Struggling stay-home mums, take heart: There is a purpose for this season
Bryna Sim Singh // May 10, 2019, 1:03 pm
All photos courtesy of Bryna Sim Singh
Down on all fours, I surveyed the post-dinner damage wearily.
What. a. mess.
The sight of puree spatters and mangled alphabet macaroni bits left on the floor by my infant son triggered something in me: This was my life now, an awful mess!
Months of bottled-up resentment spilled over and I began to cry.
For all of my ambitions and talents as a 32-year-old, why was I reduced to being a stay-at-home mum (SAHM), spending my days in this self-abased way, clearing food scraps, changing dirty diapers and wiping snotty noses?
Surely, this was not part of God’s purpose for my life.
Then, the Lord’s voice broke through: “My child, you are doing exactly what I want you to.”
For your most important disciples sit at your dining table.
When my husband received a job posting to Toronto last year, I was excited but apprehensive. Excited that our family would experience living abroad but apprehensive because of what that would mean for me.
I did not want to be a SAHM, a role I believed wasn’t my thing.
Extroverted in personality and a journalist by profession, I relish having a different rhythm every day and interacting with people from various walks of life.
Work was also a slice in my life I called my own – it did not have to be shared with my husband or children. But as a SAHM, I would have virtually no “me time” and my social radius would be greatly narrowed.
I recoiled at the thought of being largely house-bound and having to manage my two children 24/7, tied down by mind-numbing to-dos. The prospect of losing financial independence and having to rely on my husband’s pay cheque filled me with dread too.
Yet, I sensed God was urging me to embrace this role. We were going to be in a foreign land without any support, and there were many transitions to manage. I had to be a strong anchor and helper for my family. And so, I did what I knew was wise in God’s sight.
I became a SAHM.
Even though I chose to obey God, it wasn’t long before unhappiness came knocking.
Initially, I battled against it by motivating myself to be joyful, thankful and contented. But the self-help didn’t help. Frustration increasingly gnawed at me.
Just as I had feared, the daily routines, sacrifices and absence of support or friendship – apart from my spouse – made me feel emotionally spent, suffocated and isolated.
Some days, I had a deeply unspiritual attitude and cursed my life.
Being on no-pay leave also made me feel professionally disempowered. Viewing social media updates of my friends’ new job positions, promotions or achievements further dampened my spirits.
I was forced to confront questions about my identity.
Who am I?
What am I achieving? What is my purpose here?
Is being a SAHM my sole calling for this season of my life?
While I asked God for discernment to understand His will, I feared that He had already answered me. I rejected the possibility that He wanted me to just be a SAHM.
Subconsciously, and then consciously, I stopped wrestling with God and made room for bitterness to reside in my heart.
The turning point came the day I broke down at the dining table.
I recognised that I had begun to believe the devil’s lies that my struggles were insignificant to God. I had also started doubting His promise that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
It was time to surrender my heart. It was time to put to death this winter of discontent, so that the spring of satisfaction could follow.
I asked God: What do you want to teach me?
Here are some things He has been impressing upon my heart.
Walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8) and work with my hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
Before coming to Toronto, I pooh-poohed cooking. Why did I need to enter the kitchen, with zi char so easily available in Singapore?
But God rebuked me for trivialising this life skill. In learning to cook, I was concerning myself with something that Jesus was concerned with. The Bible records many instances where Jesus fed people. Providing physical – and not just spiritual – nourishment was important to Him.
I’m proud to say that I’ve learnt to cook many things here, from scrambled eggs to chicken rice. These home-cooked meals have replaced dining out and meeting friends over lunch, but there is satisfaction in the simple.
God’s encouragement to me is seeing my family enjoy the work of my hands.
Build a family that glorifies Him.
Remembering that my most important disciples sit at my dining table awoke me to this realisation: I am at the frontline of my children’s Christian education.
All this time I have with my children is not a bondage but a blessing. God is giving me precious opportunities to be intentional in modelling Christ, and to read the Bible, pray and have spiritual conversations with them.
My God-given talents have a clear purpose this season – establishing a foundation of eternal value for my children.
God doesn’t just want me to be a SAHM, but a godly SAHM.
In taking me away from Singapore where everything was familiar and comfortable, He is seeking to refashion my identity.
If I allow Him, He will build up a new and better me, a me that’s more like Him.
Learn what it means to let Him work.
There are days where the world presses in and the imperfect me wants to dictate my own destiny. But these words and phrases have come up repeatedly: Abide, trust, have faith. Hold on. You just haven’t seen it yet.
I’m merely chapters into our faith journey here; God is still writing the storyline. Who knows the plans He has in store by the end of this book?
I must press on in glorifying and enjoying Him, even as I ask, seek, knock and wait expectantly for Him to reveal all things.
I must not rush the author and perfecter of our faith.
This Mother’s Day, I hope that my story will encourage mums who might be struggling with their identity. May you be able to look back upon this season and say: It was difficult, but I lived it in obedience to the Lord.
Bryna is married to Harpreet and their hands are full with two cheeky children: Danellna-preet, 3, and Hesekkya-preet, 10 months. Sometimes, she misses her life BC (before children). Bryna believes in wrestling with God and regards empathy as a virtue.
THINK + TALK
- Are you struggling in this season of your life?
- What do you think God is trying to teach you?
- Are you walking in obedience?