30 Sep 2013

The one where I’m a working mom

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 working mom and her guilt.

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:

The one where I’m a working mom.

The one where a blogger gets stage fright.

The one where I’m a homesick South African.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Can I come over for cookies? ;)

    Love this, friend. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. Nothing tastes better than grace. Not even cookies.

  2. 2

    Excellent. I love that you are called to do what you do and how you do it. And I’m thankful for the reminder, again, to give each other – and ourselves – grace, grace and more grace.

    Also. What is it about those Bubble Guppies? Annalyn loves them, too. I think they’re weird. Guess who wins that debate? ;)

  3. 3

    Yup, this working-outside-the-home Mama needed to read this early this morning. As I’m sitting here contemplating the list that includes two pharmacies, a doctors appointment, picture day, field trip permission slips (one that I don’t want to sign because it’s outside and the weather looks like Noah’s coming back), calculating benefits, this wild 31 days blogging project I committed to (grin), and the rest of my working day – and I haven’t even had breakfast yet. I’m so grateful for you, our fearless FMF leader who breathes and speaks these truths that we need to be reminded of, and so grateful for grace that I need every second that I turn around. Thank you for speaking to the throwing off of labels, and the call to recognizing that there is no right way or wrong way to do it – just the way that “we” as individuals strive to do it in the very best way we possibly can. Thank you for calling us to speak truth; for paving the way; and for helping us be brave. Got to run!

  4. 6

    Yes, yes, yes!

  5. 7

    Grace grace grace. A fellow (and younger) stay-at-home mom and I had that conversation just two weeks ago. My advice, “You are going to struggle with every decision you make. And when you are at peace, something or someone will come along to make you question it again. But there is peace in knowing God gave you your family, and your family you, for a reason. He has a story to tell through you and it has a look all its own. Give yourself some grace.” Why does it take so much heartache to remember that?

    And I love your comparison to hairstyles. Right!

  6. 9

    ..and, ps, I have a college friend who worked on some of the Bubble Guppies seasons – she is an amazing and talented illustrator. If you want some art to enjoy, here’s her personal site (http://natmadesomething.com/) and her professional one (http://www.natalielongportfolio.com/).

  7. 10

    Amazing…. I wish I could sit down and chat with you!! Yes, mothering is a calling! I’ve always believed it makes no sense to be so harsh and critical to those that may practice their calling or walk their journey, differently than we do. Thanks for this!! God bless you and your family!!

  8. 11

    We gotta let the mom-guilt go! I know that is a joy killer for sure!

  9. 12

    When I was a young mom, I felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Something just didn’t feel right to me–I constantly felt like I wasn’t doing this motherhood thing “right.” All of my other mom-friends seemed completely content to be at home with their kids, but I was just a little bit bored. Which is why I was so thankful that God called (yes, I love that word, too) me to a teaching position that allowed me a few hours each week to use my brain outside of the home. I was able to teach three afternoons a week when my kids were napping, and I could do the rest of my work at home. It seemed, for me, that this combination was just right. But what you said was the key: there is no right or wrong. Every family has to figure it out for themselves. No judgement here!

  10. 13

    I love you!

  11. 14

    Love this Lisa-Jo! “Each new mom enters motherhood as her own wildly uncharted territory.”

    It’s so true, but so scary, yes? We have to chart our own way and look at no one but Jesus. It doesn’t matter what our neighbor does, what our friends do, even what (whisper) our parents say. It’s all about our families and our Jesus. Guilt, be off. I’m doing this my own way, and I answer only to my God.

  12. 15

    i love this grace-filled piece. because i can remember every hurtful word spoken/written to me about working outside my home.

  13. 16

    I hope we too can move past there being an issue with moms and working. Because I think the Christian community will alienate millions (over 60 million) of women if it is a sticking point. My dad was a minister and my grandfather was a minister, but I’ve had a career for 15 years. A demanding, higher stress career than my amazingly fabulous full time working husband. And we have three year old triplets. I don’t normally feel guilty about working because it gives me a place to dump all my Type A-ness (instead of on unsuspecting kiddos) and help our family afford a good school. We are FAR from perfect, but we’ve set rules – no more than one night away from the dinner table a week unless I’m traveling, which is rare post kids, no nanny once we get home or on the weekends, etc. We’re engaged and present w/o a bunch of tech distractions while they are awake. I know that so many of us moms are working hard to make it not a stay at home versus working mom race, and it’s so good you’re speaking into that space.

  14. 17

    Lisa-Jo, I love you so! Thank you for being brave enough to throw it all out there. Your posts always seem to hit at the right moment for me. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  15. 18

    I’m an empty-nest mom now, but I remember those feelings so well. I’m all for giving each other grace!

    I love your words, “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..”

    So true!

  16. 19

    Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you, Lisa Jo.

    Though I would also love to hear how blogging and book writing fits in. :)

  17. 20

    Thank you! I’ve been on both sides of the working/SAHM life, and I’ve witnessed the sheer nastiness that women can throw at those on the other side of the “line.” I’m on birth forums where the hatred towards the women on the other side of the street is all too real. I’ve seen the silent to their face but knife in their back family squabbles over which daughter in law is the best mom. I’ve witnessed the “holier than thou” attitudes. Yet, when I talk with a working mom and tell her I stay at home, I don’t tell her it’s because I think it’s better for my kids or anything like that. I tell her I stay at home because I’m not as good as her. I can’t handle the pressure and juggle things the way she does. And I do feel guilty. Thank you for reminding us that whichever side of the fence we find ourselves, it’s because that’s where we’re called to be, right now, today. And if something changes, well, it’s because it’s a different day and God has a different way for us to serve Him that day.

  18. 21

    Love this! I appreciate your honesty and soak in the grace you give!

  19. 22

    This is beautiful, and just what I needed to read. I have been considering going back to school to become a High School teacher, and I have been chewing my nails when I consider that I might not be in my daughter’s classroom when she is in 5th grade… and how unfair that is to her… but we have no savings, not for college, not for a car that will need to be replaced, not for retirement and the years keep passing. I think it’s ok. All of it. My kids will be okay. My house will be okay. :) Thanks for the encouragement! (I wrote about teaching self-reliance in children today… which is important if I can’t be around all the time… ;)

  20. 23

    Thank you for this “helping of grace”. This “working Mom” needed this reminder this morning to fight off the gnawing guilt that’s always there.

  21. 24

    Oh my gosh…as as working step-momma, this makes me feel not alone. Thank you so much for sharing!

  22. 25

    It’s so good to read this…I’m a finger-pointer…mainly because I’m a mom THAT HAS TO WORK outside the home and I envy all the stay-at-home moms that don’t even work from home but for some reason run out of time to clean house, cook dinner & do laundry…all the things that I WISH I WAS AT HOME DOING instead of taking up this space in an office that really only has about 2 hours of work out of the day for me to do.

    Instead of going home at lunch to EAT, I go home to wash dishes and fold towels…only so I don’t have to do it after I get home from working 8 hours, after picking up 3 kids in 3 different places, after an hour-and-a-half football practice and after kids are fed, bathed and homework done. I have a husband but he works out of town and commutes daily and his job IS TEN TIMES harder than mine even though they both require us to be gone from the house for long hours.

    By reading this I am reminded that each “role” has its own ups and downs and each “role” will always argue that our is worse than the other.

    Thanks for writing from the heart and letting us know all the imperfections…makes me feel better about all the cheerios hiding (or not hiding) around my house!

  23. 26

    Thank you for tearing down some motherhood “standards” and guilt even before I have kids of my own.

    And enjoy baking cookies with your lovely daughter.

  24. 27

    Your writing is awesome. I could be more specific and I could easily write more, however, for now I would just like to say refreshing, honest and enjoyable. I love it. Thank you for what you’ re doing, for being a wonderful working mom and for leading women to write from their hearts, for leading people to act from their faith.

  25. 28

    That was perfect. Thank you

  26. 29

    Thanks for this post! I shared it with our MOPS group too. We have such a blend of working and stay-at-home and homeschooling and moms with adopted kids or kids with special needs or kids with milk mustaches. Our theme this year is “A Beautiful Mess: Embrace Your Story” and this blog fits right into what I’ve been preaching. ;)

  27. 30

    I couldn’t agree more, and grace upon grace upon grace AMEN.

    I came across a quote a while back from CS Lewis saying that the “homemaker has the ultimate occupation”. I thought long and hard about it, and if what he was saying is true, I believe it applies to both working moms, stay at home moms, and many other permutations… Because what we are all ultimately doing is providing and working HARD to make our homes HOME (http://wp.me/p3zH10-3q). Yes? Yes. You are a great example of how a working mom is still making home, teaching love, prioritizing love. the Cheerios are your witness.

  28. 31

    LOVE this. What a necessary reminder for all of us. Trying to live in GRACE instead of GUILT is such a struggle for me (as I suspect it is for all of us).

    After wrestling with going back to work full-time for years now, I am now back at work full-time while my son is in school. And, for me, for us, for our family, this is GOOD. When I just look at us, at our family, I can see this so clearly and thank the Lord for His provision and guidance. It’s when I start looking beyond our own little family, comparing “us” to “them” and seeing the differences, that I start questioning what we have chosen to do.

    This post is such a good reminder that walking with the Lord is a very personal thing- we seek and listen and obey what He lays before us, remembering that what He lays before ME is very different than what He lays before YOU. This is such a struggle for me! My favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis is “The Horse and His Boy.” At one point in the story, Shasta, the boy, is questioning why Aslan allowed certain things to happen to his friend, Aravis… why did this happen and not that? why did she get this and I didn’t? And Aslan says, “Child, I tell no one any story but his own.” That line always slays me. Why am I comparing my story to someone else’s? All I am doing is messing up my own story with guilt, comparison, etc.

    Anyway, THANK YOU for your honesty and vulnerability! This definitely was a blessing to my day! Thank you again!

  29. 32

    Oh, Lisa Jo. This does my heart SO good.

    I’m a working mom who is at peace with that calling. I know there are some mamas who don’t have peace, and my heart breaks most for them. What a terribly lonely place they find themselves in our culture of “supposed tos.”

    Thanks for your words today.

  30. 33

    Thank you, a million times over, for being an example for this working mom. This is why I write to encourage working moms. We need to know our calling isn’t “less than”, even though Christian culture sometimes implies that it is. We need to know that we can be the moms God wants us to be, too. I’m so grateful for your encouragement!

  31. 34

    Thank you. I needed this. Right in this moment. Sharing with a few moms who also need it!

  32. 35

    You have a way of saying what is on my mind, only in a much more eloquent way. Thank you for another timely message, filled with grace and not guilt.

  33. 36

    I’m a work-outside-the-home mom who has been CALLED to the work I’m doing now. After years of wondering how I should have done things differently to be the right kind of mom, I’m over it too. My husband and I work together to do the best job parenting our three as we can and this is our life, the life we’ve been given for which we are abundantly grateful.

  34. 37
    Vicky Smith says:

    Good for you, Lisa-Jo. I had to work full time while my kids were growing up, I still work full time. I was blessed with a Mom who lived right behind us and took care of my kids A LOT. My husband and I both worked days and as the boys got older, both played hockey. So when we reached a point where my husband could of quit work and stayed home, he had to keep working to pay for hockey. My sons are grown up now. Their dad passed away when they were in 9th and 5th grades. In spite of us working and losing their dad way too young, they are excellent men and I am very proud of both of them.

  35. 38

    We throw around the word “Grace” a lot in our blogs. Grace is a wonderful gift we have been shown. There is another word, or rather, person, that goes along with this grace that we embrace. His name is Jesus Christ. We cannot separate grace from Christ. Wherever grace is spoken of, Christ must be spoken of as well. For without Christ, there is no grace, and we are all surely condemned. I say that not to preach, but because I do not want any of us to lose sight of the true Grace-giver. Love to all as we walk by faith, not by sight.

  36. 39
    Joyce Mashburn says:

    Thank you Mary-Jo Baker for sharing this with us. What a wonderful lesson we learn from you. God bless you and God bless your wonderful family.

  37. 40

    Thank you.

  38. 41

    Lisa-Jo, I love your heart. I so appreciate your perspective and your brave honesty– they give us all permission to be honest too.

    We love Bubble Guppies. :) And baking cookies.

    Thanks so much.

  39. 42

    Love it! Thank you! I can’t wait to share this with the moms in the class I”m teaching. The Class is about parenting with grace and I can’t think of a better way to parent with grace than to understand that we mommies need grace too!

  40. 43

    Thank you once again for a great post Lisa-Jo! As a SAHM who feels God’s calling on my life is to be at home with my kids, I do still struggle with this. When things are tight financially, I feel guilty. When my husband comes home and we’ve just had “one of those days” when everything has gone wrong and the house is a mess, I feel guilty…and the list goes on. I know that no matter how we all mother differently it’s still a struggle, but the fact of the matter is we’re all moms that need encouragement and definitely grace! :) I love the saying I have seen before that says, “Today there will be coffee, probably chocolate, but definitely GRACE!” Hope your cookies came with a cup of coffee and a dose of grace! Thanks for sharing!

  41. 44

    Truth! So well said. You’ve captured that torture that women put themselves through—-no matter which role or roles we carry. It is time to accept the grace that covers all our inadequacies, our fatigue, our hopes and dreams. Satan wants us to believe the lie — IF you just try harder, you can do it all. This retired full-time working mom who was sometimes a full-time mom and a part time writer believes that ONLY grace can cover our mistakes, our guilt, and our frustration. His mercy never fails.

  42. 45

    loved this. my heart needed to read this today. I am in a new season with an injured daughter while still raising two others. Trying to balance it all, desperate to hear God direct my steps but of course the guilt still creeps in.

  43. 46

    Love this!! Such truth in this. Grace, not guilt.

  44. 47

    I struggle with this always. I am a part time everything – mom, business owner, wife, etc., nothing gets all of me, ever. I am always pulled by one of my roles and there is guilt, and disappointment, mine and theirs. I am working on grace and this helps.

  45. 48

    Love this Lisa-Jo! I felt such crippling judgment from my church in Nashville when I first went back to work – I am now part-time. This topic is so well needed – thanks for being so cool & brave!

  46. 49

    You’ve summed it up nicely. I was a sahm until I started a business. Both sides have pros and cons. Both sides come with guilt. Grace…now that’s where I want to live.

  47. 50

    Love it. Grace for all!!! And the greatest of these is LOVE!

  48. 51

    Such a good post that I am excited to share. Thank you.

  49. 52

    From one working mom to another: this is exceptionally good. Thank you!

  50. 53

    Words are failing me…

    For most of my mothering career, I’ve been employed outside the home. I’ve experienced the working mom guilt, feeling like I was missing out on every little thing my children were experiencing. There was a 2 year period that I was able to be a SAHM. I loved and was grateful for every minute, but at the same time, I felt guilty that I wasn’t contributing much financially.

    Both jobs are equally, although differently difficult. You summed it up very nicely!!

  51. 54

    Just perfect.
    Thank you. Thank you for bringing moms together.

  52. 55
    Debi Schuhow says:

    A thought. I shared this with a group of boys at a juvenile center, and it hit a nerve. But, some healing took place that day.
    It is my observation that our culture ( I can’t speak for other cultures) puts mothers on a pedestal.

    Mothers…. always available, always nurturing, always giving, always sacrificing, always gentle, always soft, always soothing, always calm, always encouraging, always believing, always teaching, always cooking/baking, always caring, always accomodating, and always loving unconditionally.
    The little boy/girl grows older and realizes that his/her mother doesn’t exhibit all or any of these attributes. How awful for that child! As he or she struggles with the incongruency, this struggle ends in the final declaration of defective ness -” My own mother doesn’t love me.” That finality of I am not wanted, I am not loved, I am nothing. So ensues the search to deaden the longing for a mother.
    Or, we in subtle ways, demean the pedastal of motherhood with statements like “She’s moody. She’s flaky. She’s so unpredictable. She’s cold as ice. She’s flighty. Put your claws in woman! If Mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. She’s on the rag again. Get it together! Go take a powder. Take a chill pill will ya?”. In no uncertain terms we let her know she has fallen off that pedestal.

    Yet! Mothers are humans with a fallen nature living in a sinful world. They are just as capable as men to be selfish and evil. And that fallen nature existed before she gave birth to a baby boy/girl and it does not disappear the day she brings that baby boy/ girl home.
    And we all act as if the woman is in possession of a secret bottle of perfume that is released within her wafting sweetness the moment her womb conceives a baby.
    We act horrified when that sweetness is not forthcoming and exclaim “How can that mother smoke while she is pregnant!” ” How could she take her daughter’s birthday money from her Grandpa and buy a bottle of wine with it?” ” How could she shake that baby in frustration?” “How could she let her toddler play unsupervised outside?” We shame her for the lack of sweetness she never had in the first place.
    Women are just as capable of selfishness and evil as men are. We forget that.

    Then when she in her naturally sinful nature makes choices consistent with that fallen human nature we offer no redemption. She walks alone in her secret shame…….feeling a failure as a mother mingled with her own yearning for a mother.
    We offer no hope for that woman who: aborted her child; whose children are taken away by protective services; abdicate the shepherding of her children to others as she careens wildly in her pursuit of ” Looking for love in all the wrong places”; because of necessity works outside the home to provide the basics for her children; struggle with the whisper ” How can I be in two places at one time?”; cannot undo the choices made nor the rash words spoken; faces or shrinks from the horrifying realization that she failed to protect her child;
    and……………..the mother who is shocked into the consequences of her choices every time she looks upon her children.
    Time to get off that deceitful Hallmark train of blaming the victim and disembark at the correct destination……………..The Pedestal of Grace (Hebrews 4:16).

  53. 56

    Thank you for your honesty, vulnerability, truth, encouragement. You are so right! Motherhood is NOT one size fits all. I think we each try so hard to live the call we’ve heard from God and mother the children we’ve been gifted with to the very best of our ability that somehow we transfer that drive and conviction to how other moms “should” be convicted to drive their own lives. I have sadly been guilty of this kind of judgement and I’m sure have lost out on divine friendships because of it. But I like cookies and I like grace, so here’s to giving them freely and lavishly to all mamas no matter how they choose to eat ’em.

  54. 57

    More Grace, yes!

  55. 58

    Hi Lisa-Jo —

    After two countries and three kids, I’m over it too. :) Feels good, right? Cheers to celebrating celebrating the current season, and intentionally putting on blinders to all else. Blessings and strength to all the mamas (and papas) out there!

  56. 59

    You must have read my mind, Lisa. Yesterday was my first day as a “stay at home mom” and I’m already facing guilt/inferiority in my new role. Ugh! But I had guilt as a working mom too.
    I’m writing about my transition at creating-mom.com. Thanks for this thoughtful piece. I hope we all can find freedom from the “mom enough” trap.

  57. 60

    Thank you for this post, it was such an encouragement. I am a mother to be for the first time and have been feeling so guilty about the fact I have to go back to work. Ideally I would love not too, but needs must, and I will try and go back part-time, but either way I am now coming to see that there is no perfect way to be a mother, and that when my baba comes a long I will carve out, with God and Husbands help, our own path….

    Thank you for encouragement

  58. 61

    Thank you for this great reminder: “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.”

    Each decision comes with consequences, and it’s our responsibility as Christ-following women to be faithful in every season on life. Ultimately, God is the one to whom we will give account. Thanks for pulling back the cover so we can see what motherhood looks like in your life, and giving us the freedom to be honest about what it looks like in ours.

  59. 62
    Jillian Maye says:

    Thank you so much for your honesty. I am discovering this is a messy topic and I have messy feelings about working moms. Thank you for offering grace.
    Before becoming a mom, I went to law school. I lived overseas. I had a passion for missions, kids, victims of horrible crimes, and many other things. Being a mother doesn’t erase those passions, and I am in the midst of figuring out how they fit now. And it’s hard to know. I stayed home with my son for the last year and in a few months I will have to go to work. I’m afraid I won’t be there for him when he needs me. I’m afraid other caregivers will take my place in his heart. I’m afraid others will think less of me for being away from him so much. I’m afraid I will be completely exhausted every day. I’m afraid I’ll enjoy working and I’ll feel guilty.
    Part of me envies women whose only desire is being a full time mom, and who have the means to do it. My family will always be my priority, but my life will contain things outside of the home as well. I don’t know how that will look for me. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I pray that I can accept each season, each task, by God’s immeasurable grace.

  60. 63

    Finally had a chance to sit down and read this (because, you know, KIDS), and I loved it. So much wisdom, grace, and freedom in your words. Thank you for opening up the door and giving us all a peek inside.

  61. 64

    Oh, Lisa Jo. You have such a way with words and getting right to the heart of a matter. And this one, oh it spoke to me on such a deep level. Those supposed tos nearly ripped me apart and sent me over the edge in the first few years of motherhood. And grace is so where it’s at. xo

  62. 65

    Love this particular series of writing posts, Lisa-Jo. Love your writing anyway, but this particular series resonates with me.

    I too, am a working (or rather was a working mom – currently seeking paid work again). I contemplate and write on the issues that create divisions between people and how erasing these divisions would help us all to feel the wholeness that is missing from our lives leading to a kinder and more humane existence for everyone.

    Grace. Love this word. Grace in all we do. This is where I need to return when it all begins to feel heavy. Your posts help me to return to this place in my heart.

    Love where you say you’re over it…the being some kind of perfect mom. I think we are less perfect in the seeking the ‘God’ of perfection. If we can embrace the less than perfect upbringing we all experienced (because no one is perfect), we can perhaps forgive our own less than perfect parenting while trying very hard to be the better parent we all wanted to be.

    Love the cuddles and cooking stuff you’re going to do with your little girl. Precious time together. While seeking a better financial future for my family in looking for work, and trying to hold back the worry, I find that doing some of the stuff we couldn’t do while I worked those crazy 80 hour weeks is what I remind myself I will long for once I find that career path again.

    So, we too are baking cookies! And although a heavy ache of worry sits right in the center of my chest as we bake, I see my son’s twinkling eyes, and smile that lights up a room and know that what this gives him is more precious than anything else at this moment in time.

  63. 66
    Tabitha Dresser says:

    What a wonderful post! Thank you!

  64. 67

    yes, girl! yes! grace for us mothers… i’m actually writing a post for monday on 5 things i refuse to feel guilty for as a mom… it’s time we embraced ourselves. :) love you lisa-jo.

  65. 68

    Love it. And thank you for putting the Bubble Guppies theme song in my bed just before turning in for the night. ;)

  66. 70

    Sing it sister!

  67. 71

    As a new mom, I really needed to read this… thanks for sharing… I must repeat to myself… there is no answer to the question!

  68. 72

    Thank you.

    I’ve done it all, too: stayed home full time, taught full time, write from home. I was shocked (and humbled) to find while I was at home I had feelings of superiority when it came to moms who worked (though I didn’t fully admit this, even to myself). When I returned to teaching, I suddenly had opposite feelings, like what did those at-home moms do all day? It was weird and revealed some ugly things about me: mainly insecurities about my own choices.

    I had to come to the point where I fully believed the best way to parent is what’s best for each family in whatever phase they happen to be in. So incredibly freeing.

    All best!

  69. 73
    Denise Owen says:

    As a stay at home Mum trying to work in a business idea with a husband working away, this has really helped me out this morning. Thanks for your words and reassurances. It is funny how we all have this preconcieved notion that all the other Mums are just cruising through perfectly, how wring we are and it is comforting to know we are all finding it just as hard.

  70. 74

    THIS IS MY LIFE right now. HAs been a struggle because have been def feeling that mom guilt one way or the other. Thank you for being real and giving us permission to accept where we are and free ourselves of the ugly mommy guilt

  71. 75
    Christina says:

    You do not define grace. You throw it around an awful lot.

    I do not believe you use it correctly. Grace means someone else pays for your sins of both omission & comission; it does not mean that we get to feel good about ourselves no matter what.

    Look to Scripture, not your feelings.

    Take this guilt you try to push away with some nebulous “grace” and trace it to its root, and look to Jesus.


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