A friend called me with a question after she read my post about wanting to be a better mom. The one that said "Does any mom thinks she is doing a good job?" and concluded with the formula me (average mom) + God (perfect, loving Father) = best mom ever.
Her question was (and I have her permission to share the conversation...it was her idea, in fact):
If that's true. If me + God = best mom ever, does it matter that I stay home? I have a good friend who didn't choose home, but stayed in the work force and has two kids. She seems really happy and her kids appear to be doing well. Do you think I should go back to working outside the home?
side note: feels dangerous to write a post in the battle ground of "stay-at-home" vs. "work outside the home" mom. For clarity purposes this discussion will not include the issue of financial need, but focus on a mom's heart.
Personally, I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Dreamed about it. Carefully nurtured my six different Cabbage Patch Kids. And yet I also wanted to go to medical school and be a pediatrician.
In college I worked hard for good grades, took the MCAT, even applied to medical school. But once I had an engagement ring on my finger and plans to move to Chicago, my doctor dreams were replaced with a new pursuit...video production (even sent resumes to Veggie Tales and Harpo...and, no, didn't get either job).
Then I worked as an elementary school teacher's aide. During that time I discovered speech-language pathology. When we moved to San Francisco, I volunteered at a hospital helping kids with auditory processing disorders. Then back to Chicago to get a Master's Degree. Then moved to Dallas to work with cochlear implants.
I switched things up a lot.
Once I had my first baby and stayed home for hours a day. I was bored.
Don't get me wrong. Being a mom was the. hardest. job I'd ever had, but it just wasn't meeting a couple deep needs. One need I have is for outside approval and the other is a need to accomplish tasks.
Staying home there were no A+'s or teacher accolades or peer congratulations. I never finished a task without it needing to be done again several times that day.
In my situation, as a stay-at-home mom, I needed an "AND". An extra something. A place to get that approval and accomplishment.
So I became a stay-at-home mom AND...a college professor, teaching one class a week.
a stay-at-home mom AND a part-time speech-language pathologist.
a stay-at-home mom AND MOPS registration coordinator
a stay-at-home mom AND a blog writer
The 'AND' usually are done during afternoon nap time or while kids are in school (1 or 2 days a week) or late at night/early morning. I sacrificed other things...a favorite T.V. show or lounging on the couch to find a way to do the extra things.
For my friend mentioned above who asked, "Does it matter if I stay home? Couldn't I work outside the home and still be a great mom?" Ultimately this question needs to be answered by her and God. Because each woman's story is different.
For me, being maternally driven, I wanted to stay home with kids (not because I think it's the "right" choice, but because it's what I wanted). I would regret missing out on these days of cracking open pecans or reading lots of books or having tea time.
there are times these boys totally meet the needs of approval...this was the first time Knox joined in the big boys' tea time.
BUT I have those needs (approval & accomplishment) that my children cannot fulfill on a daily basis.
So that's where my "AND" place comes in. Finding something to put focus on and gain immediate satisfaction from so I can be a satisfied mom. Then from that place of fulfillment I can then pour more love into the lives of my children.
Of course there is a delicate balance. Only you can know your motives. Asking yourself, "Am I escaping motherhood with my 'AND' ? Or is it adding to my experience as a mom?"
Sometimes we think it's all or nothing...full time job on Wall Street OR stay-at-home mom.
The most important thing is to seek God first. He will show you and I if the "AND" is adding or detracting from the life He desires us to live.
When I am reading the Bible (daily) and praying...the Holy Spirit gives me a nudge when I am off-track or right in His will.
Lastly, I think it's good for the boys to see me using the gifts & talents God's given me for His glory. I remember my mom going to speak at women's retreats or leading discipleship groups at our kitchen table or taking college courses. She often had an "AND". I knew she was seeking God's plan for her first.
I had written this post and then read this awesome post by Shauna Niequist about her mother. If this topic strikes a cord with you then I'd suggest you go read Shauna's words.
I would LOVE to hear your "AND"s...what do you do in addition to the massive job of nurturing and loving little souls?
And on Monday I'll be sharing an interview I did with Amanda White (OhAmanda) discussing her "AND"...