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)