Being a mom was not something I fantasized about as a child, or even as a teenager. Becoming a wife, maybe… but I don't ever remember daydreaming about motherhood. When our first child was born, my husband, having a sister who is 13 years younger, knew more about taking care of babies than I did. He could get Jaden to calm down when he was crying, whereas the only way I knew to console was to feed. As a friend I met later in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) put it, I felt as though a monkey could take better care of my baby than I could.
I put off the decision about whether or not to return to work as long as I possibly could. Two weeks before my maternity leave would end, I drove to the Chase Bank branch where I worked and informed my boss that I would not be returning. She was very understanding, which made it easier to leave my previous job. Her reaction did not, however, make it any easier to adapt to my new role as a mother. Feelings of inadequacy were my constant companion during my first year as a stay-at-home-mom.
Added to my struggle to embrace a new identity, where I was no longer a financial contributor to the household, were comments from people who would say things like, "What? Doesn't she have a college degree? Why did she waste all that money on school?" Or, "So when do you think you'll go back to work?" Sometimes they didn't even need to say anything. Just a simple look which said, "Oh, your one of those women…" was enough to make me feel about about as tiny as a dust mite.
Despite all of this, I knew when the days of returning to my desk job approached and I looked down at this little piece of me that I had carried inside of me for nine months and brought into this world a few short months before, I could not leave him with someone I did not know. I did not want to leave him with anyone. So I didn't. And little by little, month after month, I began to feel comfortable in the new body I was left, the new life, the dirty diapers and the midnight feedings. But I had to seek God's help. Doing it on my own was not something I was capable of.
Everything came full circle about a year ago when I was buying a birthday gift for my oldest son, now a big brother and almost five years old, at a little local toy store. I was talking to the cashier about school and writing and she asked what I did. The words, "Oh, I'm just a stay-at-home mom right now…" came tumbling out of my mouth. A gentleman standing behind me spoke up and said, "Don't ever say you're just a stay-at-home mom. That's the most important job in the world." Although I'd come to realize the value of my new role, his words really sank into me. It was one of those days when I needed a little extra affirmation, as we all do from time to time, and God provided it through this complete stranger who happened to be there.
Honestly, I don't know when I will return to the work force. I do know that right now, in this season of my life, God wants me at home taking care of my boys (Dad included) and writing when I have the time. What he asks of another mom is not for me to say. So, whether we're working moms or stay-at-home moms, we're all in this thing called parenting together. And maybe if we'd stop spending so much time judging each other, we'd have more time to offer the love and support each of us so desperately needs.
"Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it."