A Mother's Labor Day Reflection
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Happy Labor Day, y’all! But Happy Labor Day especially to my fellow mamas out here doing the damn thing. I recently went back to work and, y’all. Being a working mom is hard. But, for me, having been a stay-at-home mom for three years, that was a whole different kind of hard.
When I decided to pursue education as my career, it was a twofold decision. For one, I had grown to love working with children in Vacation Bible Schools, daycares, etc. Because I also knew I wanted a family, I wanted time to spend with my future children, and in education was the flexibility to have summers and holidays off. Recently, I processed out loud with my husband how I came to sort that out: “As a young woman in college, I knew, even then, that it was expected of me to be home, more than my future husband. I didn’t think to want more for myself because that’s all I had seen of women around me, in church and in my family. Women stay home and raise the children. That was the truth insofar as I had seen it lived out. So, the more that was expected of me, the more it became what I expected of myself.”
And, as I confessed that to him, I wept. I wept and grieved the things I could’ve been in life, had I been taught, modeled, and showed to reach higher. I wept because, as much as I don’t regret the time I spent home with my son, it was the hardest time of my life. It was a decision made from my love and devotion to him that I would make a thousand times over. And yet, when your child wants and needs so much of you, there’s little you left for anyone else, even yourself. That’s how I constantly felt.
In my moments of stay-at-home-mom loneliness, I tried turning to Christian mothering books, hoping for someone who could make sense of my aching. Instead, religion only made me feel guilty for not loving every moment of motherhood. I would read, longing to feel comforted, but all it did was spiritualize the ache. Suggestions on how to find little moments of quiet time with Jesus and to see Him at work in the changing of dirty diapers and sleep deprivation, fell flat, to say the least. None of it eased my aching.
The ache started to ease when I realized (on my own, no thanks to all the white Christian women telling me otherwise) my highest calling was not to motherhood; it was only one of my many callings. Exploring my other identities—writer, mujer, wife, teacher, friend—was what helped me to start really living again.
Men are never just called to fatherhood. Men are encouraged, educated, molded, and discipled within ministry settings to be many things to many people. I wonder what future generations might look like if we delivered the same message to women: “You are not just called to motherhood. You can and should desire more. God created you for more.” I wonder what future generations might look like if we, altogether, toiled for women’s flourishing, too.
Mama, what does a full life look like for you? If it’s raising littles, be blessed in your endeavor! Child rearing is not for the faint of heart! If it’s anything different than that, I pray you feel encouraged to press into your desires, to seek fullness in all its forms, in Jesus’ name.