I unlocked the door, disarmed the alarm, flipped on the copy machine, turned down the air conditioner and put my lunch in the fridge. Then I sat down in the leather chair in front of my front office desk and saw that My Verse Of The Day calender is still set to May 2, 2011, right where it was the day I attended work for the last time with a tiny human growing in my belly.
That night, as I left work, I decided I would take a nap before my usual four mile walk, unaware that I'd be in the hospital a few hours later in labor with my sweet baby girl. And now I'm back, twelve weeks and six days later, and everything looks exactly the same.
But it all feels so different.
And I'm not just talking about the fact that I'm thirty five pounds lighter and can once again scoot my chair right up to my enormous L shaped desk without a drawer handle pushing into my growing belly, or the reality that there is now a breast pump setting in the back office waiting for me to manually extract liquid gold once my body realizes that my baby isn't here to do it herself, the way nature intended.
I thought I had it all figured out. Being an extremely social person, I knew that having a baby wouldn't be enough to keep me home, because I require ridiculous amounts of adult conversations and stimuli during the day. In fact, when Scarlett was only a few days old I came in to work just to feel normal again; checking my emails and completing a few minor tasks seemed to shake the baby blues and give me a sense of purpose once again.
But I also knew that because God chose to answer my prayers and bless me with a child, I wanted to be a mother just as much as an employee.
So I made a plan.
Because that's what I do.
The final consensus was that so long as we could afford to do so, I would cut back my five day work week to three days, one of which would include bringing my daughter to work with me while I completed tasks in the back office away from customers. It was an amazing compromise between working to bring much needed income into our family, and being the mother I always wanted to be.
The perfect solution for a socialite multitasker such as myself.
But then, something changed.
Before I begin my new rationalization about a mother's calling and my place in the work world, you must know that I love my job. I get to meet new people every day and help them design the perfect cabinet layouts for their homes, guiding them in color, hardware, and accessory choices, all while basking in the comfort of knowing I work for the family business so if an emergency arises, I'm free to escape if need be.
My husband works out back building cabinets, I get to wear heals and pretty clothes and on my down time I'm free to roam the Internet in search of cloth diaper message boards.
However, along with the joys of being part of a small family business come the dark clouds of reality. The economy is horrible right now, and what used to be a thriving business in custom cabinetry is now a daily struggle of survival in a cutthroat industry. Customers are looking less for a quality product and more for the best deal, and that makes my job difficult and stressful, testing my patients and what's left of my sanity.
Money gets tight, people are mean, employees become grumpy, and no one is ever happy.
Not to mention the fact that my father owns the business, and there is the looming possibility that someday my husband and I may have the chance-or be expected-to purchase the company from him and make it our own, a thought that has clouded the back of my mind for years now, causing me at times to question my choice of profession and contemplate the future.
Because somewhere between four and eight weeks after birthing my own tiny human, my heart started to change.
I tried to fight it at first-blaming it on the hormones and sleep deprivation-but even after Scarlett was successfully sleeping twelve to thirteen hour stretches at night, I could still feel the tug-of-war raging in my mind. And as the battle progressed, I realized that my own convictions of what it means to be a godly mother were far from what they were before my daughter was born, taking a piece of my heart out of my womb with her when she left it.
It all started deep down with the simple truth of what my purpose is. As a born again believer, I've been redeemed-not by my own works, but by God's grace-and therefore will someday spend an eternity in Heaven with my saviour. So it makes the most sense to me that this life I've been given should revolve around praising Him and bringing Him honor and glory, thanking Him for His free gift.
But it's so easy to get caught up in the demands of society today and adapt to the culture that has developed around us over the years. The reality is that having a large home, fancy cars, the highest paying job, the nicest clothes and the most money here on earth doesn't equal happiness, but the world makes it hard to remember that, and my human nature struggles daily with confusing the desire to have what's best, with the the need to have just enough.
It's like Notorious B.I.G. said; more money, more problems.
And we all know you can't take it with you when you go. So everything I do here on earth should be done with the goal of building up riches in Heaven in mind, not here on earth. And in order to glorify God with my life and build up treasures in Heaven while doing so, I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to have to be a servant, just like Jesus was. And by serving others, my husband, my family and my home, I'll show others Jesus' love through my actions.
Before I became the mother of a tiny human, I was given the opportunity to be a servant everyday at my job. I wasn't always the best at it of course, but through my daily duties I was able to meet new people every day and serve them the way Jesus would; showing them love and kindness even when they didn't return the favor. And I was able to take care of our home and my husband in the process.
But then, after many years and countless tears, Scarlett Grace was born.
My job title has changed, and Mother has been added to my resume, softening my heart and making me take an extremely close look at what is important in life so that I can do my best to gently guide my child's heart and lead her to know Jesus.
Kind of an important job.
The way I see it, God's role for a mother is plainly outlined in the bible to nurture and raise the children in the home. He built our bodies to grow them, gave us the ability to multi-task to sustain them, and gave us the heart to love them. And I know that someday I will be held accountable to God for the precious eternal beings that He placed in my care. I am now able to not only be a willing servant for people I meet every day, but also a servant to my sweet Scarlett Grace so I can teach her-through my own actions and examples-to be a servant for others, in turn passing on a legacy and heritage that will last through eternity.
To me, this means I will have to make many sacrifices on the road to being the mother and wife that I believe God wants me to be, and I'm only in the beginning stages of figuring out what exactly this means for my life, because I know it's different for every woman.
As an infertile, I know all too well that not everyone can have babies, and not everyone will marry and have a husband. So I'm not saying that God's plan for every woman is to be a stay at home wife and mother, and not every mother will have the same convictions as the next. I'm sure it's possible to glorify God while working a full time job and mothering children at the same time for some, and I'm certainly not judging anyone who decides to do so, because everyone has differing circumstances.
I don't have all the answers, and I still don't know what God has in store for me. Although my mind has changed and I suddenly feel an intense urge to be fully responsible for raising my daughter while caring for my husband and my home, I'm still bombarded with a part of me that longs to be something better in the worlds eyes. And since we already struggle just to live modestly, in a rented duplex, with no car payments and a wardrobe that is ninety nine percent purchased from Ross, being a permanent stay at home mother seems financially impossible for my life at this moment.
But I know God can change that if I let Him.
All I know for sure is that sitting here at this desk, my heart is divided. Mentally, I'm only about ten percent here because the other ninety percent of me is at my mothers house, with my daughter. And though I trust and adore my mother and I feel so very blessed that I have family available to care for my daughter in a world full of mothers that tearfully leave there precious little ones at daycare against there will, God gave her to me and I know deep down that I should be the one there with her, because that's where He wants me.
That's my ultimate calling, to finally be the mother I've wanted so desperately to be. And I struggle with knowing that working to make more money to be able to buy her things isn't going to bring her happiness, nor will it glorify God.
She's so close to rolling over, and she's quite the talker. She'll take a bottle, but she's not satisfied until she's been breastfed. She recently found her hands, but doesn't always have control of them, and I secretly love that I'm really the only one that can make her happy.
In my mind, that's how it should be.
So now I sit here at my desk-torn-because I still feel the need to be at work so that we can afford to survive. Because It's only three days a week, and that's an amazing compromise that gives me the best of both worlds. Because I work at a family business, and leaving would disappoint a lot of people. Because I never planned to be a stay at home mom in the first place. Because surviving on very little adult interaction would probably drive me insane anyway.
And because this is what I'm supposed to do as a responsible adult.
This is normal.
And then the other half of my divided heart is breaking because two days a week my mother is raising my daughter for me, and one day a week my baby will be hushed quiet and confined to a pack-n-play while I attempt to get work done in the back office. Because I know that as long as I'm employed, my little family will never get one hundred percent of me. Because God gave me the most amazing gift and I'm afraid I'm not taking full advantage of this blessing and living up to my commitment to glorify Him with my life and teach my daughter to do the same. Because I don't want to look back and have regrets.
Because I'm too scared to step out on faith and do something different.
I love my job, and I'm so blessed to be able to work within the flexibility of a family business. I love my mother and I have no doubts she is the perfect person to take care of Scarlett while I work. And I love my new little family and feel that if it really is possible to do a good job of juggling motherhood, being a wife, taking care of the house and taking care of myself all at the same time, God will help me to find the strength to do so if I continue to go to Him in prayer and trust Him to have His way in my life.
But until then, my heart is still divided. So tell me, all of you mothers and mothers-to-be out there, what are your convictions? What does your heart tell you is right when it comes to raising these little miracles that God sent your way, and how do you separate what is right from wrong? Is it irrational to feel that sacrifice for the sake of your child is more important than anything the world has to offer?
Is your heart divided?
"Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.