I had a phenomenal weekend. It was a weekend I had been excited about/dreading for months. After making excuses basically whenever I’ve been asked to speak to strangers (I do a fair bit of speaking to our local community), I finally said yes to a speaking invite and felt the weight of it from the moment I agreed to it until it was finally done. I wanted to leave these women feeling encouraged and empowered. I wanted them to feel seen and cared for.
I spoke from my heart.
And it went well. Praise God.
After a 40 minute drive back to my family, I returned a conquering hero. . . at least in my own mind. I was relieved that it was over and proud of how my hard work had turned out. But my family? None of that mattered to them.
They were happy to have me home and I was immediately thrown back into the chaos and joy of raising six kids. They were not interested in how it had gone, they didn’t care about how many women appreciated it and they didn’t even give me a minute to get out of my fancy pants before they started asking me to help them unwrap their snacks. It was kind of a rough reentry.
I almost believed my own hype. I almost forgot what it is that gives me a platform to speak. I almost felt resentful of the people who are the whole point of what I do.
This morning I spoke at a fundraising event for our foster care agency. I spent the morning emceeing a 200 person breakfast meeting and then went immediately home to clean-up the spilled cereal and dirty dishes of the breakfast “event” my husband emceed for our six kids that morning too. (BLESS MY HUSBAND)
I love my life, but sometimes that whiplash is a little much. There are people in my world that primarily know me as a speaker or writer and then people in my world who primarily know me as a mom and don’t know I even have a job outside the home. Balancing those roles in ways that are healthy for my kids and healthy for me can be tough. But I’m thankful for it.
It’s a joy to be the one my kids need. I have an incredibly important role in their life that can’t be outsourced or delegated. It doesn’t matter how “successful” I feel about the professional aspects of my life, my kids aren’t impressed. They ARE impressed by my meatloaf. They love me in my pajama pants and would rather have me snuggled with them on the couch than out making a name for our family.
This is the beauty and frustration of being a working parent. It’s amazing to be loved and valued for the things that no one else cares about, like your ability to make funny voices when reading out loud. It’s also difficult to have to invest yourself in work when it takes from your family. It’s fantastic to use all the skills on your resume to provide for your family. It’s also difficult to parent cranky kids who are frustrated that you’re leaving them for one more meeting.
Some day I hope my kids are proud of me. Some day I hope they value the work I’ve been doing all these years on behalf of kids like them and families like ours. I hope it matters to them. But I also recognize that that will never be the version of me they remember. They didn’t ask for a mom who was trying to climb some invisible corporate ladder. They just need me to be present, to be faithful, to be warm and nurturing.
I have found that I function best when I’m resting in the tension between these roles. It’s a joy to be living my calling with a foot in both worlds. My work allows me to speak into the world outside my home. My kids remind me that I’m not too good for puzzles and play-dough. The “work from home” life is the best and worst of both worlds as I impossibly strive to work like I don’t have kids and parent like I don’t have a job. It’s exhausting and it also fuels me daily to do the best I can with the hours I have.
Heaven help me the day my kids are grown and gone and maybe I’m working a job in an office. I don’t know what kind of woman I’ll be when the day comes that no one needs me to zip their jacket. I’m afraid I’ll take my lunch break to wander through the grocery store—the crazy lady who strikes up conversations with toddlers. Even at this morning’s fundraising event, I sat next to a six-year-old and we chatted about the intricacies of first grade social dynamics (I now know who the tallest kid is in his class, because obviously). Even when I TRY to focus on a work function, I find myself drawn to the kids. The more I consider that coming reality of working myself out of a “job” in my home, the more I realize my kids are not an obstacle to me achieving work success. They are the inspiration, the reward, the fun of this life I’m blessed to live. The hype isn’t who I am. The way I behave in private with the kids God gave me, that’s who I am. May I strive daily to find contentment in this precious, temporary gift.