I met my friend, Sarah, about seven years ago, when we were volunteering at an inner city clothes closet. She has three children, and they were all serving with her. I could tell immediately that she was that mom. You know that mom – the mom who carries a backpack with healthy, organic snacks for her children, the one who doesn’t raise her voice, she cleans with chemical-free cleaning supplies, and her children don’t watch much television. Through the years we became close friends, and I began to truly admire her as a friend and mom. She is such a pillar of strength and dignity for her children. She homeschools and cooks two to three meals on most days. She stays at home and reads to her children, goes on nature hikes, and organizes Bible studies.
As we spent time together, I fell into a dangerous trap of comparison. You see, I am not anything like her. I work 40-50 hours during a good week. We do take-out more than we should. My career has taken me away from my children on some nights, when traveling. And I could never homeschool. Occasionally, I even raise my voice to my children simply from sheer exhaustion. I began to wonder if my children were worse-off than hers, because of my choice to work. I’ve never stayed at home with my kids. When I gave birth to my son, I was a single mom and went to work 10 days after he was born. When I had my first daughter, again, I was a single mom, and went to work 2 days after she was born. I had no choice. My children were depending on me, and if I didn’t work, my kids didn’t eat. Through the years of single parenting, I worked long hours during the day, went to college at night, and often didn’t see my children until they were nearing bedtime. I carried an extreme amount of guilt.
When I gave birth to my last child, I stayed home with her almost a year. I was no longer a single mom, and I thoroughly enjoyed that luxury of seeing all her “firsts”, holding her as I quietly sipped coffee and read my Bible, and strolling through my neighborhood on long walks. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. However, during that time, I discovered something about myself. I could never do that for eighteen years! I enjoy the interaction and stimulation that work outside the home gives. I enjoy the challenge of solving problems at my desk, lunches with co-workers, and business meetings with steno pads and manila folders. I greatly admire my friend, Sarah, and the many women who are just like her with their unbelievable ability to homeschool and sew and craft and whisper and raise amazing children. But I’ve also learned to equally respect my role on this earth. And guess what? I have some pretty amazing children, too. My son is almost twenty, entering his sophomore year of college, and is a collegiate athlete. My daughter, now 18, is a graduating high school honor student who is enrolled in college to become a physical therapist. My sweet last-born is thriving, friendly, and a joy in her own right. And Sarah could say similar things about her children.
Working moms, you are okay. You are great moms who endure long days and parenting challenges, just like stay-at-home moms. You are not less than or greater than. You are equal to. For stay-at-home moms who are doing it all – cooking, cleaning, groceries, organizing – understand that you are in this season for a reason, and it’s beautiful and admirable. But working moms, just because you aren’t in the home full-time doesn’t mean your children can’t thrive and that you are somehow a less-than mom.
Ladies, can we just give each other (and ourselves) a break and a little grace?! Many stay-at-home moms sometimes feel their role is not significant, no one notices them, and they aren’t making much of an impact on the world. Working moms struggle in a different way. We sometimes worry that we haven’t spent enough time with our children, or we carry guilt that we choose to (or have to) work outside the home. Satan is masterful at roaming the earth and seeking what he may destroy. Moms, he wants you to feel this way. He wants you to feel insignificant, insecure, and replaceable. If you do, then you are no threat in the Kingdom. You’re too busy focusing on your inadequacies.
But moms, oh sweet moms, when you rise up and take your place in the Kingdom, whether working mom or stay-at-home, when you understand that your place, in this moment, this season, is God’s perfect plan for your life and it is significant ministry… oh my Lord! When you rise up and become the confident, spirit-filled, strong, hopeful woman of God you were created to be, no demon in hell and no lie from Satan could ever stand in your way of fulfilling God’s plans for your life.
And I am convinced that our children, when raised up in the way they should go, whther by an amazing stay-at-home mom or a working mom, will fulfill the following verse:
Her children stand and bless her.. Proverbs 31:28a NLT
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who has a passion to see the body of Christ live life in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. She has been featured in hundreds of media venues. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.
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** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com.