Kayleigh just turned three months old this past weekend. Most mothers who have decided to return to work do so around this time. However, I chose to return to work just six short weeks after Kayleigh was born. It's amazing to me the judgement that mother's receive from one another about the choices we make regarding our children. One would think that having experienced similar journeys that women would be more apt to band together versus tear each other down. I am not saying that every woman who has ever been a mother is this way. It's not the case, in fact, I have been lucky to find several women who band together in such the opposite way. Unfortunately, the negative tends to make more of an impact on us than positive. Needless to say, in returning to work, and working with clients on a day to day basis, I fell under a great deal of scrutiny for this decision. As if, my own self-inflicted guilt and punishment was not enough, right?
The good news? Here I sit, some 6 weeks later, confident in my decision still and ever loved by my daughter and husband. I think it's important to remember that there are no guidelines when making choices for your children and family. You are the only one who is qualified to do so and who knows what is best for you and your family. I prayed over this decision before I committed to it and I've needed to pray over it for strength on many occasions; and every time, I feel reassured I've made the right decision. I can go into all the reasons I made this decision, but then I fall into a desperate need for rationalization. So rather than the reasons for why, let me share with you the many things I find reassuring.
- The best part of my day is when I step out of those office doors and know I am on my way to get my daughter. It does not matter the kind of day I had, when I sit down in my car and turn the key to ignition, a sense of joy washes over me knowing I will soon see her smiling face.
- As worried as I was about Daycare, Kayleigh receives all the love and attention from her teachers that I had ever hoped for. Her teachers have nothing but good things to say about her. When I show up unannounced, early, or late, she is always being cared for and receiving attention when. Her milestones are as important to them as they are to me and are constantly being celebrated.
- She is building relationships even at this young age. When I walk into that room and other babies are present she is interacting with other children. There was another child leaning on a bouncy chair Kayleigh was in just today in fact. She was helping Kayleigh bounce that seat all the while the two were cooing and gaaing at one another. It melts my heart. The teachers feel the need to say hello and goodbye every day and get their own special recognition smile from her as well.
- As much as I always thought she would forget me, going from 24/7 of my care and supervision, to spending 40+ hours away with strangers, I was wrong. She immediately smiles when she realizes I am there to pick her up and she clings to my arms, now that she can, when I go to drop her off. I'm still the only one who gets that specific, "I love you mommy" grin. And sometimes, in the evenings, when we think she's inconsolable, she just wants to cuddle with her mommy.
It's not been an easy decision to make or stick to, but I am a firm believer that when you are on the right path, it is made clear to you. I have amazing friends and family who have reached out to support me and offer encouragement when I do struggle. My time with Kayleigh is all that more precious too. Because it is not so abundant, I find I go out of my way more to play with her, read to her, teach her, sing to her, just be with her more and more. It's made me a better Mother and more appreciative of her. Which, by the way, I thought was impossible. If you are facing a decision like this, I implore you to pray over it and seek knowledge and refuge in His word.
I have heard mention of people picking a life verse. Although this is something I have not truly or "officially" done, below is Proverbs 31, which is probably the closest thing to a life verse that I have and is something I revisit almost daily. It works for me; find something that works for you, borrow this, what ever you can do to find an answer. Some women may read over it and be intimidated by the perfect woman described. I personally find hope in this message. It would be difficult to always exhibit all of these things and I think it's important to remember that God does not expect us to. Instead remember that what he expects of us is that we yield ourselves unto Him and stay true to that journey whether it calls us away or calls us home.
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
So much can be read into this passage, but it's really about what you take away from it. I am often faced with a faltering need to reassure myself that I am on the right path. I often feel overwhelmed with my obligations and commitments. I often feel as though I just need one night or day of rest. The job, though, is never done. When I read this passage, I find hope. I see a woman to who's character I wish to live up to. I hope only to be able to provide for my family the way she had for hers. I hope only to receive the love and praise of my husband and daughter, the way her family has honored her. I find reassurance in my decision to work away from my home during the day so that I can provide for my home at all times.
It's not been an easy decision, and unfortunately, it has not gotten easier. There are good days and bad. There are pros and cons. In the end though, I know I am doing what is right for my family. If this is a decision you have struggled with or already committed to, I hope you too can be so blessed to find comfort and guidance in His word and with the love of friends and family, as I have.
Genevieve blogs over at In My Daughter's Eyes.