On the rare days that I decide to waste a bit of time while folding laundry with random TV shows on, I get slightly annoyed when I find yet another talk show debating the ever-impassioned topic of stay-at-home moms vs. working-outside-of-the-home ones.
We’re all working moms, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t even give you the title “mom” if what you do is primarily hang out eating bon-bons while your children run amuck. Sorry. It just doesn’t fit my definition. Thankfully, I don’t actually know anyone who does that, anyway!
That’s not to say that we don’t have our moments when we just need to be…and breathe…
My point is, though, that I don’t feel there’s an answer to what’s right or wrong–not a blanket statement, for sure. God equips us all differently, and I believe that He does call some to use their talents outside of the home even while their children are young. Maybe that means doing some volunteering here and there–tutoring at school, visiting shut-ins…it doesn’t have to involve making money.
When your children are so small and dependent, however, I find it to tricky to balance the ensuing priorities of career and family. I went “back” to teaching this past school year when I received a Call to be a piano instructor. I teach for one full day and two afternoons each weekly cycle. Because the school week is 6-days, I might teach all day on Monday and in the afternoons of Tuesday and Wednesday one week, and then all day on Tuesday and the afternoons of Wednesday and Thursday, the next (and so on). Little One goes to preschool in the morning two days a week, so periodically his time “away” overlaps with my teaching, but it often does not. This has both positives and negatives.
One positive is that I occasionally have that time at home while he is at preschool to get busy and catch up on things (without interruptions). That has been really helpful since I’m trying to get the hang of this not-being-home-all-the-time-anymore aspect. It enables me to focus on him when we are both home, and how I treasure my at-home time with him!!!
Last year I often felt my heart being tugged towards teaching again. This also happened to me when Child #2 had not quite turned two. I didn’t understand it and was frankly annoyed and baffled by it (after all, I had the sweetest two little ones at home–how could I want to lose out on time with them?). I felt the same way last year when this happened. I was confused.
Looking back when it happened during Child #2’s toddlerhood, I see how quickly God showed me why I had been feeling that way. He paved a new path for me to venture out on.
A teacher left the fifth grade classroom at our school a couple weeks before Easter. She wasn’t coming back. The phone rang and the principal asked me to please step into the classroom. I knew the school from having taught there for one year before our oldest was born, and he hoped that I would be willing to serve again.
Marveling at how easy it was to say “yes” because of the framework God had laid, I stepped into that classroom and had an exhilerating time. At the two-week mark I was asked to state whether or not I would complete the school year. After much prayer, I admitted that I could not stay on full-time.
I think I’m so flighty. One second I’m bouncing off the wall on the left, the next second I’m off on the right. I tire myself out–or exasperate myself, anyway.
As much as I was loving being in the classroom, when I got home I fully focused on the kids. I couldn’t help it–I wanted and needed to. I was finding it hard to keep up with my correcting, and I was not going to short-change my students by losing track of their progress. I owed it to them to be honest.
I suggested that if the administration wished to have continuity, they might ask me to remain on part-time. The Lord provided a nearby teacher (a fellow mom) whose strengths were the exact opposite of mine. She taught those classes in the morning and I taught in the afternoon. I fed my kids lunch, kissed them goodbye, they were tucked in for their naps, and I got home after they had barely woken up. Life was still very full, but it was a much more satisfactory situation.
I find myself in much the same situation this year. Though there are so many positives about the way my teaching schedule falls in conjunction with those of the rest of the family, my heart is divided. I truly enjoy my time teaching, appreciate my students, but wouldn’t say that I look forward to my teaching days in the same way that I look forward to my time at home with my Little One (the “big” kids are gone while I am).
The way I look at it is this: God-willing, someday I might have the opportunity to teach again, but I’ll never be able to go back to these moments before Little One goes off to school full-time. What am I willing to sacrifice? What is God calling me to do?
He gave me these children. He entrusted them to me. I could give them every ounce of myself and it still wouldn’t be enough.
Even so, he gave me a love for the classroom, and has provided opportunities for me to grow as a pianist, use my abilities to serve the church, and share all of that with impressionable youngsters, considering the full-time ministry. Some of them will become lay ministers, which is every bit as necessary. I’m grateful for the opportunity to use my abilities and my training to play a part in their’s.
Feeling lost one day, knowing that I’ll soon be asked whether or not I want to come back next year, I cried about my confusion over the phone to my sister. She gently reminded me that it’s hard to decide because I’m choosing between two very good things–which is actually a blessing.
A blessing? Yes…yet another blessing! After all, nothing in life is easy through-and-through.
To be completely honest, I’m not 100% settled on my decision even now. I think I’m close, but I’m not there. I have these moments where I cry out in desperation, “What if God IS calling me to use my abilities to teach right now?” “If the Bible doesn’t speak directly on this topic, how can I ever be sure of what He wants for me?”
Years ago when I was first starting to feel the creeping of that yearning to teach, I had mentioned it to a former colleague, whose children were grown. With tears in her eyes, she told me more or less that she regretted taking the time away from her children to be in a classroom. I’ve heard that from other moms who went into the workforce with young children at home.
Defensively, I argued (to myself) that there’s no way for anyone to be certain that things would have gone the way they envisioned without the career part of it in the picture. Maybe they “needed” to be using those particular abilities to serve–to be the women God was calling them to be. On the other hand, maybe there are ways I can use these same abilities in a different way that doesn’t pull me away from the home as much. My decision certainly shouldn’t be mostly about the money–and it’s not. That’s at the bottom of the totem pole in my list of pro’s and con’s.
All we can really do is turn over our assault of questions to the Lord and trust that in His way He’ll provide an answer. He might not whisper in our ears or send a dream vividly detailing His answer, but He might nudge us there when we look in the eyes of our child…at a colorful sunrise…or listen intently to the words of our spouse. He might allow His words to sink in through one quiet moment (wait–do moms get those???). He will answer–in any way, shape, or form…by any means. When we are regularly “in” the Word, God’s words can be called to mind by any such situation, and more!
Ask, and it will be given to you… “Please, Lord, somehow help me to be certain of how you see fit for me to serve you at this point in life!”