Sunday, April 6, 2014

Righteousness Misplaced

Sheesh, it's been the better part of a month since I posted.

That, my friends, is the last few weeks in a nutshell.  Whoosh.  That vision at the end of Toy Story with Woody hanging onto that moving truck for dear life, cheeks and eyelids flapping in the air is accurate.  Our home trainer told a very overwhelmed me at our first meting after I started working that transitioning from a stay at home mom to a working mom is a full time job in itself.

She's right.

There's not much different at home, except that I'm not here as much.  The transition has gone as smoothly as I could have hoped for, with the exception of a few glitches here and there.  But even the glitches have smoothed with the give and take of teamwork.  In all that figuring out and hashing through and working to make sure we have all our bases covered I've learned something really important.  It's a game-changer, folks.  It settles that whole working versus stay at home mom thing once and for all.

Ready?  Hold on to your hat.  It's earth-shattering, I tell you.  Earth-shattering!

There is no one-size-fits-all for how to mother, father, parent, run your household, or any of the above.  You say you're at home for good?  Great! Stayed home the six weeks allotted and then went back to work?  Great! So you homeschool?  Fabulous!  Put your child on a yellow bus every morning to the public school in your area?  Wonderful!  You cloth diaper?  Neat!  Can't stand the idea and love your Pampers?  Cool!

You know, there's a lot of guilt on either side of the mommy debates.  Whether it's food or discipline or schooling or clothing or TV watching or electronics usage, there are endless blogs, magazine articles, books, studies, and even seminars that will attempt to sell you on their idea.  Actually, I guess I fit into one of those categories, too.  Hmm.

But really, I'm no expert.  I'm no expert on any of these angles.  The only experience I have, other than listening when friends talk, is my own.  And I really can't make decisions based on what friends experience.  So maybe... just maybe... I should only decide what's right for me based on our needs.

Novel idea to some.

We started our family with an agreement that I'd be home.  Period.  We decided that based on a few things.  The first, and my husband's largest point, was that he wanted to give his kids what his parents gave him.  And since he and his sister both turned out pretty great, and there wasn't much nuclear family stuff I wanted to copy from my experience, it was easy to sign on to stay home.

Let me make this clear.  I am NOT sorry I stayed home.  Not for one minute.  I'm grateful for the years I had to be home with my kids.  But once my daughter was born, I got nervous.  Through that experience it was made unmistakably clear that we were through having kids.  My body didn't need to try that again.  Just wasn't up for it.  So I started to be nervous that the kids wouldn't need me and I'd have to go back to work.

From my perspective, I saw the shortcomings I had as a mom at home full time and added them to what I knew it took to do my job, and decided that there was no way that would ever work.  I can't keep my house clean when I'm home full time.  What's going to happen when I try to add work?  And then there was Ryan and his needs.  He's used to my being home.  He can depend on mommy to be here.  What will happen when I go back to work?  Who will drive him to therapy?

Silly mommy.  You can't work.  Surely that wouldn't be in God's plans for you.  He can see what you're up against and he wouldn't allow that.  And the stress I was under being in charge of everyone's care, including meals, cleaning, laundry, etc. told me that there was no way I could handle a job plus all that.  Just the nature of my profession alone would not lend itself to our family.  Band in small town Texas means you're out Monday all day between the work day and marching rehearsal, and then there are Fridays.  Friday night lights were optional as a stay-at-homer, but they'd be required as a band director.  And so many Saturdays in October for marching contest.

There was no way I'd be able to do that to our family.  All those things coupled with even more there's just not room to list made it look like the most pragmatic choice for my employment was to be right here.  Oh, and then there's the fear that I would have forgotten how to do it.

Before I knew it, the same mom who was happy to stay home became resigned to staying home.  Then resignation turned to sadness.  The fire in my heart for band fanned again, I found myself telling my husband through heaving sobs that the idea of never teaching band again felt like a death sentence.

But why was it so hard to admit?  Why all the tears?

Misplaced righteousness.

To be a good person, I told myself, to be a worthy Christian Mom, I had to stay home.  Never mind that I knew and loved moms who worked their tails off and were awesome moms.  I would never have told them that they had to stay home, because I really believed they were rocking life just the way they were.   I could blame it on money, but that would be a lie. God always provided for us.  Yes, money got squeaky sometimes but we always had what we needed plus some.

The hard truth was that I wanted to work.  I missed work. I loved what I did.  I'm one of those folks who knew what they wanted to do from age 10.  Went into college, declared my major, and barreled through.  I tried telling myself to just let it go and enjoy band as an observer.  I tried dreaming of other jobs that would be more acceptable to the big-brother Christian culture that tells women that their worth should always come from their clean homes and well-behaved children.

Let's get this out there once and for all.  THAT IS NOT TRUE.  Very few of us actually believe that.  Yes, we'll go to parenting classes and smile and nod and amen, then turn around and leave feeling guilty that we don't live up.  Honestly, maybe even hoping no one finds out how far short we fall.  That we feed our kids chicken nuggets and ice cream and candy and let them watch TV.

I bought into this more than I realized.  With this expectation hanging over my head, staying home became more and more of a martyrdom.  I'd look through blogs on this and that, usually trying to find something that would make me passionate about cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry or to try again to convince myself that I could be like all those cool moms and homeschool my kids.  I could do it!

And yes, I could.  I could do a lot of things.  But as I kept trudging along, it became more and more apparent that God gave me a passion for band.  Those little heart reminders that I loved it and it was so fun... and I could do it again... became catalysts for my looking back at God saying, "Silly Father.  I can't do that.  You said it was my place to be home forever!  See me doing the right thing?  See?"

Then I began to realize that maybe it wasn't God who said that, but cultural, big-brother Christianity.

As I sat in that CE class at church, I realized that I was adding to Jesus' gift of my salvation.  Staying home, something that began as a real gift to my family, had become something I felt I had to do to be okay.  To be acceptable.  To save myself from judgement.

Ouch.

We don't need to add anything to Christ's gift.  No, scratch that.  We CANNOT add anything to Christ's gift of salvation.  All we can do is live in the comfort and wonder of its peace and security.

Staying home for my children is a gift I will always be grateful for being able to give.  And now that I'm back at work, I can see that it was time.  There are still things I feel guilty about.  I wanted to want to be home forever.  And I still hear the words of a few blogs that underhandedly shamed moms who want to work ringing in my ears now and again.  Why would I need more to life than my kids?  I really don't know.  But the same God who knit me together in my mother's womb, who knows the hairs on my head, and stores my tears... that same God knows why he gave me such a desire to teach and made it possible.   And he also knows why I'm a better mom for going ahead and going back when I needed to.

Largely, it's been great.  Sometimes it's not easy, but it's better.  And it's better not because working is better... it's better because it's what I was supposed to do.

Thanks be to God for showing me it was time... and for all those who were encouraging and helpful in so many ways (I'm looking at you, RPC bible study ladies who gave me meals to help with my first little bit of work, and my dear BFF the FCCLA teacher and working mommy extraordinaire... not to mention the GISD band staff/family for giving me band hall time all those years!) and for my amazing husband, my Mom, and J for picking up everything I've had to lay aside for this semester.



2 comments:

  1. Well said! There is a great book on this topic I read around the time I decided to work part time. It's called "The Myth of the Perfect Mother" and I highly recommend it!

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  2. The Sensory Spectrum is hosting a special blog hop of posts from bloggers in June and we'd love to have you participate! Just imagine a list of bloggers sharing their stories about what it’s like to have sensory kiddos! Read more here: http://www.thesensoryspectrum.com/sensory-bloggers-blog-hop-information/

    Joining in on this blog hop will undoubtedly get your blog more exposure as people will hop from one blog to the next to read the stories. I will also be tweeting everyone's stories during the month and highlighting some on my Facebook page.

    I hope you'll join us!
    Jennifer @ The Sensory Spectrum
    (and you can find me @ The Jenny Evolution, too!)

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