Monday, May 21, 2012

Working motherhood

So what's new with me?

Well... I quit my job. Sorta. I declined my contract for next year officially today. I am now a stay at home mom! On a teacher's salary...a leap of faith for us but one we know is right. I finally worked up the courage to tell all of my students so it's finally official in my heart, too. I could write a post on how heavy my heart is to leave the opportunity to hang out with 150 kids on a daily basis (because it's heavy) or how much I hate to give up my fantastic job. But the post on my students would be a MILLION times longer. They are the only good thing about teaching. And if one more person who is not a teacher has a conversation with me about how jealous they are of my summer, I may punch them in the face. Yes it's awesome, but until you teach, you will never realize how you can't live without it and continue to come back every year.

But none of that is what I want to post about. I want to talk about being a working mom. And not being a working mom. In the past year, I have learned so much about mothering and about working moms. The biggest thing I have discovered is

 You feel guilty if you do AND guilty if you don't.

Society has us trained to look over our shoulders at every turn as we parent.  Is my kid eating like hers? No. Is my kid crawling like hers? No. Look how much better our child behaves than theirs. Riiight. Should I breastfeed? Should I use a pacifier? Should I put him in a crib? Should I? What if? Ugh.  Nothing you ever do is right to everyone.  And every mother can admit they have fallen victim to the judgment bug as you watch other mothers.  We're part of the problem.

And the absolute BIGGEST guilt trip you can be placed on is whether or not to work.  And no matter what your decision, you feel guilty.  When you choose to work, it's the constant desire to be with your child mixed with the looks from mom's who stay at home and teach their kid to read at age 2 and long division at 3.  And their kid always: sleeps through the night, eats their veggies, listens the first time, shares, and never writes on the walls in crayons.  When you choose to stay at home, you watch the other mothers who work and think "Am I pulling my weight with our family finances?  Does anyone even notice my contribution?  What good is my degree when I use it to wipe dirty faces and pick up legos? How far behind will I be when I chose to go back to work?" 

But do you know the OTHER biggest thing I learned this year?

It's okay.

The Lord calls us to different paths.  And. that. is. okay.

Some of us are called to serve our families within our home on a daily basis.  Some of us are called to work a bit outside the home.  Some of us are called to wake up every morning and leave our home to fulfill another calling.  And you know what?  It's okay for any of those mothers to LOVE their calling
 but sometimes long for what they are missing.  Feeding their child lunch or having lunch meetings.  Sweatpants or pantsuits.  I have learned that God can call you to what you are supposed to do and you should trust that calling.

I know, without a minute hesitation, that I was called to work this year.  And I hated it and loved it every day.  We prayed over that decision for months and months and the Lord revealed to us what I was supposed to do in many ways.  And now, He has revealed a new path for me to take.

Whatever your decision, trust the Lord has you in that for a reason and take full pleasure in that role.  Only a mother knows that your heart can be torn even as you do take full pleasure in your role, whichever it may be. 

And to those of us who are watching that mother and her family make that difficult choice, save your judgment and support.  Encourage her decision to work by telling her she can do it, it's not that difficult, and I will be here to help you whenever you need.  Encourage her decision to stay home by telling her congratulations and the Lord will provide.

Now back to grading papers.  Only 6 more days.  Then I am d.o.n.e.  But in 6 days I won't be around kid like these anymore.  Who am I kidding?  I'm sure I'll be back to write the post about how much I'll miss them.  I even had a student make a video for me, interviewing tons of my old and current students about how much they'll miss me.  I am going to miss the heck out of them.