A guest post by Molly of Molly Makes Do:
A perfect little house with just enough space to be comfortable and cozy. A yard big enough for adventures and exploration. A gaggle of smiling children. The ability to put real, wholesome food on the table for every meal. Hours spent living and growing in our lives together. A comfortable existence where every need is provided for and wants are never indulged too much. I see myself as the matriarch of this little dreamland; with enough hours in the days and no outside commitments except those we make as a family. These are the little things I daydream about and what my life does not look like.
In reality I am a working mother; or as I prefer an “employed” mother. I am not a woman who finds part of her vocation in a career or path that requires paid work outside the home, but just another woman trying to do right by her family. I am thankful for the job I have with its great benefits, understanding supervisors and non-standard schedule, but I’d rather be at home. My heart resides in my home, where my true vocation is, no matter where I spend my time. My focus is always on my family.
Haley asked me to write about staying “family focused” as an employed mother. Our friends clamored to find out how I stay, in their eyes, a “mother who occasionally works” instead of the other way around. Family life can be complicated enough as you weigh the needs and wants of your nuclear family and it gets increasingly complicated when you start bring other people into your day to day life.
One of the biggest challenges an employed mother faces is balancing the needs of her husband, her children, her family, her coworkers, her boss, her contacts, patients or customers. It is a precarious balance. One new project, one less coworker, a new illness or any new need can send you toppling over. Of course, this is true for any family there’s just the added fun adding extra adults who have not promised the whole litany of “love, honor, obey” and often laughs off the whole “in sickness and in health” thing.
There is a trick to this, the work/life balance however: I try my best to keep my family front and center of my life. In fact, I went as far to make this very clear in the job interview, when I was seven months pregnant, that got me my current job (and I still got the job). I try to honor our commandments and be a loyal and hard-working employee, but there’s a line. At the same time I try to devote myself completely to my family when I am home or when they need me, but there’s a line. I draw this line in the proverbial sand next to a big, proverbial sign that reads:
“Family Always Wins”
This is my great secret and it’s not even something exclusive to employed mothers. It is not striving for perfection, or trying to have “it all” or “do it all” because let’s face it, we all know that is a lie. It’s simply the answer to all the questions we ask ourselves, employees outside the home or not. In my life my family must always win, or come out ahead, in any decision we make.
This doesn’t mean that we sacrifice everything to the point of pain, hunger, or depression because if those are the results the family is not winning it’s struggling or perhaps even failing. There are times when a family wins with just one parent earning an income, and sometimes the family wins with two. There are times when a family wins by using public school, and sometimes it’s homeschool. There are times when a family wins by having the house clean at the end of the night and sometimes it’s by saying “yes” to one more book and ignoring the dishes. There are times when a family wins by long periods of time together and there are times when winning means a date night, a sleepover at grandmas or that early morning run or late night bath. It doesn’t matter what the answer is as long as the family comes out ahead.
What defines my family as winning changes week to week, day to day. Last week we had an impromptu picnic, complete with healthy fruits and veggies, at the park for dinner as soon as I got home. This week Mommy needed a few minutes to herself and the toddler unanimously voted pizza for dinner. Whatever the choice ends up being, it’s for the good of the family as a whole. The family always wins.
This is the motto I live by, and it is not as easy as it sounds. It requires thought, constant reevaluation, prayerful discernment and sacrifice of the things my selfish, sinful nature tells me would assure me a gold medal, while leaving my family in the dust. My family wins when I make a good supper, even though I’d be happy with pizza and oreos, again. My family wins when everyone is well rested, though my toddler adamantly tries his best to boycott naps. My family wins when I watch our budget and control our spending, even though I’d be happier with regular binges on ModCloth instead of regular trips to the thrift store. My family wins with our current dual income and amazing, trustworthy occasional caregivers, even though I’d give anything to stay-at-home. The answers aren’t always what I want and they’re rarely the same as my friends or the rest of society, but at the end of the day if I can look at our choices and see our family sprinting towards that finish line I know we’re running this race together and together we’ll win
Molly Walter spends most of her time in denial that she has a job that requires her attention outside of her home. She likes to pretend that she spends all her time crafting and making delicious food and that she doesn’t quickly wrap up “new baby” knits for first birthdays and doesn’t make the same five dishes for dinner. In both reality and fantasy she never keeps her house perfectly clean. The official Walter Family motto is “Read Books. Eat Cookies”. When she’s not doing those two things she blogs at “Molly Makes Do” about making the life she wants with the life she’s been given.
A note from Haley: For some great resources on work/life balance and other areas of homemaking (and our liturgical year cookbook, Feast!) check out the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale starting tomorrow (Wednesday, April 23 at 8am). With 78 ebooks, printables, and amazing bonus products, you can get a whole library of resources on homemaking worth almost $900 for under $30 but ONLY FOR SIX DAYS. It ends April 28th and then it will be gone forever.
I’ll be sharing all the titles tomorrow when the sale goes live and I am so excited to spill all the details! And there’s even a super secret gift I’m offering to all the Carrots readers who purchase through my author link and an amazing giveaway, so stay tuned!