If you live in a home with small children, you've probably had "the talk". You know the one, the one where you and your husband lean against the kitchen counters, arms crossed, each thinking as the dishwasher hums and swishes away in the background. From your vantage point you take in the landscape which typically includes, a sticky but unidentifiable substance dripping from the table, a basket with laundry - clean, dirty, folded, unfolded, scattered toys, overturned shoes, various colors of playdoh and my favorite, those tiny landmines also known as dry cheerios hiding on the floor, just waiting for an unsuspecting someone to crush them into a powder.
"We could use the money."
"Daycare costs a fortune."
"I would love to have a conversation during the day that doesn't center around body functions."
"Who do we really want to raise OUR kids?"
"The job can't just be any job, it would have to be worth it."
"Can someone else love our kids like we do?"
So many words and emotions are wrapped up in this one thing, but five months ago, this is where I found myself. Going back to work. Of course, for those of you, my dear friends, who are stay-at-home Moms, you know as well as I do, that it isn't really going back to working, but more like transferring from one job to another. The truth is, the transfer happens with a significant deficit.
Kids still need love, attention and care
The laundry still needs to be done
Groceries need to be bought
Kids are tired because of the rigorous schedule
Mom feels like she took on a second job.
There are times where I see my world spinning crazy around me, chores piling up, demands from all sides, and I start to believe that I will never catch up with all of this...when I am interrupted by that always clear, somewhat condescending voice that says - You CHOSE this. At times this little voice is linked to a significant stab of something like guilt, because did I choose working over my kids? And then comes just a bit of agony - because there is a part of me that is heartbroken every day I see my kids pull away from the house with their Daddy on their way to share their precious day with someone else. I don't think that ever goes away.
But, I have started to learn that God hard-wired me in a really different way. I don't know if it's socially appropriate to admit it or not, but this Mama also loves going to work. I love interacting with teachers, and university students, and profs - I feel like this is the job I always wanted, I just never knew it. I don't feel like I am battling against some strong instinct that tells me I did the wrong thing, instead I think that I am coming to terms with some things about myself - beyond the excuse that, I HAD to go to work. Instead, God has created in me a love and passion for my children, a desire to build solid relationships with them as they grow in their faith and lives, but he has also given me a strong desire to work with students and my colleagues, toward a future.
I guess that is where balance comes in. The time I get with my children has to be richer and purposeful. Around the Education department, we talk about intentionality all the time, and that has changed the way I think about my kids. Being intentional in my interactions with them, no matter how exhausted I am, is what matters. I think that no matter if God made you to be a stay-at-home super Mom, or if he put the desire in you be the worker super Mom, it is the intentional interactions with our children that matter. Guilt, then, doesn't fit into the equation and we women, who love with our whole being, can walk in God's purposes for us, our families, our children.
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