Saturday, July 18, 2009

Valuing Ourselves

Years ago I attended a social where the women were introducing themselves. One said, “I’m a business owner.” Others commented, “I’m a high school principal.” “I’m a day care provider.” “I’m a counselor.” “I’m a salesperson.” Then, my turn came to speak. I stuttered, “I’m a homemaker.” “Who am I?” I thought . “I used to be a graduate student and then a teacher. Now, all I have to say is ‘I’m a homemaker.’”

When I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom, my half-sister told me I was wasting my college education. I tried to defend my decision, but she continued to criticize me. She reminded me that my half-sisters were doctors, executives, and university administrators. She said, “Why are you throwing away your master’s degree to be a full-time housewife?”

When Roseanne Barr announced that moms were domestic engineers, I stood a little taller. Still, at times I felt over-worked and under-valued. During the years I was raising my four children, caring for my mom, and volunteering in my church and community, I sometimes questioned my worth as a human being. Full-time motherhood can be a thankless, tiring, and difficult job at times, but now I realize that parenthood is one of the noblest professions on earth.

Now, I salute all moms who work and mother simultaneously. Both of grandmothers were single moms, and I salute their heroism and courage. One was widowed. The second’s husband left her. I know many other women who work and parent simultaneously and who do it well. But it would have been almost impossible to care for my children--with their multiple health challenges --and my elderly mom and then add a career to the mix.

Today I’m a business owner, published writer, and speaker, but when I’m in a group of woman, I prefer to say that I’m a mother and grandmother. Although I’ve made plenty of mistakes, motherhood is my greatest challenge and blessing. However, I no longer identify myself by my accomplishments or roles, but by who and what I really am.

I love others deeply. My trials have taught me to be more compassionate and less quick to judge. I know that I am a child of God. Learning to value myself has helped me value others as well. I know that every person I meet has infinite worth.

If I’d never married or had the opportunity to be a mother, I hope I would still value myself as a woman who has a servant’s heart and who is doing her best to face some difficult challenges. I believe God is no respecter of persons, that He loves men and women, the elderly and children, the poor and the rich with a perfect, all-powerful love. I believe he loves us when we’re doing good and when we’re messing up. Each of us is a prodigal child at times, and our Father stands waiting with open arms for us to return to Him.

So today let’s stand a little taller and remember that each of us is a person of divine worth. God loves us just the way we are. He knows the struggles we face. He knows our sorrows, our joys, and our dreams. As we turn to Him, He will give us peace amid the trials and tribulations of life.

© Carol Brown

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