Seeing as how Rory is only temporarily in daddy daycare and we have another one on the way, I've been giving a lot of thought to being a mom who works away from home. I often ask myself questions like these: Should I really be working? What is best for Rory? What is best for us as a family? Can I handle getting kicked out of another church nursery because my daycared baby has another runny nose? Is staying at home the only way to raise a healthy and well-adjusted child? Will Rory need years and years of counseling and be totally neglected if I don't stay at home with her? Am I losing any kind of deep bond with her through not being with her 24/7? Does God say that all moms should stay at home with their kids? Am I a terrible parent by making the choice to work?
It's probably just pressure I put on myself, but I sure do feel like there's a lot of pressure on women who follow Christ to stay home with their kids. Friends I deeply respect strongly encourage it, and honestly, I don't have any friends who are working by choice.
And yet, I'm just going to say it: I believe that I am where I'm supposed to be. I believe that I would actually be acting out of disobedience at this point in my life if I were to quit my job and be a stay-at-home mom. So, if anyone who reads this is a working mom struggling with feelings of guilt, pressure, or inadequacy for working, I have a few thoughts to share.
- It's okay to work by choice. You're probably tired of hearing this, but I love my job. I fully and completely believe in what I do. I have such a great honor of getting to help a demographic of people that is often ignored, neglected, and avoided. And I love the people I work with. I believe I'm there for a reason. Now, I know this statement is going to make some people mad, and I don't mean for it to, but it needs to be said. I believe (at this point in my life), if 60 years from now I were to look back on my life and I was just a stay-at-home mom, I wouldn't have fulfilled God's purpose or destiny for me. I am called to be a wife and a mother, but that is not my only calling. That may change, and I'm open to that changing. It could change tomorrow, or it may be required when #2 comes depending on his/her personal needs. At this point I, with a full love for my husband, daughter, and the Lord most of all, have made the choice to work.
- Daycare is NOT the end of the world. After I had Rory, I wasn't sure if I would even want to go back to work or not. Things would have been tight had I elected to stay home, but we would have made it work without a big problem. But, I knew after week 3 or 4 staying home with Rory that I was going to go back to work. At that time, I didn't qualify for FMLA with my company, so I went back to work when Rory was 7 weeks. Dropping her off at daycare wasn't the hard part. Picking her up was what made me cry the first few days. It was so hard to deal with the fact that her life went on when I wasn't there: diapers were changed, bottles were given, milestones were reached. It was painful. On the other hand, Rory learned how to operate outside of the home and she had 4 great women and lots of sweet kids loving on her every day. Whenever I would drop her off at daycare, she would grin and squeal because she was with her friends and with people who love her. Sure, it's not as ideal as being one-on-one with mom or dad, but it's not going to produce a sociopath. I promise.
- Your child will still know you love him/her. If I am supposed to be at my job and I believe that God has called me there, I must also believe in Him to meet my child's needs. God will care for Rory and allow her to operate in the fullness of His love and her parents' love even if she is not with one of us 24/7. Kids are intuitive. If their mother is with them 24/7 but isn't giving them quality time and life, they know it. If their mom has just a few hours with them daily, and is loving them fully, they know it. That's how they work. Rory knows I love her.
- There are other women just like you out there. I'm not exactly sure who they are, but I'm one of them at least!
- Set priorities and boundaries in your personal life. This is the biggest thing I've been learning recently. There are two things I know that I'm specifically called to: my family and my job. When family is a full time job, and my job is 40 hours a week, that means something's got to give. It means I have to view my job as the ministry I'm investing in. So, my non-working hours are going to look different these days. I will make family a priority. We're still open to being with people, but Rory will join us. This isn't a season where I can have much alone time with friends. We love to be with people, and they're welcome to join us during non-working hours at our house as a family doing family things. This ensures that Rory receives quality attention and time from me daily.
- Celebrate the diversity and beauty of different motherhood callings. The calling and direction and passion to be a stay-at-home mom is a beautiful thing and I totally celebrate it! It's a ton of work and in no way less of an important role than other roles. I don't want anyone to feel like I'm devaluing the position of a mom staying home with her kids through my choice to work.
- Nothing is written in stone. Today, I do what I'm supposed to do today. Tomorrow, I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do tomorrow. Just because I'm supposed to work today doesn't mean I'm supposed to work for the rest of my life. I completely reserve the right to change my lifestyle as I'm led without regret or shame. Everyone should have that freedom.