You’re a working mom. You wake up early, hoping for a couple quiet minutes alone. Before you know it, your morning race begins and you’re coaxing sleepy kids out of bed. How old are kids before they can get dressed, eat, and brush their teeth at a reasonable pace? Out the door you all go, hoping you have everything. Day in and day out, you follow the same rhythm. Always rushing to get the kids ready, drive all over town, and then be your best at work.
The whole time, you’re fighting yourself. Should you be working? Is it selfish to be a working mom if you don’t need the money? What does your mother/mother-in-law/pastor think about working moms?
Proverbs 31, June Cleaver, and Joanna Gaines
At some point, the idea that a good Christian mama’s calling is to raise her children became popular. If she works outside the home, somehow she’s stepped out of God’s will. Even though it’s not as popular today, as mamas, we struggle to find the right balance in our lives.
As a little girl, I remember watching Leave it to Beaver reruns, the quintessential tv family—strong male head of household, pleasing wife, and 2 sons. June Clever was so calm, quiet, and accommodating, the perfect tv mom.
The storyline still exists in the church today. What is the proper role of women? Should mothers work? Should they stay home with their kids?
If you ask 100 people, you’re likely to get 100 different answers. Someone will tell you “no” because motherhood is your calling. Another might add “maybe” if it’s financially necessary. Yet someone else will say “yes” because we need to minister in our communities. You end up more confused than when you began.
If we look to Proverbs 31 for guidance, the mystery woman we find is a mogul. She gets up early, cares for her family, cares for her staff, manages her household, runs a couple businesses, and apparently, is fairly pleasant. (I like to believe she got tired and a little snippy at times also.) This seems impossible.
And then came Joanna Gaines. She unwittingly created a larger conversation about women’s roles in the workplace. With thousands of social media followers and hoards of visitors to Waco, she emerged as the model female Christian business mogul.
Joanna Gaines makes being a Christian working mom acceptable.
Bigger questions to ask yourself
Asking if you should work is the wrong question. Working represents small portion of your larger life. We need to go deeper.
For many of us, work is about more than the job. Our identity and worth become mixed in with the tasks filling our days. We find value in projects, deadlines, and results. Sometimes, work brings us the fulfillment and appreciation we lack at home. When we feel like the world’s worst mama, work takes away the sting of home.
4 questions a working mom needs to consider:
- What does work mean to you? This is your chance to identify what role work plays in your life. Does it allow you to use your gifts, develop relationships, or have fun?
- How is work filling emotional voids in your life? For some of us, work is the place where we feel needed and appreciated. At home we doubt ourselves. We say the same thing 100 times every day but the kids still can’t seem to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. It feels like a losing battle.
- What are your unique gifts and talents? We each have a unique set of gifts and talents. This is what makes us so valuable. There’s no one else who can do things exactly like us or see the world like we do.
- How can you serve others? When we combine the best of what work means and how we’re wired, we work for even greater reasons. No matter where we work, we can serve others.
Take some time to consider your answers? For many of us, even when work feels hard or overwhelming, it’s still worth it.
Everything is a trade-off. We land our dream job but miss the spring orchestra concert for a last-minute trip. Maybe you passed up that job offer to stay home a little longer. Good and bad walk hand-in-hand.
Even when my kiddos were babies, I worked. Each morning, I packed a day’s worth of food, diapers, and toys into the truck. From farm to farm, the girls and I drove. I never regretted our days spent working at the grain mill or hauling straw because I enjoyed my job. Working meets my emotional needs because I’m hard-wired to get stuff done.
Maybe you work for similar reasons or maybe you want to stay home until your kids leave the nest. Either way, the best decisions always reflect how God gifted you and your family, not other people’s opinions. When we focus on pleasing people instead of pleasing God, disappointment follows for everyone.
Instead of focusing on if you should work or stay home, ask yourself the 4 bigger questions. Be honest. Would you rather stay home with your kiddos or do you enjoy working? Neither answer is wrong, but the honest answer leads you to contentment and joy.
Share your answers with your husband, get his feedback, pray for guidance, and then move forward. Take the first step. Maybe your answers revealed some emotional needs. Take a break and focus on your health first. Then, move forward slowly and deliberately. You don’t need to go all-in and make life-altering changes. Use your gifts by volunteering or working a part-time job during school hours. Life is definitely not a sprint.
Deciding to pursue a career or stay home full-time is a personal choice. Neither option makes you a better Christian mom. Your best option uses your gifts and talents to serve people and bring glory to God. Go slowly. Focus on the next right step in your journey. You might be surprised where you end up.
This article originally appeared at KellyBeckleyShank.com, published with permission.