My greatest decision when I became a mother was whether or not I would return to my job outside the home. It was a tough decision because I really didn’t want to live on a restricted budget if I stayed home, yet I couldn’t bear the thought of having to be away from my baby. Also, I really didn’t want to disappoint the onlookers who thought that women need to have their own professional identity, regardless of whether or not they have children. I didn’t want to appear stupid or dumb or foolish or cowardly or less-than by choosing my family over my career. It’s far more acceptable (and even expected—perhaps because it is often necessary for financial reasons) in the present era for a woman to return to work six weeks after birthing a baby as if we’re ready to roll again and as if our baby isn’t going to need us as his or her mother. But I knew that I couldn’t do this. I didn’t want to do this. Not all mothers have the freedom to choose (or the desire to want to choose) to halt their career and the professional brand that they’ve built for themselves for the sake of participating in the momentary indulgence (as some might think that it is) of taking care of their baby 24/7. This, simply, is not reality for all mothers. But because I recognized that I did have the chance and the desire to do it, I did it. And I’m glad I did. Because it turns out that this is my thing. And here I am, sharing with you about it. None of us can make decisions that someone else would make for us. We all must make the decisions that only we, ourselves, can make. It wouldn’t be right of me to say (as some might) that all women should stay home and take care of their own babies. That might not be your path. Nor might you want it to be. And if it’s not, and if you don’t, then that’s okay. You have to do what works for you and your family. All I can say is that I did what works for me and my family. And that is my story.
I’d like to leave you with a thought that I keep in my heart daily, and this is a thought that applies to all of us regardless of whether we stay home or not as we mother our children. The most important decision to make as a mother is to decide to be loving, kind, gentle, understanding, forgiving, and faithful regardless of circumstance. Choose grace and mercy over punitive retaliation, and choose peace and self-control over self-serving discord. The point is not to not feel our feelings (which cover the entire spectrum as we spend more and more time in motherhood world) but to feel what we need to feel and yet choose a constructive approach to solve the inevitable issues we will face as our child is now a part of our lives. This is not easy by any means. Irritations build up before we even know it, and little tiny things then have the potential to become a catalyst for blow ups. This is why we need the Lord to anchor us and to give us perspective and to give us guidance, and this is why it’s so important to trust him every day for the ability to do our jobs well and with love. When we treat our children gently (as Jesus treated children while on earth and as God treats us as his children this day), they will grow up with gentleness in their heart and will, in turn, be able to care well for others. Love breeds love. This is our living truth, as the mothers we are.
The Childbearing Woman: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Nursing, and Motherhood by Tiffany Tyndall is available for purchase here.