That’s what a program director who I use to work with always told me when we discussed the news of the day in the world of talk radio. The statement, fraught with finality, served as a strong reminder that you can’t undo what you did so no use mulling over things you can’t change.
If you work outside the home, you’re a working mom. If you don’t work in or outside the home, you haven been affectionately labeled, stay-at-home mom. How do these roles influence what we do as mothers? If you work, are you scrambling at 6:00 p.m. to get dinner on the table, a load of laundry into the machine and hurrying through homework with your child so you can have meaningful time together before they have to go to sleep? Do you feel fulfilled spending your days doing something that you are passionate about while using your gifts and talents in ways that bring meaning to your life and/or the lives of others? If you are at home with your children, are you (still) scrambling at 6:00 p.m. to get dinner on the table, a load of clothes folded and put away while hurrying through homework with your child so you can have that meaningful time together before they have to go to sleep? Do you feel fulfilled spending your days caring for someone whom you are passionate about while using your gifts and talents to bring meaning to your role and to the life of another?
There are times when I think I would have been a better mother had I gone back to work after having my first child. And having had both in those early years would have been having the best of both worlds. Maybe had I returned to work, I wouldn’t have felt that some of my identity had slipped away. Afterall, my job wasn’t just a job, it was a career that I had built and loved, and it represented something that was also meaningful to me. If I could unring the bell, would I choose different? Maybe so.
While this is not a post debating the pros and cons of working moms vs. stay-at-home moms, it is about the contributions we make in our children’s lives, job or no job, and how our identity is alive and reflected in how we are raising them.
We are each on different paths that may start out in one direction and morph into another. I have a friend, the mother of teens, who worked full time when her kids were young then quit her job when they entered into junior high school. I have another friend, who after being at home for several years after having her first child, is returning to school to pursue a master’s degree in an entirely different field from the one she had been working in before having children. For some, the days continue to be the same in a career they had before having children, and for others, their career might be on hold, pursued part-time or seem lost at sea. We each take different routes on our motherhood maps, but we do set out for the same purpose: to raise our children with the best that we have to offer.
Teaching, supporting, providing and loving play a huge part of our identity because that’s what we are giving out–and the values, encouragement, provisions and love we give, are in direct relation to who we are. Regardless of whether we are working moms or stay-at-home moms, what we’re giving to our children is a part of who we are, and that giving, is a bell we can rejoice in ringing for as long as we are given the opportunity.
“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14)
“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“Show me your ways O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5)
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” (Psalm 20:4)
Linda, your post reflects on me greatly. I have always believed in the Lord, but three years ago had a break through of sorts with Him, because the moms you describe above were NOT me. Yes, I am a stay at home mom, but one who planned to start her career of teaching as soon as the child(ren) were in school full time—I had it all planned out, since my heart has desired to be a teacher since I was 4yrs old!! But, God had other plans for me! First, I was only to have ONE child, not the 2 or 3 I saw myself having. Second, I could never get a career going–even tho I have TWO degrees, one in teaching and one in English—it seemed like I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time, the opportunities to get the careers going were never on my side. Then, a rare thing called premature ovarian failure caused me to only be able to have one child. And then, that one precious child, he could not chew, he could not talk, he would not look at me, he didn’t call Mommy or Daddy or even know when we were in the room….he was diagnosed with high functioning autism at age 4 and my life was filled with not “mommy & me’s”, but many therapists coming and going within my house from when he was 12mos old till well, they are still coming sometimes even now! I cried and lamented and was jealous of everyone around me’s plans to have more children and stay home and enjoy, or go back to work and enjoy, while I did not have a career nor peace in my heart about my situation. I almost turned away from God–there is more to my story than just this piece of it–so hard was it to accept that others would have their dreams, and I would not. BUT God worked as he always does, and had us move to SoCAL from NY, where I met a special person on my block who invited me to her bible study–and shortly after that, God reached me in a deeper way than I had ever been reached before. He showed me—that HE is the author of my life and path, I have very little say over it, but to trust in Him and let Him lead me. He also revealed to me, that if I HAD gotten the careers I wanted, then “workaholic me” wouldn’t have been able to QUIT and focus entirely on the special little being he sent me—my son. Even tho I endured pain and hardship, I throw myself into everything I do, and my child’s issues were no different. He went from very low functioning—not talking, understanding what was being said to him, not interacting with others at all–to a boy who if you saw him today, you might not even know he has autism, because God chose to keep me home with him, working hard to help him become the great 10 yr old boy he just turned last week. People here do not know what he came from, they just see a boy running and playing with his friends, but a child psychologist we went to recently read all the old evaluations and turned to me in wonder, saying, it’s not just that you did something “right,” it’s nothing short of a miracle that he is the boy I see sitting here today.
THAT is the power of GOD leading our ways, guiding our lives and yes, when we listen and follow, and surrender to His will for us, even when all seems lost, He always has a greater plan.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
Everyday, I now wake up and ask the Lord, what do YOU want me to do today? For I have learned…I do much better following His path than planning my own, for He knows what is best for me and for this world, and how each of us can help everyone around us.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Isaiah 3:5-6
Linda, that quote you put at the end of your blog has been the CORNERSTONE for me lately. I hope others can find God in whatever path they are on and understand just how important we are to Him, wherever we sit in our paths in life. For He has our lives in His hands and we can rest knowing we are always where He wants us to be!
Ladies, thank you both for sharing your stories! As a mother of three young boys who happens to manage her business from home, I am always looking for ways to be more balanced and productive. I admit I am arrested by the truth that I must always remember to trust God with orchestrating my day and how I spend my time. I look forward to enjoying my journey more and being more thankful for this season and its tasks.