Maybe it’s time to ditch mommy guilt.
Do you remember that Time magazine article that focused on a style of parenting called “attachment parenting?” The article asked the question “Are you mom enough?” which is a direct attack on us moms working outside of our homes. It puts us on the defensive and makes us question whether we are (or will be) inadequate as mothers. It represents a combative and judgmental attitude all too common in discussions about the “big questions” of motherhood.
Mothers that are juggling professional life AND family time and responsibilities are berated with unnecessary guilt, because it appears we are choosing work over our children. Let’s face it. Sometimes we are a few minutes late to a parent-teacher conference, because a last-minute meeting at work went overtime. And quite often, we send store-bought cupcakes instead of a homemade masterpiece, because we simply could not squeeze in baking time between conference call prep and doctor’s appointments. When we signed up via the Signup Genius, we had the best of intentions of pulling off some fabulous recipe we saw on Pinterest while we were at a stop light … but the clock ran out.
These situations inevitably leave us working mothers feeling less than adequate, especially when we are frowned upon by mothers that choose not to work outside of the home. We are not choosing work over our children, we are doing the best we can … using the giftedness with which God blessed us from the womb. Not everyone’s Ephesians 2:10 calling is the same, so we should never presume to know what other moms are facing. Just be there for them.
Whether God has provided you the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom or has set you on the path of working mother, you should NEVER feel inadequate in your position. You are where you are for a reason and rather than focus on the negative aspects of your current parenting situation, choose instead to embrace where you are in life and claim these three truths about being a parent.
Truth #1: You are uniquely gifted. God has given each of us special gifts and called us to use those gifts to serve Him (Romans 12:4-8). When I first became a mom, I prayed over these verses a lot. Even though I loved motherhood, I felt directed to continue to use my gifts in the business world. Of course, I put them to use in parenting too! Problem-solving, negotiation skills, and even the occasional excel spreadsheet all came into play in my child-rearing experience. Spend some time and effort discerning what your unique gifts are. Pray, think critically, talk to friends and family. The better you understand your gifts, the better you’ll be able to discern God’s plan for you. All of us at 4word highly recommend the book Strength Finders 2.0 to support you in this step.
Truth #2: God answers prayer, whether you like it or not. Sometimes when I’m praying over a big decision, I find myself imagining God swooping in and presenting the “perfect” step-by-step solution. In my imagination, God’s solution always seems to satisfy all of my (sometimes conflicting) desires for the situation. And it’s true that sometimes God does answer a prayer by opening a new path to you. But He also answers prayer by closing, or simply not-opening them. If you feel like you have “no options,” and you’re still praying to God for guidance, it might be time to recognize that a lack of options is guidance. Accept where God has placed you for this season, and trust that He hears your prayers and has a plan for your benefit (Jeremiah 29:11).
Truth #3: God prepared you for this situation. God knows you, and He has prepared you for whatever your path may be (1 Corinthians 10:13). All mothers are “working mothers” in one form or another. And whether your work is in the home, from the home, or outside of the home, you will at times feel overwhelmed. Know that even when you feel lost, God equipped you perfectly to face everything that life can throw at you.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom who is struggling to transition from your former life in the corporate world, know that you have stepped away from an office leadership into an even more important role of leading your children. Be as tenacious in this position as you would have been in the office. Use your new perspective as a mother with experience in the professional world and use these combined backgrounds to recognize the juggling act working mothers must combat every day. Be an encouraging and supportive voice in their ears, not a judging frown when they come running into the recital ten minutes late.
If you are a working mother, I know the daily struggle you face. You have both feet in two drastically different worlds, and you constantly battle feeling adequate in both. As I mentioned before, God has prepared you for this. He knows what you need to get through every day, and He will not put you in any situation that you will not be able to see through to the end. So when you rush into the grocery store ten minutes before it closes to get those cupcakes, instead of the homemade ones from Pinterest, do not feel defeated. If your child is happy, healthy, and loved, it really doesn’t matter what dessert shows up with them at school. Your love and desire to provide for them will overshadow ANY superficial parenting standard unfairly placed over you.
If you are at the stage in your life and career where you are deciding which parenting style you will adopt, consider the information shared here and prayerfully consider which path you should follow. Be open and willing to follow where you are led, and know that whichever direction you head in, you are good enough, you are supported, and you must focus on being an encouraging voice to your fellow mothers.
We are all in this together. Grace, love, and support are what we need in abundance.
What parenting path have you chosen? What are some struggles you face because of your path?
Looking for more executive wisdom from business expert Diane Paddison? You might also enjoy Ahhh, You’re Wearing That?
Diane Paddison has held several executive positions for corporations, including Chief Operating Officer for two Fortune 500 companies, Trammell Crow (now CB Richard Ellis) and ProLogis. She is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at the commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley, and the founder of 4WordWomen, a national nonprofit designed to connect, lead and support young professional Christian women to fulfill their God-given potential.