Messiness of Motherhood: The 9-to-5 Grind-Mom

12.06.2016 |

Moms can get a bad rap no matter the decision they make.  A mom decides to stay at home to nurture her children and society can easily reduce her to an ambition-less homebody.  A mom decides to work outside of the home and society is ever-so-quick to shout that she loves her job more than her kids.   It seems that moms can't win.  No matter how hard a mom tries to do the right thing for her family, society berates her efforts. 

That is where I want to start.  Being a mom is a hard job.  Regardless of the path you take, you are doing the right thing for your family.  Everyone's circumstances are different.  Everyone's abilities and talents and dreams and goals are different.  We shouldn't prop up stay-at-home-moms without giving due respect to the thankless efforts of moms who work a 9-to-5 with one-eye open; moreover, we shouldn't glorify working moms without also recognizing the true labor of love it is to be confined in a house all day with a screaming child.  Whatever your calling, Mom, you are rocking it. Don't you forget that!

If you read my original blog post (link below) about my current status as a SAHM, you will quickly see how I truly miss being at work.  Again, I know that there are working moms that would give their kidney to stay with their kids, so I don't take my opportunity lightly; however, everyone isn't walking a mile in your dream shoes.  Isn't individuality beautiful?

Below are several working women who have willingly shared their experiences: successes and struggles alike.  Some are riding the thrill of advancing their careers and some would rather call in sick every day to hang out with their kids. Read them all, skim their stories, or pick one mom and try to empathize with her. I know it's a lot.  (But don't miss the end!)  Please listen without judgement to their stories, as we can all benefit from each other.  Isn't it nice to know we are not alone in our messiness of motherhood? 

The Series Links:

Here are the questions that I asked each mom to think over and respond to:

1. Were there any motivating factors for you to be a working mom? Was that always the plan/what you wanted? If not, what was?

2. What are some ways that you are intentional in spending quality time with your kids on a daily basis?

3. What is the most challenging thing about working outside of the home?

4. How do you stay Christ-centered as a working mom? What does your time with the Lord look like?

5. What do you wish other people knew about your experience about working outside the home?

Melanie D. 

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. As a little girl I dreamed about having babies and all the fun that it entailed. But then I decided I also wanted to be a speech-language pathologist and work with children who have Autism and other communication disorders. I dreamed of changing the world, one kid at a time. After 4 years of graduate school and 2 years of marriage, I was thrilled to be pregnant, before ever starting my career. I honestly never thought twice about not pursuing a job in my field. I was excited to put all those years of study into practice! I don’t think my hubby and I even had a discussion about me staying at home once the baby was born. I must admit, working in the school system was the perfect fit for us. Now that 2 of my children have reached school age, I’m blessed to work at the same school they attend. I get to enjoy doing what I love while being only a few steps from their classrooms. It’s pretty win-win as far as being a working mom goes and I realize that my experience is not the typical one. However, we still have to send our youngest to preschool, so there is guilt about that. Until I see how much she is thriving, learning, and growing and it’s made better by the way she beams at me and runs into my arms each afternoon when I pick her up!

I try to spend special time with my children each evening by having one-on-one time in the ways that make them feel loved: listening to them read, playing the game of their choice, or snuggling up next to them in bed and talking to them about their day.

Mom guilt is the absolute worst. I can quickly get caught in a downward spiral about not being “enough” for my kids or my husband or my friends because I don’t have enough time to devote to doing all the things I wish I could do. And then there is the exhaustion. All of the necessary household tasks have to be completed in the evenings after kids are in bed, but by then I’m tired and just want to spend a few minutes hanging out with my husband.

While it seems that our schedules have gotten busier and my responsibilities have increased, my walk with Christ has remained strong and consistent. Most days start with a quiet time at about 5:45 AM, usually at the kitchen table with my husband and a delicious cup of coffee next to me. Despite how much I adore sleep, I have learned that I must commit the first part of my day to the Lord in prayer and study of His Word because if I wait until later in the day, it just won’t happen. There have been seasons that I feel I’m “going through the motions” but God has always been faithful to continue to draw me closer to Him and to allow circumstances in my life that keep me dependent on Him. I’m also so thankful for a husband who loves the Lord and is proactive about keeping Christ as the center of our family through discussion, his example, and his encouragement. I’m also grateful to participate in a small group Bible study with an incredible group of Christian women who challenge me, pray for me, hold me accountable, and desire to grow in their faith alongside me.

Because of my position in the school system, I feel like I get a glimpse of both worlds. I have the opportunity to do a job I enjoy while contributing financially to my family. I also get months of stay-at-home time with my kids in the summer. Both are tough in very different ways. I’m more physically drained when I’m working, but trying to be the world’s best mom and wife when I’m home takes a more emotional toll on me. Most of all, I hate that this disparity exists between women based on whether they work outside of the home or stay home with their children. Work is biblical and good. And whether at home or at a business, our goal should be to point others to Christ, not to put others down.

Amanda R.

Work was just always the plan for me. I wanted to go to dental school, but I got pregnant with Ethan during my junior year of college. I decided that dental hygiene would be a better fit for me as it would allow me to have a career and have a more flexible schedule. But, I always knew I would work, it was never my desire to be a SAHM.

It's harder to find time together now that my kids are older. We are always rushing to their extracurricular activities. I try to be intentional when I can. We try to have a date night with each kid once a month. When we are in the car, I try to get them to tell me about their day by asking questions. We also make time to pray together before the kids go to bed each night.

The most challenging part for me working outside the home would be missing out on the daily stuff: like field trips and class parties. When they were little, I have many memories of driving away as they were in tears because they wanted to stay with me.  It broke my heart to leave them some days. I see all the SAHMs posting pictures of all the fun stuff they do with their kids on Facebook, and I easily become resentful that I can’t spend time like that with my kids.

Staying Christ-centered is a challenge some days. I have been better about doing a 5-minute devotional each morning and usually have prayer time while I'm on my way to work.

I wish other moms knew that I don't work because I don't want to be with my kids. I love being with them and just getting to be a mom. I work because I truly am in love with what I do and feel that God has given me this gift. There have been days where I have felt judged for working outside the home. I once told an older gentleman, who was a patient of mine, about my daughter’s obsession with this one blankie and how she cried while she watched it in the washing machine. He proceeded to tell me that kids get more attached to things like that these days because moms didn't like to stay home anymore. I was shocked, really upset by his words, and I wanted to leave the room to cry. I don't think being a mom is easy whether you work or stay at home, and it's so important that we lift each other up and encourage one another in this journey of motherhood.

Allison M.

There was never a particular plan for me to work outside the home, but Scott has always been supportive. Over the years I have changed companies as I have advanced in my career as a operations HR manager. Currently, I work some nights and weekends, but that means I get to take my kids to the doctor or eat lunch with them without using personal time. My own mother was a SAHM for years, but eventually went back to work. I remember how much she enjoyed her job and I guess that really influenced me. I have gone back and forth about whether I wanted to be full time or not. There are so many challenges with being away. Keeping up with the house work is a never ending battle, there is always something to be done. Also, I have had times when I very much wanted to be home with them. Parker has a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis-1 and special needs. I felt guilty not being with him everyday, and it bothered me a great deal. I know God has big plans for Parker. Now that we have our daughter Abbie, I am also glad I can show her that you can balance having a family and a career.

I make it a point to have quality moments with each of my kids, daily. 
When I can't be there, I leave them notes to tell them how much they mean to me. Whether it's as simple as reacting to something they wrote at school or spending time coloring, I try to reach each kid each day so they know they are the most important people in my life. I make sure my children know they are my first priority and that they always come before work.

I have a daily devotional with which I am very consistent, but I should always be seeking to go deeper in my walk with Christ. I trust God's plan for my children and put my trust in Him for them. I think every mother has a picture of what they believe their life will be like, but that isn't always what Christ has for their lives. I've learned to follow God's path for the season I am in.

I think the confidence and strength I have gained from being successful at work benefits them greatly.

Cristen C.

The practical reason for me to continue working after becoming a mom is definitely financial because we had a load of student debt, but there are definitely personal factors that played into my decision as well. . At the time Cohen was born, I was bringing the most money home and providing insurance for our family. That is how God's hand provided for our family the first several years. I never imagined myself as someone who could have the patience and endurance to stay home full time. In the summers, I have the privilege of staying home with my kids, which is such a joy, but at times I grow weary in those long hours of diapers and whining. I feel strongly that God has called me to teach high school students and work with teachers, to shine a light in my school. He's opened a lot of doors and opportunities for me.

Each drive to and from school is filled with questions, stories, and singing with my kids. Each (chaotic) dinnertime is at the table as a family. Then we play, snuggle, or do chores together until bed time. Our evenings fly by, so we try to spend each one together and not plan many activities on weeknights.

I think the comparison factor is the most challenging part of being a working mom, and social media has only fueled this weakness for me. When I see my (several) stay-at-home mom friends posting about the fun activities or trips they are taking with their kids during the day or the fellowship they are having with one another, I experience a great jealousy. As a working mom, there is not much time to spend with other moms and their kids because any free time we have is mostly devoted to our family time. I often feel sad that the daycare teachers are the ones doing those fun activities with my kids and that my kids are missing out on day trips, and I feel left out of the fellowship with the moms who are in the thick of motherhood like me. It can be a lonely walk sometimes, so I can also give into self-pity - feeling like no one quite understands my struggles.

My husband is a great leader for me in this area - his encouragement and verses always remind me to keep my focus on Christ. My time with the Lord is where I have to give myself grace - it's often quick and looks like 1 verse a day that I meditate on during my lunch period. My drive to and from work is my main time of prayer with praises and requests lifted up all throughout the day. God is gracious and knows my season right now - a season of exhaustion! 

Being a working mom is hard yet rewarding. I feel like I have the best of both worlds since I'm a teacher and have the chance to be home on all of the same breaks with my kids. I think working outside the home means I make intentionality a priority: I'm intentional with how I plan to spend every weekend and break; i'm intentional on every drive to and from school with my kids and my worship; i'm intentional in how I help my kids process and make sense of "being a part of the world but not of the world."

Jennie G.

I always planned to be a working mom, little did I know how truly difficult it would be.  My husband and children deserve the best possible version of myself, and that happens to be a woman that is challenged everyday and works tirelessly to provide for her family.   I am a supply chain account manager and graduated with a business degree.  I am really good at what I do.  I am finally moving up in my career, and staying home would eliminate that opportunity.  

For me, the gratification I receive at work far exceeds that of being a stay at home mom.  However, this is very necessary for me. Very rarely do I feel that I have this mom thing under control, but at work I am always in control!  I did stay home with my daughter Andi as she was ill for an extended period of time; however, it drove me and my husband mad.  I couldn't be the wife I needed nor the mom my kids deserved while staying home.  I would be willing to make that sacrifice if it was in the best interest for my family, but it isn't the case at this time.

Even though I work, I make it a point to spend quality time with my kids.  My daughter crawls in my lap and we read her favorite stories.  We spend a lot of time in Andi's playroom exploring all kinds of random toys.  My husband enjoys asking her to cook dinner with him, and it's a special time for them.  She loves being involved.  With the boys being so young, I make sure to hold them each a little a day.  I must admit leaving them is so difficult because I have an irrational fear that they will forget who I am!

Though I love my career, I really do miss my babies!  The biggest struggle is feeling as if someone else is raising my children while I work (what some would consider) a senseless, meaningless job in comparison to raising my children. We are fortunate to have a nanny to come to our home, so there is a slight bit of comfort there.  My house is a constant mess, but I much rather want to spend the limited time in the evenings with the kids or relaxing. 

As far as staying Christ-centered, we are not a religious household.  My husband and I both grew-up in very non-religious homes and that has continued into adulthood. Our children will be able to choose their beliefs, but we do not openly practice any one religion in our home.  

I wish people would let us working moms breathe and trust that we know what is best for our family.  I wish people understood that being a working mom is not a bad thing and wanting to work doesn't mean I love my children less than a woman who wants to stay home.  I wish people spent more time supporting my experiences and struggles and less time judging them. I wish that people could experience the guilt that I feel everyday for 'choosing' a job over my family, maybe then they would understand the true sacrifice.  I wish they could experience the need for a career and a family and how nearly impossible it feels managing through life with both.  Lastly, I hope every parent working or not gets to experience the joy and love in their child's eyes when returning home to them.  There is truly nothing more beautiful that a child happy to see their parents.

Tara W.

My career was pretty important to me as I went through graduate school twice! That also came with a big price tag so income was a big motivating factor for me. I love teaching voice and opera to college students, and I feel that God has placed me in this career for a reason. I had always planned to work, but it was a lot harder than I thought it would be to leave Eli every day.

It's pretty easy to get quality time with him because he still needs help to do many things and is the only child. Meals, play time, bath time, and his chores are supervised.  We are also very routine-oriented so the whole nighttime routine includes books, prayers, and songs.

The most difficult thing about being a working mom is never having enough time to get everything accomplished! Also, the mom guilt is pretty strong some days. On day Eli is not feeling or doing well, it’s particularly challenging.

I work at a Christian University, so I'm fortunate to have a Christ-centered outlet in my day.   As for my own quiet time, I don't have as much time as I used to, and if I'm honest, most mornings I sleep through any time that could be used for devotion. After Eli goes to bed, I have time to relax and focus my time on God. I keep my daily Bible by the bathtub so I can read and soak at the same time. Maybe that’s TMI, but it’s true! haha!

While having a job provides a paycheck, daycare gets a good portion of it. It is not easy to work OR be a SAHM. But being a SAHM is just not for me. I think I'm a better mom because I have time away to still keep my identity as a teacher and professional. When I come home and we all get family time, I appreciate it so much more because I haven't had that all day. Anytime I am home all day with Eli by myself, I am drained and really want some adult conversation.

Holli B.

My husband and I are 2 hard working parents trying to make ends meet for our children. Me working is more of a “need-to” thing. I love teaching and can't imagine doing anything else. So, with that, I choose to make a difference in children’s lives.

It’s important to my girls (and to me) that I see them dance. Whether it is watching a weekly class, a performance, or practicing at home, I am there for them. When we are home, we tend to read, play games, talk about what’s going on in their lives. I try, when time allows, to take them out for 1-on-1 time with me. I feel being the mom of 2 girls they each need their own special time.

Finding time to do all I want is the most challenging part of working outside the home. I am beyond blessed that when there is an activity they have, I can usually attend.  I know I have missed many moments and for those my heart truly aches. Trying to juggle it all is hard. I often have to bring work home and that cuts into my time with them. I hate having to sit by and miss out, but it comes with the territory.

Playing a Christian radio station on my way to and from work, reading sermon notes on my phone during my planning period, or going thru a devotion is how I try to stay Christ-centered. Sadly, my time in His word is little at home. I need to make changes here so my girls see me growing closer to God and to be the example for them as they get older. I am afraid they typically see a hurried mom rushing thru bed time prayers and trying to catch-up at home on house work when we are here.

I wish I didn't feel so judged at times. I work to make a difference and be a light for Christ in my classroom for my students, their families, and my colleagues. I feel called, plain and simple. I love my job, though crazy, and the memories that come with each class. At this time my job is a necessity as well as a choice.

If you were inspired by any of these posts, let the moms know in the comments!  Also, if YOU are a working mom, I think it would really benefit YOU to think through these questions.  Leave your answers in the comments if you feel comfortable so we can ALL be encouraged by your experiences.  

1. Were there any motivating factors for you to be a working mom? Was that always the plan/what you wanted? If not, what was?

2. What are some ways that you are intentional in spending quality time with your kids on a daily basis?

3. What is the most challenging thing about working outside of the home?

4. How do you stay Christ-centered as a working mom? What does your time with the Lord look like?

5. What do you wish other people knew about your experience about working outside the home?

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