I’m a working mother. In my opinion, the words “mother” and “worker” are synonyms.
I don’t claim to understand the inner workings or mystery that is God. I believe the vastness of His love is too much for our mortal, fallen minds to grasp.
I am sure our worth is not found in a paycheck and that every life holds the same amount of value. That amount does not begin with a dollar sign.
This is not the mind set of our culture. Questions such as “what do you do?” and “what are you?” are quick to form on the lips of strangers and long lost friends. The answers sought are often job titles, and expected as definitions of a person instead of how a paycheck is earned.
When a mother is asked what she “does” there is often a qualifier placed in front of her answer, either by herself or the person she’s speaking to. “Oh, I’m JUST a mom,” or, “so you JUST stay home?”
Don’t cut yourself short, moms! There’s no “just” about this gig! Let’s all get together on one thing; in the language of motherhood, “just” should indeed be treated as a four letter word. Let’s not say it about ourselves or let others use it in reference to our vocation.
There are many calls to the same vocation. This is especially true of motherhood. Some are called to be the family breadwinner; some are called to be home fulltime, some half time. There are mothers who are called to bring new life into the world yearly during their season of fertility in the form of a new baby while others carry the cross of infertility. Some mothers are called to mother children of the world who have no mother.
As mother, the one thing we all have in common is that we are all called to live our lives breathing life into the world, be that into little souls trusted in our care or in the many other ways God calls that breath from us into the world. It is fruitful. It is good, and it is different in each mother.
I am currently called to be a work at home mother. Working from home is stressful, but worth it for our family. I started working from home for a family centered company when our second daughter was two months old. The opportunity was a God send for me.
Joseph and I had just had two daughters in one year and realized we needed an additional source of income. Over these two years my commitment has varied. My role and time commitment has nicely settled into about 15 hours a week.
My freelancing career has grown greatly over these past two years. On average, I am working on freelance assignments about10 hours a week, putting my total weekly working hours at about 25.
The addition of these freelance hours has helped me become a better worker and a better mother. When I found myself too overwhelmed with these commitments I took a step back and really discerned how I work.
I used to “work” all throughout the day. Making a phone call here and there, checking my e-mail every hour and answering e-mails as they came in. At the end of the day I had really only “worked” maybe an hour and a half. Yet, I felt like I was working all day every day and that the TV was babysitting my children.
My husband and I decided this was not working for our family and after much discernment, we decided that although I am still called to be a work at home mother, how I went about it needed to change. With my freelancing growing we decided it was time to make room in our lives for me to have some solid and defined working time.
For the past few months we have set aside larger blocks of time for me to work. Instead of always feeling like my mind was on work while my kids fit between those stresses, we’ve shifted our focus. I work less days but for longer periods of time. This has created less time stressing about work and more time actually working. It’s been a wonderful change for me mentally and it’s been great for my projects and my motherhood. I’ve been able to take on more freelance work and feel the publications I work on for my job have become better as a result.
The last trimester of this pregnancy has been one of great discernment for this work at home mother. I have a masters degree and the student loans that often accompany such a degree. In the past month many have asked me when I am going to “use” my degree.
My favorite question is, “when are you going to stop wasting your degree and go back to work?”
The question boils my blood. I do work. I am a mother, and a working mother at that. Just because I don’t leave my house everyday does not mean I’m not working, that I’m wasting my education or that I am financially lazy.
A few doors were recently opened to me and there was the possibility of me going back to work, full or part time, outside of the home.
During the daytime hours I was able to talk myself into this. I thought of all the debt we could pay off, vacations we could take and stress that would be taken off our plate.
But, the night. The night was another story.
For a few days I was unable to sleep and didn’t know why. Then I started having panic attacks. As perfect as the plan sounded, I am not called to it. I am called to be doing what I’m doing. I am home with my kids AND I work. The way our family pieces that all together is unconventional, but it works for us.
I feel so blessed to be home with my girls, doing a job I really like, working with people who share the same values as we do and building my writing career right along side my family. We are willing to sacrifice to live in the way we feel called. Just as mothers who work full time outside of the home are willing to sacrifice things to fill the role they are called to as a mother. Same vocation: different and equal call.
Like many other things in life, motherhood seldom goes exactly as expected. I learned this lesson in my first days as a mother when I was unable to breastfeed. I was heartbroken. I had convinced myself that to be a good mother one MUST breastfeed. God did not create that opportunity for me. Instead, His plan was much greater. His plan was Irish twins for us. This heartbreak turned into the blessing we call Anna Clare.
As I write this, I am very pregnant. My mother has come for a few days to help take care of the girls and clean my house so I may rest and get ahead on my projects and job to prepare for the birth of our third daughter. On this very day we are both answering the call to motherhood. My mother on her hands and knees scrubbing floors for her daughter and I in a chair, resting so that the daughter in my womb may grow strong and ready to enter the world. Very different kinds of work, but work none the less.
Truth is, there is as many definitions of a good mother as there are mothers. We need not compare our situations and gifts to one another. Motherhood is not a competition. There need not be winners and losers. As mothers we love children, and therefore want all mothers to be winners.
We’re all working mothers. We are exactly the mothers our children need and we fulfill this call in many different ways.
Motherhood, in all its many forms is a high call and a lot of WORK. No ifs, ands, buts or “justs” about it!