I remember early on in our parenting journey my husband looking at me one evening as we both sat exhausted on the couch and saying, “Man, parenting is hard!”
At the time, I sarcastically responded, “Well, did you think it was going to be easy?” but the truth is no matter how much ‘experience’ you have (and believe me, as the oldest of seven kids I thought I had a lot), nothing can truly prepare you for the magnitude of parenthood.
We were just a month away from celebrating our first anniversary when we were blessed with our beautiful firstborn daughter. Elated to become parents, we were also overwhelmed by the awesome responsibility we’d just been handed.
Both of us were full time teachers at the time and both of us had returned to school (I was attending a night class once a week for my alternative certification while my husband was in the process of earning his second masters degree). So needless to say we were stretched thin. Added to that was the fact that being a working mom was much harder for me than I ever imagined it would be. I was blessed to have my mother offer to watch our daughter every day for free while I continued to work. So during my pregnancy I was completely peaceful about our situation and my transition into working motherhood.
But then my perfect, miracle, angel little girl (as I called her over and over again after her birth) was born and everything changed. I’ll never forget dropping her off with my mom when my all too short eight weeks of maternity leave came to an end, sobbing as I left my daughter for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, if anyone other than me was going to be watching my baby I was so thankful it was my own mother. I knew I was so fortunate, when many of my friends were having to make arrangements with daycare or hired help. But still, I hated that someone else would be caring for my daughter for the majority of her waking hours. That someone else would be soothing her cries and watching her first milestones.
I cried many tears over the next year and a half as I fought an onslaught of fear, insecurities, and guilt. Fear of being replaced in that special role of motherhood. Hurt and insecurity during those moments when my daughter would occasionally pull away from me when I came to pick her up after work, or when others seemed to be able to soothe her better than I. Guilt that I was working instead of being home, even though I reminded myself over an over again that this was what was needed for our family. And then, of course, there were the frequent insensitive remarks of acquaintances and strangers, making me feeling even guiltier and more upset over my working status.
Then when we had our son eighteen months later I was immeasurably blessed to begin life as a stay at home. After much prayer and cries of the heart, God had almost miraculously placed three different jobs that I could work from home in my path, allowing me to continue supplementing our income while also remaining home with our children. That added with my husband’s unfailing support and willingness to sacrifice made my dream possible of becoming a stay at home mom.
Looking back, I’m really grateful for my time as a working mom because it reminds me, even on the hardest and longest days at home, how much I wanted this. Because the truth is, there is no perfect scenario; no magic fix that suddenly makes this job easy. It’s a lot of grueling, exhausting hard work. I jokingly told my husband the other day that I am an official butt wiper. I can’t even go to the bathroom most days by myself. And there are days when time seems to crawl so slowly to that magical hour when daddy comes home that I feel I’m going to go insane.
But, lest you read this post and think “Yikes! I’m never having kids!” though it is unquestioningly the most difficult and challenging thing I have ever undertaken, motherhood is so, SO worth it. When those little arms go around my neck and whisper, “I love you, Mamma.” Or when your daughter spontaneously starts talking about Jesus and how much He loves her and you think, “Wow, I’m actually getting through,” those are the moments I live for. That’s what it’s all about.
So to moms, dads, and future parents out there reading this blog, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s freaking hard. It doesn’t matter how you’re doing it–working parent or home caretaker–it’s tough. There are days when you’ll feel like a total failure; days when you’re ready to take a year long sabbatical; days when you question why you wanted a big family in the first place. But if I’ve learned anything in this journey so far (and golly, I’ve still got a lot to learn), it’s that every sacrifice is worth it. You just have to keep giving it your all, and let’s be real, begging for His grace.
I don’t pretend to be an expert, or to have all my stuff together. I make plenty of mistakes and often feel like a complete and total failure. But if you’re like me, toiling in the vineyard as you work to raise healthy and holy children, then maybe this blog will be some comfort or help to you. Here’s to giving it all you’ve got one day at a time.