“Mom, what are you going to do when you grow up?”
“What do you mean buddy? I am grown up! I get to help you grow up. That’s my job.”
“No mom, like I mean “real job.” Like when I am a grown up and you are done being a mom. What are you going to do?”
Little did my sweet boy know, that he was putting to words the very thoughts that were rolling around my head as I prepare to send him off to Kindergarten.
“What am I going to do when I grow up?”
“Mom! my tummy is hungry!”
“You just had cereal and half a piece of MY peanut butter toast” I gently remind my sweet boy who is commonly referred to as our “little garburator”. As I am cleaning up the breakfast dishes he stands by my feet and looks up at me with his pleading hungry eyes.
“Buddy, we just ate! you will have to wait until snack”
“Mom I am bored? can we paint? can we go to the park? I want to go the beach.” as the words come out of the mouth of my sweet little 3 year old, all I hear is: “mom can I make a mess so you can clean it up? Mom, can we leave the house and then have me ask for a snack 5 minutes after we close the front door and proceed to play at the park for 10 minutes and then ask to go home again because it’s too hot? Mom, can we drive 45 minutes while I ask every 3 minutes if we are there yet and then have you carry all my earthly belongings down to the beach and then take home every seashell and half the sand with us?”
“Being a mom is such a blessing”. As Mothers, we are pretty much forced to say that. People around us do not let us forget that they grow too fast and the years are too short. We can’t be ungrateful because not everyone gets to be parents and if we come across motherhood, we should be counting our blessings rather than tallying the days until they move out. Strangers freely give advice on how to raise them and family often leaves their unwanted two cents for us to stumble upon. No matter the decision you make as a mother there is someone who will not approve how you are “handling your children” and you will hear about it. Whether it is a complete stranger or your own mother. Everyone has advice.
Now, not all advice is unwanted or unwarranted. I have received a lot of advice in my days and I am left to discern which words to hold dear and which ones to let roll off my back, the point is, I am listening. I hear what people are saying. And whether I want it to or not, all those words, both filtered and unfiltered, hit my soul and leave their marks.
I think what makes motherhood so different when looked at as a “job” versus all the other careers I have had and roles I have played, is everyone, no matter who they are, seems to have an opinion of how your job should be done. People all seem to have an idea of what would make the perfect mother. I rarely got advice on how to be a server at a restaurant or how to teach my preschool class. Actually, most people responded to both of those jobs with the same statement: ” Wow, that is a hard job! You definitely don’t get paid enough for what you do.”
Huh? Why can’t people say that about motherhood? It’s true, isn’t it?
Lately, I have been struggling with making a few decisions that will affect both myself and my family. Like all choices that we make as mothers, there is more than one way to have a right answer and more than one way to make it work wonderfully for both my family and I.
Going back to work. The transition from having children, being at home with them, and going back to work. This world we live in now puts a lot on mothers to “Have it All” I have noticed in a lot of my conversations with friends and family and even other mothers the conversation at some point ends up at the question, “so what are you going to do now?” Now that my son is starting Kindergarten and my in-home daycare is slowly coming to a close with only one family left, this leaves people wondering what I am going to be doing with my life. ummm….. good question, I guess?
I feel like I should probably mention that I am a sarcastic person, by nature, so these kinds of questions spark a fire in me that is pure sass and attitude. I am not sure about anyone else who has played the role of a mother, but motherhood is hard work. How come mothering is not enough? Why do we always need to want more? Why is it looked at with such a negative attitude of laziness and almost with a tiny bit of selfishness, when a woman wants to stay home and raise her children. I clearly understand that not all families have the ability to let one parent stay home with the children and not bring in a second income. I realize that not all families have two adults who are able to bring home an income if they wanted to. Not all families have two adults.
Now I also know a great deal of amazing moms who are aware that they are only able to be amazing when they are given the time to let their other strengths grow and be used. Working outside of the home brings these woman great joy which in return allows them to be the amazing mom they were intended to be. Knowing this about yourself and being able to find that balance is so important. I would actually say the majority of my friends have found their “working out of the home” groove and I must say they are so much fun to hang out with. They are living a life that works well for them. My amazing co-founder of this very blog has found her groove and is making such an impact on the world around her and on the hearts of her own two children.
Sometimes I truly feel and start to believe that what I am doing is not enough. That deciding to stay home with my own offspring is not enough, and I should be contributing more to society and my family. I feel the pressure to make something of my life, as if raising humans isn’t doing enough. I know I am not alone. There is a group of us who feels the pressure to become a mompreneur or find a way to be “doing something” with our lives all because of people’s opinions. Raising children is an important job. Not because children are sensitive, delicate, and vulnerable. The reason raising children is so important is that they will one day be teenagers, young adults, adults, lawyers, doctors, tow truck drivers, fathers, mothers, neighbors and one of them will be the Prime Minister of this great country. Raising children is not all about play dates and healthy food. Raising children is about nourishing good character and fostering the growth of positive decision making. Bringing up the next generation of adults is a pretty important and exhausting job. It should not be looked down on as a burden but should be granted the respect and dignity that it deserves.
It is not just woman who feel this pressure, men have it even worse. I find it shocking how unaccepting people are when it comes to a man who has decided to stay home with his children. We rag on men for not being involved in their children’s lives and harp on them and use terms like “deadbeat dad”. But then when a father decides to take time off to spend with his children he doesn’t get praised and encouraged for his decision he gets asked when he is going to get a real job? Seriously, there is just so many things wrong with this. Fathers are not babysitters unless they are taking care of someone else’s children. Fathers spending the day with their children should not be a rare sight. Those children being equally raised by two adults who love and cherish them are going to be some pretty amazing adults in the end.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to be more. More wealthy, more successful, more creative, more important, more popular, more flexible, more gorgeous, more fit, more organized..etc.. Yes, there is a place in life where wanting more and setting goals and striving to be your very best is so important, I do not want to take away from that. But my main struggle these days is knowing when it is best to just be content with where I am and strive to make the things in my life so much greater, instead of adding more to my plate. Pouring my energy into building up my children to be amazing adults rather than just raising them to be able to live on their own. Focusing on gifts I have been given and using those to help others. Instead of adding more and more to my already full plate, how do I just become content with what I have and the calling that is already on my life?
The pressure that is all around us can make us feel as if what we are doing is never enough and that if we do not have our own pinterest board or instagram account documenting our steps of the journey then we are obviously not committed. In finding contentment in our everyday lives I believe we will be one step closer to creating a life we were meant to live. When we only focus on the words of those who we trust and can discern the truths in what we hear, then we will be able to find our calling. God has called us all to Him and has also given us each a mission. There is a time for stretching ourselves and a time to stop settling for less, but there is also great wisdom in knowing when that time is. Knowing when you are in a season where you need to just focus on family, career, or school.
As I figure out my own journey and find out what I am going to be doing when I “grow up”, I keep finding comfort in knowing that my future is already planned. My future is already laid out by the most amazing creator of the universe. My job is to just rest in His peace and make sure that I am keeping in constant communication with Him. God can speak to us through so many ways. I find for me He speaks so clearly through the simple questions of my children and the deep discerning thoughts of my close friends. I am still learning to block out what the world around me is saying and the pressures I so unnecessarily put on myself. I am learning to filter out what I can handle and create a well balanced life.
How do you balance your life? How do you keep focused on the motives behind the things that you do and the decisions you make? How do you block out the unwanted “noise” around you from people who “mean well”?
I would love to hear and learn from what you do.
I will share how I have been focusing my goals as well as balancing my family responsibilities on my next blog post. Today’s post was written over a week’s time and was meant to express my frustrations and honest heart on a complicated matter. I do not have it all together or all figured out, but hopefully some of my tools will inspire someone else and help them where they are at.