I know the working-outside-the-home mom/ SAHM issue can be a doozy of a topic, and it's one I almost always avoid. Rest easy that I'm not talking about the pros and cons of either. Because, like in all things, you can make lists to support both, and people have to decide what's best for their own family.
I'm a working-outside-the-home mom, though I say it loosely because I know working moms who work from 8-5 (or longer) with little flexibility and that's not really my situation. (I also know that stay-at-home moms work just as hard as anyone; I'm not getting too technical with terms in this post.) Back to what I was saying about those moms with tight schedules, I know working full-time while juggling everything else can be difficult. Not to mention single moms doing it on their own! (Staying home can be difficult too, btw.) There are all kinds of moms in all kinds of situations. As for mine specifically, I go into the office about three mornings a week and do a lot of my work from home. I've got some flexibility with my schedule, and I am so grateful for that. I shifted from full-time to part-time after my daughter, Ashtyn, was born. I felt so fortunate that that was even an option. It was the best plan for our family and it's worked out well.
My workload ebbs and flows. Some months are busier than others. I'm embarking on one of my busiest seasons of the year so the term working mom is used a lot less loosely right now. This morning at the office I went over my to-do list, so to speak. And I had this thought: I'm only one person! Then I looked at the magazine on my desk. Ah, the irony. Here's what I saw:
Hilariously ironic, I know. :) But no, work's not killing me. Work can be so many things, can't it? Validating. Satisfying. Fulfilling. Challenging. Draining. Overwhelming. Frustrating. (Come to think of it, those words can describe parenting too. And I've had mom friends taking college courses online or on-campus and I think those words can describe their challenges, too.) I heard someone talking recently about the importance of rest and giving yourself a break. Later, when my children were fighting and every dish in my kitchen was in the sink and I couldn't hear myself think--I had this fleeting thought that rest is hard to come by at this stage of my life. Because my children rarely slow down. I can try to rest after they go to bed, but there are all those hours before eight p.m.
Like I said, rest is hard to come by. In this particular season of my life, that feels glaringly true. I've got a stack of projects staring at me. But even in the months where my workload is not so overwhelming, my children are . . . well . . . children. They're busy. That means that mom is busy. I have friends with kids who are older than mine, and from what I can see, the schedule only gets more full.
So if there are times when rest is out of reach, what can I look to? I've given this a lot of thought, lovey. What helps when we're running low on energy but we need to hang on a little longer?
I got a dose of it last night. I watched the news and fell asleep only to have nightmares about tornadoes. Then I woke up and started praying for the people who are really living the nightmare in Oklahoma.
One of my best friends from college lost her father to cancer just a few days ago. The funeral was yesterday and my heart was heavy for her.
Perspective. When tragedy happens, especially, our perspective shifts.
Things matter on different levels. It matters whether I finish my work project on time--but not the same way that my children matter to me. It matters that I get our laundry done and keep my house functioning. But not in the same way that my husband's health matters to me.
Fresh perspective reminds me of what's important, what's lasting--of what really matters to me. Fresh perspective reminds me of what I'm capable of . . . and what I'm not. The truth is that I am only one person. A good routine and schedule might help me accomplish a little more, but in the end, I can only do so much with the time I'm given.
It's scary to think about the fact that we never know exactly how much time that is. How long will we be here? How many minutes and hours and days and years do I have to invest in my beautiful children? I don't know. Many, I hope. Every day is a day that I'm accountable for my actions, for my words, for my thoughts, for how much love and grace I give, for how many decisions I make with integrity and wisdom. Every day matters. I want this journey that I'm on to be guided by those things that matter the most to me. What's guiding you today? What's driving your decisions? Do you need some fresh perspective? We all do at one time or another. (I need it on a regular basis!)
Here's my thought for today: however much I've got going on right now, I can stop and pray for the hurting families in Oklahoma. If it were me, I'd want people taking time to pray.
I'm on a tight schedule at the moment. But that's okay. I'll do what I can and try not to stress about everything else. I'll remind myself to keep in mind what matters most to me and to count my blessings.
(OK tornado photo)