Thoughts of a Working Mom


Thoughts of a Working Mom

Editor’s note: The following column is pulled from the archives of Heidi’s wonderful blog Extraordinary Moms Network. Enjoy! LMH

Anyone re-entering the workplace after taking time to pursue other goals — college, family, or writing the next Great American Novel — knows that finding the ramp back to the fast track can be a daunting experience.  (For those who live in Michigan, it’s more of a “painfully slow” track, but I digress.)

Coming up with a plausible explanation for any gaps in the resume is one thing; being able to articulate how these non-revenue-producing endeavors have contributed to one’s personal bottom line is something else.

So this past week, I’ve been thinking about my vocation as a wife and mother, and above all as a child of God.  Even the word “vocation” is more complex for me now than it was when I was single.  It is infinitely easier to look “together” and “successful” without a captive audience to witness those less-together moments. As a single adult, I led the worship team and managed sixty projects a year.  As a wife and mother, I sat in the church’s “cry room” and aspired to a shower before dinner.

Here’s the thing:  As time went on, I discovered more than a little overlap in the life lessons I”ve learned between the “two me’s.”  For example:

One day at a time.  Projecting too far into the future based on one’s present circumstances can be problematic for mothers and editors alike.  As a new mother, I had to pull focus from “building a writer’s platform” and concentrate on the immediate challenges at hand (like getting that aforementioned shower).  My kids needed me to be fully present.

Now this lesson takes a very different form: I try not to obsess over the “big picture” of what God has planned for my life. Instead, day by day I take up the challenge at hand, always trying to remain attentive to that still, small voice of the Spirit. A Spirit who often speaks to me through my own family.

Rest in the knowledge that God knows me best, and loves me anyway.  Like most people, I have at times wished that life had a rewind button.  As a mom, I’ve cringed over my children’s boisterous behavior in public. My inner critic howled over the injustice of going from choir director to cry-room dropout in just a few short days.

Now, having come I’m through the worst of it, it’s alot easier to silence that inner critic where other people are concerned. Not that I have a flawless record. Like most people, I’ve said and done things that – in retrospect – were cringeworthy. And yet, my children have taught me something about God’s unconditional love, which helps me to extend tolerance and grace to others.

The Iceberg Principle:  Human beings are like icebergs: There’s a lot more than meets the eye. These “hidden mysteries” inform and motivate both our actions and reactions.  However, with time and effort it is possible to develop an instinctive sense of the “danger zones.”

For example, I can always tell when one of my children “forgets” to take a certain medicine or has had a bad night.  The brother-sister banter is edgier, with shriller howls of protest. Cereal turns to mush as the kid in question makes umpteen trips to and from the breakfast nook. Directions go unheard and unheeded. As the mom, I understand why this kid is acting like a gerbil on crack. It’s not intentional, but aggravating nevertheless.

The Iceberg Principle applies in the workplace as well, motivating us to invest on a personal level with those on our “team.”  If we fail to do this, behavior that a friend might interpret to be  ”collaborative” (or “proactive”), to a casual acquaintence might seem “lazy” (or “egotistical”).  Misunderstandings (or being misunderstood) is an occupational hazard for those who refuse to map out  those hidden layers.

What do you think? Have you made the transition from stay-at-home to either work-from-home or work-away-from-home?  If so . . . are there any aspects of parenting that have made you a more valuable employee?

Copyright 2012 Heidi Hess Saxton


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  1. I returned to the teaching field when my daughter was 4, until my younger son was born 2 years later. Having spent time as a parent, I was a much better teacher. I knew more about age-appropriate expectations for behavior and performance, and I had plenty of discipline strategies in my pocket.

  2. I applaud women for seeking to balance home and work. I applaud women that stay at home to raise their children. I applaud women that work to support their family. I even am glad to see women choose a career over a family even if I personally find that odd. All of these are great things and I encourage women to continue to do these. It is all about being human and a human woman.

    However, what I find distressing, is that anyone (woman or man) can let bronze age mysticism into their decision making process. People need to realize that there is no higher power, no god or no deity helping make the decision or influencing your path. People need to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their situation, actions and decisions. We need to move past these antiquated notions of god and gods to progress as a society. The very notion of a someone over is at best holding us back and at worst causing the major terror and strife in the world.

    We have but one life on this earth. There is nothing after death for us. We have to make the most of the time when we have it. It will change your perspective, it will change what is important, and knowing this will most importantly give you reality, not some fabricated children’s fable that we adults believe because we are too scared to believe the truth: that after death, we are gone.

    • Dear Samantha: I can’t help but wonder, given how passionately you argue against the existence of God, why you would spend time on a site for Catholic women. In reality, it is even more a leap of faith to argue against the existence of God than it is to believe in him . . . and far more of a “down side” (if you’ll pardon my expression) if in the end you prove to have been mistaken.

      You’re taking the long shot on Pascal’s wager, if you will.

      The case for God’s existence has been argued since the beginning of human history . . . by minds far brighter than my own. However, in my experience the vast majority of those who claim to be agnostic or atheist hold to their convictions for reasons that are based not in the intellect, but in the will — a simple unwillingness to submit to the the authority of God. They try to rationalize it, and dress it up in reasonable-sounding arguments . . . but in the end, it boils down to a defect of the heart — a lack of faith.

      Jesus is real. There is more historical evidence for his life than for any other person in antiquity.

      God is real. From the order of the cosmos to the “God shaped hole” in the heart of the human spirit, which is restless until it finds Divine fulfillment, to the common experience of those who reach out for him . . . and find their prayers answered. Rest assured, he is there, and he loves you.

      My prayer for you, Samantha, is that one day you will find the courage to meet him part way. You will never regret it. I know I never have.

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