“Working” Mom

I have a confession to make:  I am a working mom….. Wait a minute!  If you are a mom then the word “working” automatically goes directly in front of it because without a doubt, all moms spend 99.9% of their day working – for their kids, for their husbands, for their families, for their school, for their church, for their community.  There is no end to the work that moms do!  And in that 0.1% that they aren’t working, they are probably thinking about what to do next.

So let me try that again.  I am a “work-outside-the-home” mom.  Not a perfect term either because much of a mom’s every day is spent outside the home working – shuttling to and from school and activities, running errands, volunteering at school….the list goes on.

So maybe I should call it “Employed mom” because that implies that I get paid in money rather than hugs and kisses.

This has been a tough confession for me to make – in small part, because I didn’t want opinions of me to change, but mostly because I have had trouble admitting it to myself.  I have been part time since January of 2014 and became full time in the fall of 2014.  And before that, for about 10 years, I was able to stay home with my kids.

And in the past year or so that I have been working, a number of my misconceptions and preconceived ideas have crumbled into dust.  Having now been on both sides of this “working” wall, I can see that somehow, we moms have managed to create a dividing line, no less omnious than a giant brick wall, between us.

When we introduce ourselves as “employed” or “stay-at-home”, we automatically have ideas of what the other’s day must entail.  But now I realize that this wall is self-made and continually perpetuated by us!  By the moms who need each other most!  So, I am definitely no expert but let me share with you some things that I have realized.

Stay-it-home moms have it rough.  Their day begins before sunrise, tending to their kids, planning out the stay-at-home-momday.  They may throw in a load of laundry before the children are even out of bed.  Then after breakfast and shuttling kids off to school, the mom faces a mountain of work to do.  Piles of laundry, messes that seem to create themselves, diapers to change, sticky floors to wipe up (again), errands to run, and that’s just before lunch!  For those moms with infants and toddlers, they are trapped in their house by nap schedules and random tantrums that would be too mortifying at the store.  For preschoolers, we pressure ourselves to enrich our child’s life by taking them to the park, to the library, to playdates.  Sometimes, these can be combined with Bible studies or friend time, where the moms catch up on each other, try to talk about God in their lives, and wrangle their energetic children to keep them from mortal injury on the jungle gym.  For those with school age children, moms experience a new kind of obligation – to help out at school – bake sales, dye cutting hearts and stars, copying papers, volunteering at recess.  She pours herself into the work she has been called to do.  Expectations that we place on ourselves are the most difficult to live up to.  These room moms and party organizers run themselves ragged with what they think they should be doing.  And afternoons are filled with homework, practices, activities and older kid expectations.  By the time these stay-at-home moms fall into bed at night (usually past their bedtimes), they are exhausted, worn out, and not ready to face the morning.

Employed moms may have misconceptions about stay-at-home moms.  Now whether these misconceptions are real or imagined by the “at-home” moms, they are no less damaging.  I remember as a stay-at-home mom, I felt like working moms thought my day was full of free time.  I felt like they thought I was sitting on the couch eating bon-bons and watching romantic comedies all day.  And that when my husband got home in the evening, the dinner was on the table in our nice neat house, homework was done, the children were polite and well-groomed, and a pie was just coming out of the oven.  Where the reality was that dinner was probably getting overdone, the house was a mess, kids were either throwing fits about homework or were outside covered in chalk dust and dirt.  And the only dessert was the week-old cupcake from a school birthday party.

As a stay-at-home mom, I could feel the judgment, whether it was there or not!  Possibly and likely, I invented it in my own head, but it was very damaging to my self-esteem as a woman and a mother.

Now let me tell you about employed moms.

Employed moms have it rough.  Their day begins before sunrise, tending to their kids, planning out the day.  They may throw in a load of laundry before Image result for working momthe children are even out of bed.  Then after breakfast and shuttling kids off to school, the mom faces a mountain of work to do.  The housework still sits at home but employment demands her attention, however fulfilling it may be.  A different type of kid, much older yet no less demanding people require her time and efforts.  This time she is not rewarded with hugs, kisses and snuggles, but an occasional thank you instead.  She pours herself into the work she has been called to do.  Trying to juggle employment and priorities for her family, she tends to school emails and silently laments that she is not up at school dye cutting and volunteering.  She forgoes field trips and class parties for stacks of paperwork and endless lines of email.  For moms of infants and toddlers, she wonders if they are eating okay and if someone is holding them when they cry.  For preschoolers, she hopes that her child is listening to stories rather than watching television.  For elementary school  and older kids, she tries to figure out how to slip in an errand to the craft store to pick up supplies for that soon due project.  Expectations that we place on ourselves are the most difficult to live up to.  These employed moms are always the first to volunteer to bring supplies for a class party because they cannot be there themselves.  They worry so much about what they think they should be doing.  Afternoons and evenings are filled with homework, practices, activities and older kid expectations.  By the time these employed moms fall into bed at night (usually past their bedtimes), they are exhausted, worn out, and not ready to face the morning.

Stay-at-home moms may have misconceptions about employed moms.  Once again, whether these misconceptions are real or imagined by the “employed” moms, they are no less damaging.  As a working mom, I now feel like stay-at-home moms may think that I value my children less than they value theirs.  I think that stay-at-home moms may think that my day is full of happy child-free, grown up time, while in fact I am sad that my day is full of child-free, grown-up time.  I worry that others think I am selfish, going to work and not tending to my family’s needs.   When in actuality, I spend most of my day thinking of them and how to still do everything that I expect myself to do.

As an employed mom, I perceive judgement when it is more than likely invented in my own head.

The bottom line is that whether we are employed or staying at home, we moms love our kids!  We adore them!  They are who God has called us to serve!  God placed us in these beautiful families to be the glue!  Through our loving service, we pour ourselves into our vocation as a wife and mother, filling up all the cracks between those we love.  And we are all trying to do the very best that we can.  Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes we succeed.  But most times we need to turn the worry and the misconceptions over to God and just love those in front of us!

And the next time we meet another mom, we need not ask if she is “working” because we all are doing God’s work in our lives!

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