I have been a mom for almost 10 years now…really a decade. Seems like just yesterday, I was walking with a waddle and swollen ankles, full of excitement and fear at the prospect of being a mom. The day I held my sweet baby girl has to be one of the most joyful times in my entire life. In my arms was the little life that had been growing inside of me for nine months. She was part me and part my amazing husband. God had chosen us to create her and she was perfect in every way. That single moment gave me a new definition of who I was and where my life would lead. I was no longer Amy Johnson, Graphic Design Consultant for a major banking corporation. I was now a working mom.
For months I had been planning the arrival of our not so little bundle of joy. I would be home with her for 12 weeks (had excellent benefits at my job), then I would go back to the job that I absolutely loved. However, the day I held her in my arms, something broke inside me. It was a good break. I KNEW, leaving her everyday in someone else’s care would be all but impossible for me to do.
Up until the moment I held my daughter, I had every intention of going back to work at a job that I loved. In my heart, I am an artist, a creator, a visual communicator. It is one of the many wonderful things that makes up the person that I am. Because of that love, it wasn’t a big deal for me to envision myself dropping that cute little bundle off at daycare. The nursery room worker would scoop her up and dote on her as I ran out the door to my dream job. YEAH RIGHT…I don’t know what I was thinking!!! The moment I laid eyes on her I knew I couldn’t do it. But, I didn’t have an option. I had to go back to work. We needed my income.
I found some comfort in the fact that my family was able to keep her on the days my husband couldn’t be with her. Then he took a job at a private school and she went to work with him everyday. That was wonderful, but she wasn’t with me. I wanted so much to be with her every minute. During that time, I still loved my job, being creative was inside of me and was something I didn’t want to go away! I was able to earn national awards for my work, help our family financially and shower my sweet girl with pretty much anything she wanted. I was able to keep my identity as an artist and still be a mom. But I was miserable too. I missed her first step….that hurt! I missed many bottles, giggles, rocking her to sleep for naps and sweet snuggles. In my heart all I wanted was to be at home with her.
Then it happened. My husband took a job as a pastor of a church in the mountains. We sold our house and I was able to stay at home with my baby girl. She wasn’t quite 2 yet, so we launched into doing all the mommy things like going to story time, picnics outside, and going to the park to play in the early morning. I was happy. I loved being with her every minute. It was wonderful to be able to be home, keep a tidy house and cook for my little family. However, as the months turned into years, I began to loose a big part of my identity. I was very lonely. I missed adult interaction. I missed earning my own money. I missed working among other creatives. I loved my life but desperately missed who I once was.
As she grew, I took on a few freelance jobs and was able to bring back a little of my former self. That helped tremendously. Then the day came so quickly in August that I barely knew it was there. She was 5 and it was time for Kindergarten. We enrolled her in the local public school, one of the best in our state actually. Boy oh boy, that was a fun place. Our little social butterfly loved it. I was bored out of my mind without her, but she loved it. I attended all the events and helped in the classroom. I went on field trips and made treat bags. I loved being a public school mom. She was so cute in her little performances. She was awarded, citizen of the year, 2 out of the 3 years she attended and was in the beginning AG program. Honestly we had no complaints, she was excelling.
During her second grade year, some things happened that forced us to leave her public school and make the choice to homeschool. Homeschooling has been an wonderful solution for our family. We use an online curriculum and have really enjoyed the flexibility and the hands on learning. I love the one on one aspect and the fact that I get to be with her as she learns. If she is struggling with something, it is awesome to have the ability to pause and spend more time on it. She has excelled more than I could ever imagine. She is a rising 4th grader and tested at an overall 7th grade level at the end of last year.
As I look back, a decade later, I have had the opportunity to be a working mother, a stay at home mom, a public school mom and now a homeschooling mom. There is so much controversy in the mom world over each one of these roles. I will say in all my roles I found great joy and pleasure in whatever season I was in. I also found times of sadness and regret in them all too. No matter what role I was in, one thing I have learned is the mom circle can be brutal. There is always another mom who thinks she can get the job done better than you. She will disrespect you and make you feel like a horrible mother for your life choices. This type of behavior leaves me shaking my head because I don’t understand it! Really at the core, we are all in this together and we should be supporting one another.
So how can we stop these mom wars? How can we foster an environment of love and support for one another? I believe the first step, dear momma, is to listen to your heart. Stop listening to every other momma out there and comparing yourself to them. God gave you that baby. If He didn’t think you were the absolute best fit for that child, He wouldn’t have given you the opportunity to raise it. The God who created it all believes in you and your momma abilities. You’ve got this.
You also have to understand, that there is no perfect mom and no perfect way to raise kids. I have been blessed with many roles in my career as a mom. During each season, those roles were the right fit for our family. I wasn’t happy every minute and often I longed for something different. But, that didn’t mean I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. Happiness isn’t found in other people and things. Happiness is found in your identity in Christ. I knew who I was in Christ and that helped me be happy during the times when my heart longed for something different.
The sad reality is that throughout every season, there have been many mom’s who have made me feel less. I don’t mean because of a self-esteem issue I had. It was their words. Their ridicule for how I put on the diaper. The disdain that I was working and my husband was at home for a season trying to better our family. The horrid comments that I had actually subjected my sweet innocent Christian child to public school. The utter disgust that I would take on her education myself and subject her to a life of awkward social interactions. Mom’s can be horrible and it is so unnecessary.
As mom’s, we just need to shut up. We need to stop giving unwanted advice and ridiculing other momma’s for making a different choice than we have. We are not the expert and we don’t know what is right for their family. We need to focus on our family and let everyone else focus on theirs. Let’s stop being jealous, critical, self-righteous, over-bearing and mean. Let’s instead choose love and caring. Let’s be helpful and kind. Let’s work together raising our little ones and love each other through it all. Let’s be a shoulder that a struggling mom can cry on and be an encouragement when she asks us what to do. Let’s give advice when wanted but only through love and care.
So whether you are a working mother, stay-at-home mom, public school mom or home school mom, be proud of it and be encouraged that you are doing the right thing! Follow your heart and do exactly what God leads you to do as a family. Don’t listen to other moms, because in my experience, 9 times out of 10 they will just leave you feeling discouraged and defeated. You are beautiful and at the end of the day, your kiddos love you for being you! So, momma’s out there, lets connect! Tell me a little about your experience as a momma.