There’s always that perpetual argument over who works harder. The women who juggle car lines and cleaning and naps and laundry and spit-up and diapers and tantrums? Or the women who juggle car lines and cleaning and naps and laundry and spit-up and diapers and tantrums, plus that pesky job outside the home?
The latter has been me for seven years. Our lives have been an endless cycle.
Monday: Up by 5:30 AM, scramble for an hour, get the kids up, try to make them eat before they run out of time, brush teeth, get dressed, brush hair, argue about tangles in said hair, find lost shoes, repeat myself, repeatedly, grab bags, scramble to the car, go back for whatever was forgotten, drive like a maniac, drop off the kids (sometimes in two different places), continue to drive like a maniac, work, lunch, work, drive like a maniac, pick up kids, get home, make dinner, eat, clean up kitchen, homework, kids argue over who is taking a bath first, referee, bathe kids, get dressed, comb wet hair, argue about tangles in said hair, brush teeth, put the kids to bed, they get up, put them to bed, they get up, put them to bed....
Finally, by 9:00 PM the house is quiet. Time to sit down? If I sit, I will fall asleep. The kind of sleep where you have conversations and make important life decisions and have no memory of them the next day. No sitting. Not only does sitting make me sleepy, it makes me ridiculously lazy. Seriously lazy.
Does everybody have clean underwear? What am I wearing to work? What are the girls wearing to school/daycare? Do we need to make formula? Do we need to make lunches? Did you sign that form? Where is her backpack? Where is the kitchen counter? Pretty sure it is somewhere under that mountain of clutter.
Finally, by 11:00 PM the house is dark and quiet. Crash. Reset. Start again in 6-7 hours.
It is absolutely exhausting, and, to be honest, not as rewarding on some days as it should be. There aren’t enough hours in the day. If there were more hours, there still wouldn’t be enough.
Like a lot of mothers, during my 12 weeks of maternity leave after Rachel was born in 2006, I insisted that I wasn’t returning to my job. It wasn’t what I wanted; it wasn’t right.
For probably the first time ever, Travis and I created a budget and tried our best to make it work, but to no avail. So, I put on my big girl business suit and back to the bank I went.
Three years passed, and then Leah was born in 2010. Travis and I had a four-year-old and a new baby. Again, I insisted that I wasn’t going back. Not what I wanted. We did the math. It didn’t work. We did the math. Just not happening.
I read a blog some time ago that really slapped me around a little. I don’t remember the author or the title. All I remember was that somewhere in the middle, it read “don’t become your distractions.” I realized that was happening to me. I was so caught up in the daily scramble that I was missing the important stuff, the “Mommy, watch this” and “Mommy, guess what?” and “Mommy, can you [insert what’s important to a three-year-old]” and even the silly arguments. It was all being pushed to the back burner by my distractions. Granted, some were valid distractions, like working to pay for food and shelter. But others? Absolutely not.
Our third daughter, Audrey, was born last October. It’s pretty safe to say that my contributions at the bank weren’t saving any lives. I didn’t belong there. I felt like I was being led to stay home, but not for my own selfish reasons this time.
I realized what had happened. In 2006, it was about me. In 2010, I selfishly made it about me. In 2013, I made it about Him, my obedience, and my responsibility as a mother, essentially giving myself.
If you read my other post here, you’ll know that God taught my husband and me that He is in control, and all things come in His time, on His schedule. I learned to just let it go and decided that if I was supposed to stay home, it would work. If not, then there had to be some important, yet unknown, reason I was still at my job.
We did the math again. And again. And again. One day a few months ago, it worked. Just like that.
Now that I look back, my priorities shifted from trying to do and have it all to simply wanting to raise our girls to be the light of Christ and for me to lead by example. How could they learn from me if they were being taught by other people? I thought I was the one waiting, when all along, He was waiting on me. He faithfully waited six years for me to hand it over to Him. Six years.
If you know me, you know that I am most definitely not room mother material. I’m not a little kid magnet. Pretending to be excited over random arts and crafts and bad knock knock jokes is harder than it should be. My kids? I can handle. Others? Not so much. I’m not very creative or crafty, though I do love a hot glue gun. I want my girls to grow up understanding that it’s okay to not wear make up every day or have a brand new car or 300 satellite channels, that everything is not a competition.
Quitting my job is by far the single scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’m already exhausted thinking about it. But, it will be a much more rewarding kind of exhausted. With God’s grace, I can be patient, enthusiastic, selfless, understanding, organized, for starters, and hopefully, helpful to moms who haven’t made this leap yet.
Not every family can afford the luxury of being able to survive on one income. In fact, we haven’t even seen proof we can do it just yet. This has to be our biggest leap of faith ever. We have faith that it will work and that God will provide. And, with His guidance, I’m confident that I can do this.
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)
I have an incredible amount of respect for working mothers. For some, for me, the guilt and the exhaustion weigh heavily on the heart and body. Unless you’ve tried to do it all, it is hard to understand. But, as the end of the month is creeping closer, I’m beginning to realize that nothing I’ve done at work over the past 15 years compares to this little endeavor.
With lots of prayer, we’ll still be able to eat, and I won’t be loony by Labor Day. So, say a prayer for my sanity and potty-training capabilities and Travis’ stomach (since I’ll have to cook occasionally). Next week, I’m trading in my laptop and pencil skirts for a diaper bag and spit up covered yoga pants.