Motherhood is not as seamlessly easy as I thought it would be.
This was a surprise. I have worked at summer camps and in daycare and as a nanny, all very mother-oriented positions, or so I thought.
As I approached my final year of college, and I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with this one “wild and precious life” (Thanks Mary Oliver!) like most of my other classmates. I had spent four years discovering that I LOVED literature. I loved exploring themes and ideas and dissecting characters and plots. I loved the analysis and the discussions in class. This led me toward pursuing a masters in teaching and as I was preparing for that next step, it suddenly seemed completely wrong.
Suddenly I very much wanted to be a mother, more specifically a stay-at-home mother. I could imagine it vividly and it seemed like there were signs all over signaling a switch in my course. Becoming a mother felt undeniably right. It was seated deep within my heart and this desire to raise up children swelled within me. I was so excited.
A few years and a couple of children later, I often find myself struggling under the immense implications of choosing to be a stay-at-home mother. When I made the choice, I was so sure, so confident. I knew that many would not understand. I knew that many would see this as a step back for feminism. I knew that many would think it wasn’t my choice and that I was throwing away years of education.
What I did not get was how thankless this job is, how much guilt and shame is associated with it, how looked down upon one can feel as a stay-at-home mother.
I surprised me how hard it was, how exhausting, how soul-stretching.
I have doubted my initial choice many times.
Each time I doubt my initial choice, I go back to my love of analysis and discussion. I talk to my husband, to family, to friends. I study books and blogs and scripture. I pray and write and think. Every single time the answer has come back that I need to continue being a stay-at-home mother and each time I understand that choice a little better.
This last time there was more to the reaffirmation of my choice. As I was pondering, a thought came to me as clear as day, Just because a choice is right, does not mean it will be easy.
The image of a professional outside the home came to me. I imagined this person who chose a job they loved and worked hard at, but they struggled with it at times too. The job was not easy, and at times they doubted if their work was what they should really be doing, but ultimately they loved it and pursued onward, even when it was hard.
I don’t know why this was so eye-opening to me, because frankly it seems obvious. Of course the right choice for you isn’t always easy! The debate between staying at home as a mother and working is long and exhaustive and the correct choice will be different for everyone, but what is amazing is that we have the choice and we get to choose for ourselves.
We have the ability to figure out what feels right and best for us. Sometimes what is right and best for us won’t always make us feel good because doing hard work is always soul-stretching, but we must have confidence in our ability to choose.
We may have to make the same choice over and over, or somewhere down the line it might feel right to change, to take a step in another direction. Whatever the path may be, we have the ability to know for ourselves and to know that truth with peace and confidence.
Even when you are sleep-deprived, emotionally spent, frustrated, and haven’t showered in 3 days.