Yup, we’re going there.
There where all the big feelings are. About moms and working.
Last week I promised a week of “back story” posts. Because:
I don’t want to be scared to tell you how motherhood looks for me because I never want you to be scared of being able to share how it looks for you.
I’m going to share some of the stories that make me both me and a mother. Me and a working mother. Me and a mother who grew up in South Africa. Me and a mother who has three adopted siblings. Me and a mother who lost her mother. Me and a mother who’s writing a book.
Because if we’re going to do this thing – if we’re going to remind each other that we are both more and less complicated than “just” a mom, we’re going to need to trust each other, yes?
So, today I’m here to say I’m a full time working mom.
Because I want to invite you into the nooks and Cheerios-crushed-crannies of my life. So that you know what all the mothering I write about here looks like from my end.
And there are a hundred qualifications and caveats I could make to the statement that I’m a working mom so that no one feels left out or offended or angry or preachy or finger-waggy but honestly I don’t have the energy. But mostly because I am certain we can just go ahead and give each other grace, yes?
Because this I am sure of – there’s no better or best or one-size-fits-all definition of motherhood.
I mean how would that even work? There’s not even a perfect hairstyle for all of us and believe me if there was I would be all over that because it would make my hair and by extension my life so much easier.
And the truth is, if you’re a mom, you work. Hard. It’s right there in the job description: “on call 24/7.”
And when I went back to work in an office when my first born was around 9 months old, it was a little like being on vacation at first. I mean, the unadulterated bliss of going to the bathroom completely and utterly alone. Words fail me.
But because we have bills to pay that require two salaries, I’ve always worked under another job title in addition to “Mother.” Sometimes I’ve loved it and sometimes it’s been terribly hard.
I think the same can be heard from moms who’ve stayed home with their kids. Sometimes they love it and sometimes it’s terribly hard.
But what I do know is that both are much, much harder when you throw in a side of guilt and finger pointing and a few lists of how a mom is “supposed” to look.
The “supposed-tos” about killed me those first years of mothering:
Moms are “supposed to” make their own baby food.
Moms are “supposed to” stay home all the time with their kids.
Moms are “supposed to” keep showing up without a blip or a kink in their schedule to all previously scheduled activities.
Moms are “supposed to” look put together even when all their inside parts and hearts and feelings have been ripped apart.
Three kids and three countries later I’m just over it.
I’m over the boxes and labels and laminated signs that are supposed to define motherhood.
Each new mom enters motherhood as her own wildly uncharted territory.
Each family has to find it’s own way through, which includes where the money is going to come from to cover the grocery list and how to love on the littles in ways that are meaningful to them and not to the hundreds of posts pinned on Pinterest.
In this season I work full time from home.
In past seasons I’ve worked full time from an office.
In between there have been periods when I’ve worked as a consultant who’s back and forth between home and kids and classrooms and deadlines.
And there were small pockets when I’ve been the traditional stay-at-home mama wrangling the ritual of tiny humans with very big needs.
The weird, crazy truth is that there has always been a side of guilt that came with all those choices. I have still to stumble onto “motherhood nirvana” where you’ve finally solved the rocket science equation of how to live a fully balanced and meaningful life while being the mother of children.
And I’ve come to the conclusion it just doesn’t exist. It’s sort of a nonsense question – like what shape is yellow. In that you can’t answer something that doesn’t actually have an answer.
I believe the world we live in is broken and that this side of heaven we’re not going to have solved for all the hard and wounding decisions that being human requires. We’re just going to do our very best in each new season to honor the God that gave us these children and the family that needs our best intentions and decisions to love and live with them fully.
And because we’ve all got unique stories and DNA and hair cuts and smiles I’m figuring that mothering is going to look different for you and you and you and then it will chop and change again just when you were getting used to how it felt.
Life is like that, isn’t it?
And in the meantime I know I couldn’t function without our amazing nanny who comes to be with Zoe every day from 9-1 while I’m working and before she naps from 1-3 and the boys are in school.
This is my right now.
And it’s not fancy. It’s paint at the dining room table and trips to the farm and some laundry caught up on and a way to survive the season that I’m called to right now. Yes, I said called.
And for the moms who wonder how everyone else is getting it all done the honest answer is that we aren’t and that most days we need help.
We have no family near by and most of the moms I know work full time too. Maybe most of the moms you know are home. Either way, I’m a firm and committed believer in grace.
Grace for the stay at home mom and her guilt.
Grace, friends. Because it’s the only chance we have to escape the otherwise inevitable feeding frenzy in which we cannibalize each other and end up feeling emptier than when we started.
Grace to follow the ways God has called us to provide for our sons and daughters.
Grace to love the moms who live differently than we do.
Grace to stop by with chocolate cake and friendship.
Because nothing tastes better than grace.
And in the interests of full disclosure I am going to publish this now even though I could probably write more and explore the nuances of mothering and working further. And I could also unpack how blogging and book publishing fits into the “stay at home” equation but I’ve run out of time because my daughter wants to watch Bubble Guppies on my computer and it’s her turn because it’s my day off after four days of work travel and I have big plans to just be with her and maybe bake cookies after I hit publish. Here’s to grace and chocolate, friends!
Here’s the whole series: