I met Fran when she lived with some of my best friends during college. I’ve loved following her parenting adventures over the past couple years, as she hits the perfect balance between hysterical and heartfelt. If you follow Fran on Instagram or read her blog, you know that she talks about parenting, literature, and life with a refreshing wit and candid honesty. I was so happy that she agreed to share today in one of our final posts about working motherhood about the ways that marriage and children can force you to make big career changes. I was raised by an amazing single mother. She was everything to me. She also had to be everything: mother, father, guardian, leader, authority, and friend. In my own stumbling through motherhood for only three years so far I have to continually remind myself that I’m not meant to be everything and also – how did she do this alone? Motherhood is the deepest of joys and the greatest of challenges.
I’ve never clamored to hold babies, and I am not overtly maternal. I’ve always wanted children, but being a mother has never been my only dream. In some ways, that has been helpful to me – but on the flip side – on long days of mothering, it is a battle for my mind to remember I am neither my circumstances nor my job.
Before children, I was working as a flight attendant when I met my husband. It was my dream job, it was my coming-of-age story. It was all we had known as we dated, planned a wedding, and became newlyweds. But I knew with each passing month as we built a foundation for our marriage that it didn’t align with the vision we had for the family we hoped to have one day. It was a big and scary (and sad) decision for me initially, but I said goodbye and haven’t looked back.
So we started a new chapter of permanent life on the ground. I got a new job as a digital media manager with a business I loved, and we were excited for what the Lord had in store for us. Very shortly after, I found out I was pregnant on our first anniversary.
During my pregnancy, when we discussed what life would look like once we had our baby, the decision was an easy one for us. It made sense for me to be home – my husband made more money, and we didn’t feel it necessary to pay for daycare when I could be with our daughter instead. Very fortunately, the job I left was one that I was able to do from home. We proceeded confidently and anxiously awaited the tiny human’s arrival.
We had a little girl at the end of a beautiful Spring. She made me maternal, she made me fiercely protective, and she changed my mind forever about babies as I now have absolutely no chill around them. Give me all the babies. (This obsession with babies has only deepened since becoming the parent of a full-blown toddler…but that is an entirely different post 😉 )
When my husband went back to work, our daughter was three weeks old. I laid out a variety of snacks and beverages on our coffee table and we laid together on our couch, sleeping in between episodes of Scandal and Gossip Girl. (I have sophisticated taste in television programs). It was one of my favorite summers of my life. I got to do the same thing two years later as we welcomed our son and we enjoyed my husband’s generous paternity leave and tried to quickly adjust to life with two kids.
Our seasons of life right now are widely dictated by our children, and that’s both okay and to be expected. I have loved the time when I am home with them, nursing round the clock and doing puzzles and pretending I am not the one eating all the goldfish crackers. I also get so excited for the times when work takes me out of the home. I feel vibrant and love being around other adults and being challenged creatively. My husband encourages me in this as he also sees how life-giving it is for me.
I’ve heard so frequently from older women in my life that they see it is particularly challenging to be a mother in this age of information. We have unlimited access to information about everything. Millions of different car seats and strollers. To vaccinate or not. To stay home or to keep working. How they should be carried, how they should be sleeping. It’s exhausting, and I have to remember that everything is not in my control. I am not going to do everything well. Whenever I hear things about “balance,” all I can think is that it should really just be “there’s a mess somewhere.” One day you’re killing it as a mom and behind in your workload. One day your inbox is empty but the house is a mess and your meal-planning extends only to Wendy’s.
We do best to hold all of our plans, rhythms, and dreams loosely. We get the baby on a schedule, and we’re a well-oiled machine for a couple of weeks before there are new teeth poking through tender gums and everyone is tired again.
Parenthood is hard, and we don’t know what we’re doing, and we’re all trying to make the best decisions we can. It’s a wild ride and I’m glad it takes a village. The village is varied and full of different life circumstances, and we could all use some cheering on as we nurture the souls of the next generation to know they are deeply loved and capable of great things.
“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore it is to be done gladly if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other. God looks for faithfulness.” – Elisabeth Elliot