Dear Working Mom,
Before I had my first baby, I thought I knew you. You showed me that working would suit our family. Like you, we needed the income. Also,
many of you my co-workers (without children) said that it helped to have some time to socialize with adults, that the time away would make me better somehow. I knew I could do it; you do it, I reasoned.
Then, I had “skin to skin” time, holding my child, my miracle in my arms for the first time. You know the moment. I was overwhelmed by an indescribable love, a simultaneous desire not to hold too tightly because he seemed so small, so precious and to hold on with all of my strength so that he would know he was home- he was safe, treasured, and loved. Fiercely loved.
During that first day, you know how the pangs of leaving him started to literally cause an ache in my heart. “Oh, I have 6 weeks…3 weeks…1 week,” I would whisper to myself, pushing away the unavoidable reality. Before I knew it, it was my last night, and I fought it with everything in me. I did not want to pack his bag. I wouldn’t go to sleep because I didn’t want the morning to come. I just rocked and rocked my sleeping baby, memorizing the sweet lines of his face. Oh, did the tears pour all night, all morning, when I kissed him goodbye, on my hour commute to work. I was in mourning, it seemed. Mourning the missed moments, the missed smiles, the missed coos, the missed cuddles, the missed firsts, and even the missed messes.
When I walked in to work, I was greeted with smiles and meaningless conversations. I felt like someone in a dream visiting a world that was familiar but not where I belonged. The worst part were the comments, you know the ones. “I bet you are glad to get out of the house” and “women shouldn’t find their identity in motherhood. They should have a career”.
You and I craved understanding. We needed someone to know that we adore being a stay-at-home mom, and that it is enough. That is it more than enough-that it is something to long for, to miss, and to mourn. It is worthy of a calling. For the moms who are able to stay home, we know it is not something to feel “less” about. You are not “just a stay-at-home mom.”
For you, the working mommas waiting to be at home with your children, I now understand. I apologize I did not acknowledge your hidden hurt and needless guilt you carry, believing the lies that you chose a career over your child. I know your pain, and it matters. I marvel at the strength you display to prepare the meals and pack the bags for a day of activities that will be done in your absence. I admire the courage you display to trust someone else to be with your baby, to comfort, to care, to teach, as we covet those opportunities.
You are not alone in your longing, in your waiting. There are several, goosebump-inducing moments in the Bible where all seems hopeless and helpless “but God” comes, the Deliverer, the Sustainer, the Comforter of His people. In Psalm 73:26, we hear, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is my strength and my portion forever.” For those of us feeling hopeless in this season, He whispers to you that He is here. Feeling weak? He shouts to you that He is here. Feeling alone? He comforts you by being here. He more than understands the pain of separation from a child, and He longs to heal our wounds.