To work outside the home or not to work? The world of motherhood is deeply divided on the answer to this question. Unfortunately this dividing knife often cuts both ways, leaving mothers second-guessing their choice to either stay home or stay in the workforce.
As a mother of two who works full time, I feel the tension, too. I often hear statements such as “my husband and I care enough about the spiritual health of my kids for me to stay home,” or “I had a great career once, but I chose the kids over my career.” Statements such as these can lead many working moms to become insecure and feel as if they were undedicated to their children and families. As believers, our goal should instead be to charge one another to be the mother where
Strength and dignity are clothing, and she laughs at the day to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. (Proverbs 31:25-29)
For the working mom, the struggle is to do all of these things well despite the busyness of her life outside of the home.
This Mother’s Day, I’d like to paint a portrait of a day in the life of a working mom, along with offering a few suggestions for how you can pray for and serve the working moms in your life.
A Portrait of a Working Mom
Each morning I wake up at 5:15am to have quiet time, get myself ready, make breakfast and get my daughter ready. Some time later, we’re out of the house and off to make the 20 minute drive to drop her off. By 8am I’m in my desk and ready to start the work day. Each morning I feel like I’ve run a marathon before I even clock in.
But the hardest part of this morning race is dropping off my precious baby girl. She blows me kisses, begs me to sing one more song together and waves good-bye until I’m out of sight. Day after day I happily endure this part of my morning because I know she receives benefits from my sacrifice.
Yet, day after day, it ceases to get any easier. The difficulty lies in the thought that I’m abandoning my daughter because I’m sure she would rather stay with me. I’m tempted to believe the lie that being a working mother makes me an absent mother, and being an absent mother makes me a bad mother — even though we aren’t in a financial position for me to stay at home with my children.
And this is only the first half of my day. The latter half begins when I clock out. After doing so, I rush home to cook, clean and spend as much time with my daughter as possible before her bedtime (which is usually only 2 hours). It feels as if I’m failing to “look well to the ways of my household,” despite the fact that I do all of this for the sake of serving my family. Under the realization that I only see my daughter for about 4-5 hours a day (on a good day), I realize how precious each minute is with her and how important it is that we use each moment as a teachable moment.
Balancing Work and Family
Yet, instructing our little ones in the way of the Lord can be a full time job! The working mom must consider, “How do I obtain the time and energy to do these things well — all while working 40 or more hours per week?” A friend seeking to help me answer this question once asked me, “Who gets your best?” In other words, if forced to choose between work and home, who should get the best of you?
It is this question that I believe all working mothers should ask themselves. Although she must work hard while on the clock, her husband and kids should get the best of her rather than the crumbs. The working mom would do well not merely to drive home, cross the threshold of the front door and collapse on the nearest couch after work. Though working may help to meet the immediate needs of our children, we must note that their greatest need is for Christ. May this be what keeps us up at night, contemplating how we can best share and show Christ to our children.
For the sake of having the time and energy to point our children to Christ, it is worth adjusting how we work. We must work in such a way that we can still be actively involved in our household, realizing that should be our priority. We may need to ask for more help with projects, take more breaks if possible or decrease our daily work load so that we have the energy to be present mothers and wives. Our husband and children should get more than what is left over from our lives outside of the home. May we seek the Lord’s wisdom in doing so for the sake of our families and His ultimate glory.
How You Can Help Working Moms
In addition, though, we should recognize fathers who make their own set of sacrifices and have their own set of responsibilities. Wives are a helpmate in the family and should not bear the burden alone of working to provide for the family. Even still, husbands can help their wives excel in being a working mother. Husbands, if your wife is a working mother, here are practical ways you can serve her.
- Do the little things.
Fathers, you can serve your wife by assisting in the morning marathon, taking out the kids’ clothes, packing their lunches, make your wife’s breakfast or helping plan and prepare dinner.
- Speak up.
Husbands, you can complement your wife in public, acknowledge her for what she does and speak well of her to the children.
- Love her.
Take the time to write her a note, plan date nights, surprise her, free her up to do what she enjoys and plan special family days.
Friends and family, be sure to take time to ask her how she’s doing. A working mom carries these burdens on her shoulders while constantly questioning herself. Give her the opportunity to express her worries, and comfort her with truth. Remind her that God cares more about her children than she could possibly hope to and that He will provide all that they might need.
Friends can also invite her family over for dinner, relieving the working mom from cooking for a night. Come over on a Saturday and help her clean, or join her in an afternoon walk. Being a working mom can feel like a lonely road. Assuring her that you’re there for her can make all the difference.
Being a working mom is a challenge. Yet one of the greatest joys of being a mother is the way in which motherhood brings us to a greater understanding of the love of our great Lord and His sacrifice to save us. This Mother’s Day, may we recognize the load our moms carry, the thousands of thankless tasks she does throughout the year and the unending love she seeks to pour out on her family.
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