Dichotomy: Mommy vs. Work

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. Being one of the oldest grandchildren I remember watching very carefully as my aunts and uncles raised my cousins, always excited when I could step in and help. My sister, being the oldest, was always recognized as the nurturer and “natural mother”, which she is, but I would watch from a distance with much anticipation of one day having my own children.

I was helping my sister babysit when we were just 8 and 10, which is unheard of these days, and by 12 I babysat our neighbors kids on a regular basis.

When I got to college, I immediately met a family with two kids, who quickly became my second family, that I babysat once or twice a week as a side job. Diapers never bothered me, tantrums were just a normal part of learning, and the messes were cleaned after the kids were bathed and tucked in bed with time to spare before the parents would come home from their date night to a spotless house and sleeping children.

Then there came the first few years of marriage where everyone around us was having children, but we just weren’t ready yet. We knew we wanted at least a couple years to transition into our incredible life together before adding to our family. I loved being around these young families. Even though they constantly reminded me how I would “never understand until I was a mom,” I still immersed myself in their environment. I’m learning to roll those types of comments off my back, but at the time I swore I knew what motherhood was all about!! They just didn’t know how much experience I had with kids.

Now I know what they meant. These comments weren’t made to be rude, even if my insecurities interpreted them that way, they were just matter-of-fact. There is something about being a mom that is absolutely undefinable until you actually experience it. There is an unexplainable love and calling on our lives as women that cannot fully be grasped or understood until becoming a mom.

Along with playing with dolls and practicing being a mommy, I always turned my desk into a bank, grocery store, or local business. I longed to own my own business one day. It is such a crazy dichotomy, this world we live in. We have come so far in women’s rights and equality in the workplace, and yet that tug on our heart strings yearns for a family.

I have always thought it was possible to be a working mom. My mom stayed at home until we were in elementary school when she returned to working full time. In my mind, that seemed ideal: I would get to be home during the crucial developmental stages and when my kids were gone part of the day at school, I’d be gone to work and be off in time to pick them up or meet them at home. Is this picture even possible anymore? It’s a nice thought, but with the amount of competition that exists in the work force, you’re always replaceable. What boss is going to let you tailor your schedule to meet your family’s needs, when you could either stick your kids in daycare or there is someone else that will willingly take your place?

As I neared the end of finishing my business degree, with this cutthroat corporate chain reality, the idea of being a salon professional became more appealing. I could build my business, make my own schedule, while still being a mom when the time came, and when the kids got older I could eventually open my own salon. This is now my reality. The ironic thing is there still seems to be a level of exhaustion and stress from dividing my time. I understand my situation is more ideal than most, but the reality is that until my son came in to the world I never would have imagined how difficult it would be to leave him every time I go to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and I love the relationships I have with my salon guests, but my heart now understands why I was called to be the nurturer of this precious little life; what a huge responsibility, what an honor!

I am a part of this incredible group of moms and we’re reading The Mission of Motherhood. This book lays out what the role of a mother was designed to look like. It gets my gut wrenching every time I pick it up. It’s the weirdest sensation. There’s this inner turmoil where part of me wants to throw the book down and stop reading because it seems so “traditional” and old-school, just not the way things can be nowadays. Then there’s this other part of me that can’t put it down because I so badly want to provide this amazing, loving, nurturing, supportive environment for my son’s soul. Although the author repeatedly suggests she supports the idea of working moms, it creates a separation anxiety between my two worlds. What I realized today when reading, in order to have peace in this division, I must rest in each role; I must completely give up myself despite society’s push toward pampering and independence. Rather than thinking I need or deserve my own time, rather than wishing my son would fall asleep “on schedule” so I could get some sleep or get something done, I am deciding to let go.

I am deciding to enjoy each moment with him even more than I did before. I am deciding to think ahead of the day what we will do while he’s awake to teach him, stimulate his creativity, and develop his senses. I am deciding to savor every moment, even the screaming, flailing-arms-and-legs-teething moments, as my opportunity to comfort him and soothe his mind, body, and tender unadulterated spirit. I am Mommy for a reason. Even though society tells me to use a “learning” program as the best babysitter, I will teach him these crucial lessons not the television.

All these ideas were what I knew in my heart I wanted to do when we chose to start our family, but in the midst of a chaotic world of running around trying to balance everything, I was beginning to to settle into the “exhausted mom” category, thinking I deserve a break or a day to relax. It’s amazing what a simple shift of perspective does to the soul! Back on track with this renewed mind, I have had the most rewarding day so far. I was actually a little sad when it was nap time because I was having so much fun with my munchkin. We’ve never had sleep issues, but the past few weeks have been a huge struggle putting my 7 month old down for naps. I was just trying and trying, and he was fighting and fighting. Today I hardly had to do anything and he was out! Hhmmm? Could it be because I put my distractions away, was more present and intentional with my time, and therefore wasn’t passing on my anxious tension? Just a thought. We’ll see how everything goes tomorrow.

We’ll, until my munchkin’s next nap time I hope this encourages you to find your purpose and be intentional with your day. Even if you don’t have kids, be intentional with your relationships. I couldn’t get through life without my friends. I appreciate each one for her unique personality, wisdom, and sense of humor.

P.S. If you want kids one day, evaluate these ideas before you get started, it’ll save you some stress when the time comes. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when there’s a plan; it’s amazing how flexible you can be with your time! Don’t forget to smile!



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