Motherhood and Finding Your Calling

The following is a very Christiany post. I won’t apologize for it.

 

We had a really great adult Sunday School last weekend on work and finding your calling. It reminded me of how much I love my job, how difficult yet how rewarding motherhood is, and that all work can glorify God just by doing it well.

Martin Luther (of 95 Thesis fame) was once approached by a Christian who asked how he could glorify God. Luther asked the man’s profession, and when he replied that he was a cobbler, Luther told him to make a good pair of shoes and sell it at a fair price.

Our pastor told that story, and reminded us that God is providentially answering prayers through our work. God uses means. He gave humans intelligence and wisdom to figure out chemotherapy, and He uses that to eradicate cancer every day. When we pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread,” it doesn’t show up like manna like it did for the Israelites, it comes from the baker.

That doesn’t mean that God’s not a part of it.

As humans, we’re meant to work. God created the Heavens and the Earth, and then he created Man to work it. We’re meant to take satisfaction in work well done. Personally, I’ve always related to the connection as an image-bearer and the oft-repeated phrase in the beginning of Genesis, “And God saw that it was good.”

Creating the Heavens and Earth is hard work, man! Our Father took satisfaction in a job well done, and dang it, I do too, while simultaneously remembering that it is only through Him that I accomplish anything at all.

After establishing that work is good and glorifying to God, our pastor went into the whole ‘how do you know?’ aspect of things. First things first – pray for wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Then we have to use those brains that God gave us and answer some questions:

  1. What interests you, and what are you willing to invest to obtain the skills needed for that particular vocation?
  2. What are you good it? Is this a realistic choice?
  3. How will this benefit your neighbor/fellow man?

As the pastor was going over these questions, I couldn’t help but think about the post about motherhood and Ann Romney I recently wrote. None of those questions had anything to do with money. Just because full time at-home moms don’t earn a paycheck doesn’t mean they don’t work. They work their hineys off.

I will address the money issue enough to say that earning a paycheck does benefit your neighbor. Earning a paycheck means that you are not relying on the charity of others. A couple that decides together for one parent to stay home and manage things that they would otherwise pay someone else to do (housework, childcare, etc.) is still glorifying God with their work even though only one of them officially earns a paycheck.

Every single person that does their job well and doesn’t try to cheat people is glorifying God. Moms, dads, surgeons, baristas, accountants, actors, plumbers, and any profession in between … Do your job well to serve your neighbor. It’s hard to come by that daily bread without the farmer to grow the wheat, the miller to grind it, the baker to bake it, the electrician to fix the baker’s ovens, the truck drivers to ship the loaves to the stores, the grocers to sell it …

Work matters. There is no such thing as a demeaning job, because any job that serves our neighbor is useful and should be done well and treated with respect. God says so, and it’s kinda hard to argue with that guy.

Confession: I Couldn’t Hack It as a Stay-at-Home-Mom

I love my girls. I also love my career. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

The following was written in response to Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen’s asinine comment toward Ann Romney that as a stay-at-home-mother of five sons, she hadn’t worked a day in her life.

I tried the fulltime at-home-parent thing. I really did. I stayed home fulltime with Thing 1 for 16 months before going to work in an office. A couple years later, I got pregnant with Thing 2, and I took a couple years off again before tiptoeing back into the workforce, this time as a work-from-home freelance writer. Since then, I’ve added social media promotion, consulting, and speaking to my resume.

I love my job. I love it.

I couldn’t hack it as a stay-at-home-mom. Being a full time mommy is the most sacrificial choice any woman could make for her children. It is messy and gross. It is demanding, while also somehow managing to be tedious, and a lot of the time — boring. It is constant, and it is thankless.

No one says, “Wow! Great job shining that stove, I could really relate to it!” They say, “I’m hungry, when’s dinner?” followed quickly by, “Ewwwww, I don’t like that!”

You don’t get raises, credit, or promotions. You get teenagers.

I hold in awe moms who make the decision to work fulltime – for free – as homemakers. I tried and I couldn’t do it. It is, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the fact that some women do it, and do it with grace and patience and kindness, blows my mind. It is a level of self-sacrifice that made me miserable. I couldn’t hack it. It was too hard to do the thankless work, day in and day out. I am just not that good a person inside.

Now that that confession of selfishness is out of the way, let’s get rid of this ridiculous notion that domestic engineers can’t know what it’s like to live in the ‘real world.’ Nothing is more real than managing a home and raising a family.

Moms are Politicians: Have you ever settled 17 squabbles among your subordinates without being able to fire any of them? You can’t list your kids on Craig’s List, you know. Also? Holidays. In-laws. Parent-teacher conferences. The end.

Moms are Accountants: The payer of the bills, the keeper of the allowances, the supreme budgeter and coupon-clipper. She balances the checkbook and makes the hard decision not to deal in subprime loans, no matter how much her tweeny-bopper daughter pouts with her sad little lips.

Moms are Crisis Managers: Oh, you have to be to school early today for a math tutoring session I forgot about and you’re still sitting at the table eating breakfast in your pajamas? GET IN THE CAR NOW, HERE ARE YOUR CLOTHES, GET DRESSED ON THE WAY! Done.

Moms are Counselors: We help our kids figure out how to make good decisions. We cheer them on. We help them learn from their mistakes.

Moms are teachers, nurses, chauffeurs, chefs, maids, receptionists, stylists, negotiators, travel agents, and let’s face it: magicians. They are on 24/7/365. The thanks they get for this is women that couldn’t make the professional, personal, and financial sacrifices necessary to be fulltime stay-at-home-moms going on CNN and telling them they don’t know what it’s like to work.

Stay-at-home-moms know more about what it means to work than a lot of CEOs. They deserve respect, not derision. Every mom has to make her own decision about what profession to pursue, but no one should assume that she that chooses her children over a salary or personal professional gain is worth less than anyone else.

Christ said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Most moms I know would lay down their physical life for their children in a heartbeat. Moms that give up personal ambitions in the workforce to care for their children fulltime deserve a special kind of accolade.

The Finish Line

Thing 2 & Jenny Xmas 2009

My favorite picture of Thing 2 and me, taken Christmas 2009 by Kristen Bons

Thing 2 starts preschool on Monday. After 3 ½ years of her glued to my hip on an almost daily basis, I’ve been asked a lot how I feel about this.

Right now I feel like I feel when I’m running, and just trying to make it to a certain predetermined goal before I stop or slow down. I can see my finish line. I usually feel like I’m going to throw up, because I usually push myself too far. I mute my ipod because the music becomes a distraction rather than a motivation. All efforts are put toward moving forward, each step, not stopping, knowing that once I make it, I will be better for it. Stronger. Able to go further or faster the next time.

That’s what I feel like right now. All I can see is the finish line. This race that I have been running for the last three years of trying to be a decent wife, mommy, and homemaker while simultaneously trying to launch a career in online political punditry, with no nanny or daycare.

I wouldn’t trade it, but most days there just aren’t enough hours. It is completely frustrating in one moment, and ultimately joyful in the next. Thank God for a cute husband that doesn’t mind if the laundry doesn’t all get put away, or stopping to pick up dinner on his way home.

Also thank God for Coke Zero, Advil, Clear Eyes, and sauvignon blanc.

And of course, these amazing little girls, who can drive me up the wall but also knock me over with laughter. This morning, I asked Thing 2 where Jesus lived, and she happily told me, “Um, in da Bible!” How cute and sweet is that?

A year or two ago, I took the girls dress shopping with me, and in the fitting room, Thing 1 told me I looked ready for the ball in a blue taffeta dress I was trying on. I bought it and every time I wear it, I feel ready for the ball.

I have a thousand memories like these; they are the moments that have made this achy tiredness worth it. Because right now? Right now I’m tired. I am ready to have some time to do my work with a small amount of peace.

My finish line is 16 whole hours a week to work without my eye twitching from being interrupted 27 times a minute with requests for snacks, announcements of bodily functions, demands for TV and/or junk food and the subsequent tantrums that occur when the answer is no.

I bet you I’ll be able to pack the majority of the 30 or so hours a week I work now into that time.

So on Monday, I will cross the line with a goodbye wave and a kiss to my baby, and I will clutch my side and catch my breath and feel the rush of accomplishment wash over me. I will thank God for my health and (relative) sanity, and I will sit and ponder what goal I shall set for myself next.

Because as hard as that last stretch always is … I do love to cross the finish line.

I Don’t Know Why Bad Things Happen: A Tornado Post

I just got off the phone with a friend discussing the horrific tornado that blew through Joplin, MO Sunday night. It only took minutes to flatten a six-mile stretch of land, destroying homes, businesses, a high school, and human beings.

The tornado also destroyed a patient wing of the St. John’s Regional Medical Center. Survivors are being transferred to other area hospitals.

Kelley Fritz, 45, of Joplin, rummaged through the remains of a storage building with her husband, Jimmy. They quickly realized they would never find the belongings they stored there. They had lost much of what was in their home after the tornado ripped away the roof. Their sons, ages 20 and 17, both Eagle Scouts, went outside after the storm.

“My sons had deceased children in their arms when they came back,” Fritz said. “My husband and I went out and saw two or three dead bodies on the ground.”

After learning of so much death and destruction, my friend asked me, “Why does this happen? I know everything happens for a reason, but I can’t understand how this is part of God’s plan.”

I don’t know why bad things happen.

I do know that God doesn’t exist to make our lives worry and hassle-free. He doesn’t exist to make us happy (whatever that means), keep us healthy, give us money, or prevent us from suffering.

God exists simply because He does. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the creator of all things. We exist because God created us.

When Job cried out to God asking him why, God gives him this answer:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.Who determined its measurements—surely you know!

Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Roughly translated: “Who are you to question my motives?”

When tragedy strikes, when loved ones are lost and innocence is shattered, our hearts break and we silently (or loudly) scream, “WHY?

Asking why is fruitless, because our limited knowledge of God’s universe can’t begin to comprehend His reasons. God did not let this happen or make this happen in the way that we think of things happening. Just as God does not exist to make us happy, He doesn’t exist to torment us either.

Disasters happen. Life on Earth ends. This life is a blink, and right now at this very second, God knows exactly when and how your time here will end. That doesn’t make Him mean or vengeful; it just makes Him God.

We can’t possibly understand the plans God has for us. Why would He strike a little girl blind and deaf? Because He knew how many lives Helen Keller would touch (get it? Sorry, couldn’t help myself). Why would He allow a boy’s brothers to sell him into slavery? Because without Joseph in Egypt, God’s promise to Abraham couldn’t be fulfilled, as his descendants would’ve starved to death.

He knows what He’s doing, even if we don’t. I don’t know why bad things happen, but I trust that the Lord has a plan, that he will bring triumph from tragedy, and that ultimately, I know that no matter what happens on this planet, He holds me in His hand, because I am His.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t cry or rage with grief.

I am only human.