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On Being a Working Mom

This is all new to me.  I know billions of women do it every day, but the last time I worked full-time was over ten years ago, before I had kids.

As any mom knows, raising children is work.  So I'm not implying that I spent the last ten years doing my nails and watching TV (unless you count Dora).  And along with the kids, there was a lot of ministry in there too.  But I figured I would eventually be able to work away from home when my youngest was in kindergarten.  I thought I would ease into it.  Over a year ago, I told the HOPAC director that I wanted to come back on staff this year, but only part-time.

Ha.  Elementary school principal is not a part-time job.  I knew that, of course, but so much for easing my way back into the work force.  More like being hit with a Mack Truck.  And that Mom job I was already doing?  Didn't go away.

I leave the house at 7 and often don't get home until 5.  Wow, that was a really busy day, I tell Gil.  Now he's started laughing at me:  You say that every day!

But it's been okay.  It's been okay because my kids and I are all at the same place and living the same life together.  I am often visiting their classrooms and hugging them in the hall and talking to their friends.  It's been okay because I have a supportive husband who has been willing to do more, and he's at school almost every afternoon coaching our kids' teams.  And it's been okay because I have Esta who does my laundry and mops the floors and cuts up the pineapple.

We're still eating dinner together every night.  Gil and I are still reading to the kids before bed.  The homework is getting done, even the "Build-a-Desert-Home" project.  The boys got their birthday parties and I've made it to almost every soccer game.  We still laugh a lot. 

Of course, there is a cost.  My meals aren't as diverse as they used to be.  I gave up making kefir every day (no one really liked it anyway).  The house is more cluttered.  I don't have nearly the same amount of time to read or to write.  I scan headlines instead of poring over news articles.  My mind is instead filled with how to write an IEP and whether everyone knows the lock-down procedures and how we can get all the kids to learn their math facts.  And the most significant change?  We haven't had anyone over for dinner in months.  It used to be almost weekly.

I miss those things.  Sometimes, I miss them a lot.  I love cooking and hosting and writing and those things are all shoved to the side right now.

The reality is, I can't do everything.  And I am struggling with that balance.  Last year, when I was at home with Johnny and doing plenty of writing and baking, I was also extremely restless.  I know that restlessness alone does not necessitate a change--there were many years when I was restless at home with small children--but I knew the time wasn't right, so I fought for contentment.  But with this job opportunity, everything lined up.

And I love my job.  It's challenging but stimulating and I love how it's stretching me.  It's significant and meaningful and God-exalting, and Gil and I felt strongly--and we still do--that this was the right time for it.

So now I ask myself:  Are my children emotionally and physically healthy?  Are we nurturing them spiritually?  Are we a tight-knit family that enjoys being together?  Is my relationship with my husband strong?  Is my husband okay with how I'm spending my time?  Am I glorifying God with my time and my gifts?

As long as those things are okay, then I need to be okay with letting other things go.  We're still adjusting--and I sure hope that as I continue to learn this new job, I won't be quite so busy, but even then, I'm just really thankful.  It's pretty amazing being a working mom.

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