Tuesday, May 11, 2010

All mothers are working mothers

I had fully intended to write this on Sunday, which was mother’s day, but I worked all day, then went to dinner and to my brother’s and finally to bed. Now, I must say that I was raised in a family where the special days were to be marked, remembered and to be made special. My husband and his family worked regardless of what day it was and he always has since we were married. So, we have done our best to make sure that each other and our children know that they are special every day. This creates some inner turmoil for me but without any guilt. So, you could say that I am very inconsistent about the special days, it is hit or miss with me. However, I do my best to be consistent with the special people and even there I falter at times.

So because mothers at home are often considered as ones who don’t “work” I thought it would be good to start off with a definition.

Merriam-Webster’s first definition of work:

1 : activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something

I would add that your heart and spirit is engaged in the work one does. Building people requires one’s whole being. Parenting, not just mothering, is the work of building people. The ones born or adopted by us are not a blank slate. The young are not just DNA to be rearranged and manipulated by adults. Everyone comes with personalities, gifts, weaknesses and strengths. As parents we are the ones who have an opportunity to love, influence, train, equip, contribute to the growth and maturing of children until they are ready to be launched.

By God’s grace, I have had the privilege of not only being a mother but being home with my children to raise them. For the past month and a half I have been working full-time with a round trip commuting time of approximately 2 hours. That is a lot of time away from home. Granted my children are now 20, 18, and 17, my best hours have been dedicated to my work.

I believe that women and men are wired differently. The way mothers and fathers relate to their children is different. I can imagine that there is a great tension internally for a mother of young children who works full time outside of the home. I wonder, do these women have to, in some way, distance themselves emotionally from their children? If you are going to give your all on the job, wouldn't you have to? I don’t think it is humanly possible to be fiercely dedicated in the practical to both the job and the family. How does one do both well? In your mind, one can convince oneself just about anything. The way one lives out the best hours of the day determines where the heart lies unless of course, your heart is in one place and the living out is being done somewhere else. Can such work be successful to the one doing it? [If there are mothers who are in this category reading this blog, I hope that they will leave a comment and answer some of these questions honestly.]

The reason I am speculating is because the job I have been doing is running my brother-in-law’s business with my husband and it is all consuming. It is not something you can just go and put your hours in and then go home to your family and leave work at work. It is on my mind constantly. I really care about the business because I love and care about my brother-in-law, Billy. Billy has entrusted his livelihood to us.

Switching gears to home has been difficult for me. I just know that I would not have wanted to do this even 3 years ago with 3 teenagers. Perhaps that is because I solely invested in my children since they were born. It is not just a case of me being at home, these dear ones have been at home with me being educated there. One of the greatest joys of my life as a mother at home has been equipping them with the tools for learning. Of course, if I had to work outside the home, I believe that I would have been given the grace to do it, however, the internal tension would still be there for me. The heart connection that developed between my children and me by being at home is a surprising gift.

The women who have divided their loyalties between the job and the home. My hat is off to you. You love your husbands and your children. It is certain that most of you give your best to your family and at your place of employment. To give your all to both however is just mathematically impossible. There is no such thing as superwoman or super mom. Super tired and worn out is probably more like it. To do it and keep your sanity, that is a miracle. Yes, I believe in the supernatural but not superheroes.

Single moms who solely carry the burden of home and the job, my heart goes out to you. Whether it is by choice or circumstance, that has got to be a tough road.

It is my hope that children continue to have mothers and fathers who are attentive to their upbringing, to be the primary influences in the formative years and to limit the delegation of their care while their offspring are very young.

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