Yet another post from an exasperated momma defending her choice to work outside the home came across my Facebook feed this morning. The commenters quickly jumped at the opportunity to send a rally cry for the working mom.
All I could think was, this is exhausting and defeating.
I’ve lived on both sides of the never-ending working mom vs. stay-at-home-mom battle. In the past five years, I have worked outside the home in good ole’ corporate America, I’ve run my own photography business, I’ve stayed home with my babies, and I’ve run our non-profit ministry.
With each experience, I’ve learned something: regardless of how I spend my time from 8-5, I will never do it all. The term work-life balance is a farce. I will never check all of the items off my list, I will never be present enough with my husband or my kids, I will never have enough time to invest fully in all of my friendships. I will never feel satisfied with every project or meet every deadline. I will forget conference calls and be late to meetings. Someone will always be sick at the most inopportune time. I will never clean all of the dust bunnies or fold all of the laundry. I will never exercise enough or eat as well as I should. I will never impart enough wisdom on to my littles.
The facade of perfection or balance or whatever you want to call it is just that: a facade. It looks nice and tidy in photos on Instagram. But, it’s not reality. Let’s call a spade a spade and move on.
In stark contrast to tearing one another down (or taking a stand for “our side”), can we simply lay down our weapons, breathe a heavy sigh of relief, and take a moment to notice the lightness of our load without all of that artillery?
Instead of taking a stand for the mom working outside the home or the stay at home mom or the homeschooling mom, let’s take a stand for the mom.
Whether or not we bring home a paycheck or send our kids to public school or private school or un-school, we are all just trying to do our best. We desire to love our babies well. We want the little victories that include moving the laundry to the dryer before mold grows and the big ones that come in the form of proud little hands displaying awards for kindness. We just want to sign all of the worksheets (I am still getting used to ALL. THE. WORKSHEETS. that come along with school-aged littles), to feed the bellies under our roof something of nutritional value, to model grace for our little people when we mess up and, somedays, we just want to make it through until bedtime.
Motherhood is the craziest, messiest, most thrilling, hilarious, humbling, exhausting and rewarding thing I have ever done. I don’t want to waste a single ounce of energy in a battle over who has this mom gig best figured out (spoiler: no one).
As I read the back and forth banter this morning and saw sides emerge, words I had written a year ago came to mind:
What I desire most for my children is not worldly success. My top priority is not where they attend college or even if they attend college. I want them, above all else, to love extravagantly. I want their lives to be marked with generosity and compassion. I want them to have a heart for the nations. I want them to live in a way that proves this world is not our home.
The striving, climbing, self-promoting that is so commonplace in our culture – it doesn’t have to be that way.
The realization hit me: if I expect my children to love extravagantly and extend grace and empathy to others, I need to model this in my own life.
I need to be courageous enough to lay aside jealousy or snarky comments. I need to genuinely, sincerely believe in the good of my fellow momma-warriors and call it forth. When I see a friend shining brightly in her gifts, I need to be right there in the front row cheering her on and encouraging her efforts. When I know a sister is struggling under the weight of obligation or resentment or oppression, I need to step in and help carry her load.
As cheesy or trite as it sounds, we are better together. Honest to goodness.
So, come on, work-outside-of-the-home-mommas and stay-at-home-mommas and homeschooling-mommas and public-schooling-mommas and bottle-feeding-mommas and breastfeeding-mommas and attachment-parenting-mommas and helicopter-mommas and free-range-mommas and adoptive-mommas and foster-mommas, let’s link arms and walk right off this old battlefield, together.