Monday, August 1, 2011

{A Divided Heart}

It's like riding a bike.

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.


  1. I am a stay at home mom of three boys, 3, 2 and 7 months. When I was pregnant with my first I worked part time as a nanny for a family and it was a wonderful job. I learned so much, they even offered to let me just bring my son once he was born and continue working. That would have been a great set-up, working in someones home and taking care of my son at the same time. But I knew my calling was to stay home and devote my time to my home and family. God has so greatly blessed us, I NEVER thought we could survive on one income, but we do. There are times that I get frustrated because the grocery budget is tight, it's not always easy, but we make it. I have found great joy in things like making laundry soap, clipping coupons, making our own baby food, menu planning so we aren't tempted to go out to eat. All of those things are things that I do for my family but I do them with joy because I feel like I am serving the Lord by being the best steward of our home that I can be. I understand exactly what you said, that I do not judge those that are not in the same position but I KNOW that this is where the Lord wants me. It's hard because the human part of me wants to provide "things" for my kids, but teaching them to love and trust Jesus, how to be used by Him and to live their lives telling others about His sacrifice is the most important thing I can give them. God will provide, he ALWAYS does!

  2. I sometimes tell Dan he is going to have to send me to the looney bin cause I just might go crazy! I crave adult conversation, and little things like quiet and peace and being able to go to the bathroom uninterrupted. But I know that soon, and much sooner than I want, all those things will happen. I don't want to miss a thing with my kids. I have already missed too much, just by not getting them at birth. I believe God chose YOU to be Scarlett's mama. No one else can do what you can for her. With my little ones, I have learned about how important those first months, and years are to our babies and their little developing brains. I bet you are the one who can tell just what she needs the best. I am selfish with my babies. Their "firsts" belonged to me! I wanted to see it all and experience it, and not regret missing it. Before you know it, she will be headed off to school like my Ben. I can't believe how fast it went! These feelings are God given. I know you will follow whatever God is leading you to do, whether to stay home or work. You are a great mama. Those little ones can sure teach you about sacrifice! Just remember, if God is the one calling you to stay home, then He will be the one to provide! I love you and am proud of you! My prayers are with you!

  3. i work full time.

    the girls have a nanny 3x per week & go to my mother's on mondays & my mother in law's on friday.

    why? because i am SO not called to be a full time SAHM. my sanity would suffer & my girls would suffer because of it.

    i need to get out & work & make money.
    is having money all that matters?
    no- but lets be honest, it IS a necessity. we want to be able to provide the girls with everything we never had.
    we also want to plan for our financial future.
    we have no desire to live paycheck to paycheck & if something unexpected ($ wise) comes up we want to be able to have the funds to cover that without stressing.
    so i work.

    i also don't choose to view other people watching them as "raising my kids"
    they're still my kids & i still raise them. just because they're in the care of a 3rd party for a few hours out of the day doesn't change that. simple.

    however, i also understand that some women are called to stay home. and to that i say- go for it. i think being a SAHM has to be the hardest job ever. i'm serious.

    going to work is like a break for me. getting paid is like a bonus.

    do what you feel is for you. every single person & family is different. your decision can only be based on what is right for you.

  4. My heart is no longer divided, but it certainly was at one time;) Oh, how I can relate to your struggle - and I sympathize greatly!! It is an extremely tough decision to make. God put it on my heart to be a stay-at-home-Mom early on in my pregnancy, and I felt completely torn because 1) I LOVED my job, and 2) I didn't see how we could financially manage to survive on one income. I remember praying earnestly about our decision during the months leading up to John's arrival, and I also remember that time was especially tough on my husband in particular, as he was really struggling with the idea. I knew though this was a necessary step in our lives that God would bless us for, and that we needed to simply trust that He would provide, and I can say that He fully has. His provision this past year has been just incredible..Yes, money is tight nearly every day, and we have to consistently make a conscious effort not to spend the way we used to. But somehow we make ends meet every single month. And I am more fulfilled than I ever imagined I could be as a stay-at-home Mom..I miss my job at times, but I truly have never "looked back." I get the awesome privilege of raising a beautiful boy into a man, and if that's not purpose I'm not sure what is;) I love spending each and every moment with him, knowing I'm not missing a single thing and that our time together is all too fleeting. And in addition to this I get to be the kind of wife and mother of my dreams..taking care of my home and family the way I've always wanted to. I realize staying home is a very personal decision and that not everyone is able's tough financially to do. But if God is laying this on your heart then I encourage you to pray about it and He will show you the way to make it happen. It is easier said than done, I know, and it is super scary to walk from the familiar into the unknown, but the rewards are SO sweet on the other side:) My favorite verse is this and I hope it brings you some comfort during this time: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." (Prov. 3:5-6) As you have experienced as well, God can (and does, if we let him) make what may seem impossible, possible. Best wishes with your decision!!((HUGS))

  5. I feel your struggle. I miss being home with my babies, I feel like I'm missing everything, and sometimes I just hold them when I get home cause I crave that time with them. Zeke is almost 4 and Anabelle is over a year old now and the time has flown by so fast, and I don't know where it went. We cannot financially afford to not have me work, but if it was at all doable... I would make it work cause nothing was more fulfilling as staying home with them.

  6. "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."

    I think you have your answer. You know what to do. Pray for God to help you have the faith you need.

    This isn't a right or wrong decision. But, obviously He is leading you a certain way.

    I fought this battle for 2 years. I worked 1-2 days a week when Ella was born until age 2. I am SO happy to be at home with my 3 children. It was an adjustment at first. But now I am POSITIVE this is where I need to be. I have done it both ways now and would never tell someone to keep working if they can in anyway make it possible to stay home.

    You will never regret staying home. Think about it...have you ever heard a SAHM say "I wish I had gone to work and not stayed home."? Nope! Never!

    Keep praying! She will turn out fine no matter what you decide. Children need love. It really is simple. And no one can love them as much as mommy.

    If it is your desire to be at home, pray for God to work that out for you.

  7. I want SO much to be a SAHM, but it's just not financially possible right now. I am very blessed to be able to work from home full-time and have someone come in to care for my litle guy. It is absolutely wonderful to be able to take breaks through out the day and love on my baby.

    There is a part of me that wishes I cold devote ALL day to my baby and home, but I know that God has made it possible for me to work at home and still be with my baby.

    I prayed SO long and hard for this sweet child and God has blessed us. I know He will continue to bless us and hopefully one day I will be able to be a SAHM full-time. For now, I am a WAHM (work at home mom).

  8. It isn't possible financially for me to SAH with Lily & Sophia. Ideally, I would love to work PT to make some money for the family and be able to afford vacations and their college. But I have to work FT to do that here in So Cal where we have a high COL. Yes, my heart is divided. I always worry about how I divide up the 100% and who I am short-changing - my girls, my husband, my family, my friends, my boss, my employees, my pets, etc. And this won't go away. I just have to pray that everyone understands I am doing my very best and love me for it.

  9. I loved my job before I had Paige. I made decent money, great benefits, and loved my friends there. But I couldn't leave my daughter. David and I would have sold a car, sold out house, given up every luxury we had in order to make that happen. I just had to be with her. I can't explain it...I don't judge others for choosing to work and leave their kids. I just couldn't do it.

    Good luck, sweetie. This is a tough choice.

  10. As I'm reading your post, I feel like it is almost exactly how I felt. Near the end of my pregnancy I took on a part-time job at our church. I really enjoyed it and loved that my mom was able to care for Jackson while I worked. I knew, even before I was pregnant, that I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom, but financially it wouldn't work for us. I prayed all through my pregnancy and still there was no raise or promotion for my husband. I questioned why God would place this incredible desire to stay home with my baby on my heart, yet not provide the means for it to happen. When 12 weeks was up, I went to work and it was tough. I loved what I was doing and the people I worked with, but my heart was at my mom's house with my baby. I ended up working about 3 months and then my husband did receive a promotion. We definitely do not live extravagantly and sometimes it's difficult. We've had to cut back on our going out to movies or eating out. It's definitely a struggle, but I love every minute with Jackson, even when he's totally fussy:) I love my "new" job. I do miss the adult interaction, but going to mom's groups or bible studies helps with that.
    I really believe that you will know the right thing to do. God has blessed you with an amazing gift and He will give you the wisdom to know what the right thing is for you to do.

  11. Jason & I have made the decision that come hell or high water I will always be at home with the kids. Especially at this age (2 & 1) they need mommy home with them. Even if that means Jason working 2 to 3 jobs at a time to make ends meet. (Which he is) Yes, our relationship with each other suffers at times, never seeing each other, long hours bringing out the crabiness. But we make sure that if its getting to be a bit overwhelming to take a date night or date day. You're a terrific Mommy Tab! Listen to your heart and gut whats right for you, and Willie and most of all Scarlett! God ALWAYS provides! Even when on paper it just doesnt make sense how the rent got paid, HE is in control! Love you!