About Work

10.19.2015


I think we can all agree that work is not our favorite.

Whether you work for yourself, work in an office, work at home, work year-round, work part time, or any other kind of work, there is always an aspect of work that's just no fun. I mean, don't we all just want the freedom to do what we want, when we want, however we want? Work often gets in the way of that because, you know, we need money to do those things we want.

A few posts ago, I made a comment that going back to work after having a baby is brave. Some people questioned whether "brave" was really the right word to use. I mean, I'm just going back to work, not jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.

The thing is, brave means so many different things to so many different people. What seems brave to one person isn't necessarily brave to another. For me, leaving my baby in someone else's care all day long is really scary. So, I feel that it requires bravery for me to do it.

It seems like stay-at-home moms get on the defensive pretty fast when people talk about work. Some people might think that being a SAHM means you don't do anything but sleep in every day and hit up Target around ten o'clock. However, if you've ever taken care of a child  (or two or three) for a day by yourself, you know that isn't true. It's a full-time job to run a household and take care of children, and sometimes it drives you half crazy in the process. It's hard work.

Not everyone is cut out for it, and not everyone wants to do it, but what frustrates me is that sometimes I feel like people act like everyone can do it. "Are you going back to work?" was a common question I got while I was pregnant, and maybe it shouldn't have annoyed me because people were just honestly asking, but it really did annoy me. It's like, "Yes, okay? I can't afford to not work right now." *hangs head in shame* For us, it is much more cost effective at this point for both of us to work, especially me because my job has the 401k and better health insurance. If one of us were going to quit, it would most likely be Jordan.

In my "ask anything" call for questions, someone wanted to know how I decided how much maternity leave to take, so here's my answer: I was told by my boss how much maternity leave I could take. I would have preferred to take twelve weeks, but it is what it is. I do, however, feel extremely blessed that they offered me the opportunity to work full-time at home until the end of the year. I would be a hot mess if I had to take R to a daycare three weeks ago.

I received two other questions that relate to this topic:
1. Do you feel like people judge you for being a working mom?
2. Do you plan on working for the long haul, or if it worked out would you stay at home?

I think all moms feel judged to some extent, whether they work from home, stay at home, or work outside the home. SAHM moms seem to feel that people think they don't "do anything," and I suppose working moms might feel judged for leaving their kids during the day and not being around. To answer the question, I have not yet felt judged for being a working mom, and I think it's absolutely terrible that anyone would judge someone for working to provide for their family. But I also think it's terrible that someone would judge a SAHM for quitting their job to stay home with their kids.

I've mentioned this in previous posts, but the fact of the matter is, I basically can't talk about leaving R to go back to work in my office or I start crying. I thought that since I like my job and my coworkers and generally don't mind going to work every day, it wouldn't be that big of a deal to leave her, but the truth is: sometimes I really feel like it might just kill me. If I had the option to quit my job, I absolutely would. The green monster of envy is insanely jealous of all my friends who are able to do that. I absolutely do not want to leave my baby with someone else all day long.

And yet.

I am very much aware of the fact that as a Christian, I am to do everything without complaining or arguing, and I am also to do everything for the glory of God. Even work. I am very thankful for a job I like and coworkers I like, and I am thankful for a job that allows me to buy food and save for vacations and set up a college fund for R. I am really praying about having the right attitude about all of this, because God has put me in this place for a reason, and who am I to say that I want to stay at home? Maybe he has me going to work to be a witness or a comfort to someone there?

It won't be easy for me to go back to work in an office. It's already been an adjustment to go back to work at all. The work/life balance will be difficult to figure out, but I am praying that I can have the right attitude about it. It does feel like the brave thing to do, mostly because the thought of it scares me, but that doesn't mean staying at home with your kids isn't brave too.

I think most of all what I'm realizing and what I want other people to realize is that life is hard for everyone, no matter what it is you do. We need to not judge and compare and be envious, but instead let's support one another in our different work and understand that there are good and bad aspects to every situation. 

No one has the perfect life, the perfect setup, even if that's what it looks like from the outside. Life, with all of its ups and downs, is really hard work.

"Understand this: we are both tiny and massive. We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself. Swell with pride and gratitude, for you are tiny and given much. You are as spoken by God as the stars."
-N. D. Wilson, Death by Living

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 
-1 Corinthians 10:31

28 comments:

  1. I don't have babies yet, but I'm seeing and hearing all about the struggle through my sister. Her little one is 5.5 months and at 3 she was at day care while my sister worked. They have the same situation as you, where it would be her husband, if one of them decided to quit their job.

    People will judge regardless at what your choice is. And it truly breaks my heart. I feel we should support each other, be in each other's corners at such times. All mommas have such a hard time already.

    There's no right or wrong choice. But I hope you put your fears and troubles in God's hand and know he will guide you to the best one for you.

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  2. I think you hit the nail on the head when it comes to bravery. Being brave means so many different things to so many different people. I'm pretty laid back about a lot of things, but I get very, very anxious when I have to make phone calls to anyone outside of my normal circle (basically my parents, Michael, or my bff). It's such a weird thing, but it makes me so very uncomfortable. So yeah, when I work up the courage to call a company or salesman or whatever, I feel like I was being brave. It may be something trivial, but it's something that is difficult for me! I think we could all agree on certain things that require bravery, but at the same time, I think bravery can also be very personal.

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  3. I can imagine that all this is stressful and I agree with you 100% about bravery being relative.
    I get married in less than a year (cue: panic attack) and there are many, many people around me and the fiancé about who's going to work and if we're going to try for kids right away and if we're going to homeschool the hypothetical 4 kids we should have... It makes me crazy. CrAzY! Seriously.
    I'm like you in that the future-husband and I won't really be able to let me stay at home after I graduate college. We can't afford to have kids right away, either. Even when we do have (not 4) kids, I probably STILL won't be able to stay at home. And homeschooling? I'm going to school to be a teacher, so... Conflict of interest, much?
    I don't think people realize how much their questions, comments, and concerns make newbies (new wife, new parent, etc) feel. Thank you for this post, Amanda. I needed it. :)

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  4. I think it's so important that you are doing what you need to do for your family. I know the situation isn't ideal, but none are perfect!!! I support you no matter if you work or stay at home!!!

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  5. I think you're right about the fact that it's hard for everyone, there are drawbacks and perks to both options! I would love to hear more about how you're balancing time with your little one/workload/etc!

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  6. Amanda, I am so happy for you and yet I completely understand the struggles that you're facing!!!! I think so many times either decision feels like a lose-lose....but, it's there, waiting to be made. You and Jordan are great parents and R will appreciate all of your hard work soooo much!

    I'll be praying for you, especially as the year comes to a close. You'll figure things out and God will be there leading you along all the way.

    It's easier said than done (I almost CAN'T do it), but silence the voices and the pressure around. What they think doesn't matter one little bit. The only One you'll have to answer to is working right along beside you!

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  7. ps - That was totally a three thumbs up, "I think you are A-MAZING!!!!" comment, btw! :)

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  8. I really like that you mentioned how your prayers are centered on your attitude. Very rarely does God let us pick our path, especially if we've determined to live out His will, but we're always in control of how we approach the situations He puts us in. Good reminder for us all. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I wish you could see my lip quivering pathetically trying to hold back tears in the office lactation room. Lol You and your writing has been such a blessing to me the last couple months. It is so heartbreaking to go through this separation from our babies, but it hurts a tinge less when I know someone else is going through the EXACT same thing I am. Here's to soldering on...and then weeping...and then soldiering on some more :)

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  10. I wish you could see my lip quivering pathetically trying to hold back tears in the office lactation room. Lol You and your writing has been such a blessing to me the last couple months. It is so heartbreaking to go through this separation from our babies, but it hurts a tinge less when I know someone else is going through the EXACT same thing I am. Here's to soldering on...and then weeping...and then soldiering on some more :)

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  11. I just wanted to say thank you for being so open and honest. I have been reading your blog forever it seems, but never comment. This is exactly what I needed today. I went back to work full-time, in an office, without my baby boy, last week. (I have been about a week ahead of you throughout pregnancy and births). Leaving him has been the worst thing ever and I have not had a very good attitude about the whole thing. Thank you for reminding me that having to come back to work has not taken God by surprise. My attitude and prayers have been about why I should get to stay home with Jack, not for the reasons He still has me here. I am pretty sure we could be best friends and Jack and R would get along great!

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  12. I couldn't have said it better. I love your blog. I love your attitude. I'm bookmarking this post to read over...and over...and over again. Hang in there - being a working momma is BRAVE. It's hard. But you aren't alone. You are strong. You are full of faith and positivity. You are amazing!

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  13. I have friends who have gone back to work after having babies and friends who have stayed home (including a couple of stay-at-home-dad friends). And in our small little community, there's a lot of understanding and kindness. But that's not what those friends face all the time. They face opinionated family members, strangers at the grocery store, and old friends from college that they run into who have plenty to say about their choice to work or stay home. And like you mentioned, sometimes it's not even a choice so much as what reality needs to be. I really don't get why people are so judgey about it. Other than maybe they feel like if you chose something different than them, that you clearly must be judging their choice. So they judge you back and get defensive. But I mean, as long as your children are cared for and loved, I don't see why it's something to cause people to feel guilt over. Anyway, I'm just rambling now, ha!

    I can't imagine how difficult things are going to be come January, but hopefully you'll find the perfect place for R to go and that will make the whole going back to the office part easier.

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  14. people questioned the use of the word brave? RUDE.
    ugh. it annoys me, but people judge regardless. you gotta do what works for you. end of story.

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  15. I think it is hard no matter what you choose to do. I don't for one second believe that being a SAHM is easy, just babysitting my niece for a day almost kills me with exhaustion. My friends had a really hard time going back to work and would love to have stayed home but financially it just wasn't possible. Either way it is a hard decision to make and we should cut every mother some slack.

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  16. People judge, that's just the way they are. Let 'em. But it's good to be honest about motivations and situations and reality. Some people go back to work because they can't stand staying at home. Some people go back to work because that's the only choice. The fight for mere survival seems so much more real here--the idea of SAHMs is a ridiculously high standard to achieve for people who might earn the equivalent of 1-3 USD per hour. Those who can pay for it get childcare--those who can't have their babies cared for by whichever family member is too old and crippled to work outside anymore (there's a reason my family has 4 extra toddlers at their house each day, and it's because there aren't really safe options for those toddlers while their parents are at work). Malaysia is a huge center for domestic workers--many of these Indonesian and Filipino women left their kids in the care of grandparents for a year or more at a time so that they can come over here on contract jobs, since it's the best way they can take care of their family. For someone like me, educated and privileged as I am, I can't even imagine the pain of that choice. "Best" looks different for every person--just keep doing best your way. I appreciate your commitment to doing all things without grumbling and complaining. That's been an important part of the Christian walk for me, and one I think much of the world could certainly put a little more effort into. I sometimes get the impression that life is just a competition about who can complain about their precious life more than everybody else.

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  17. I could quote and comment on every line I agree with, but I would end up pasting your whole post in the comment section, so I will just say what Michelle said: YES YES YES. YES, bravery can mean many different things. YES, people should stop judging what other people do and choose. YES, there is no right or wrong. And YES, I really enjoy the way you write about this experience. :)

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  18. I really love your perspective on this. Props to you for opening up such a good conversation starter. No matter what anyone's opinion is, I think we can all agree that being judged for our own decisions and desires is no fun. That quote is amazing.

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  19. I learned this one via Oprah a long time ago, when people are making their judgey comments or criticisms it is more often about them than it is about you. Unfortunately, if you haven't made peace with yourself, you are more likely to take what others say to heart. You know how much you love your baby and that you are doing what is best for her and your family. She will have a strong role model to look up to.

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  20. Friend! You have a lot going on, thanks for sharing with us.

    I know we shouldn't care if people judge us but the fact is, we are human and it still hurts our feelings. Even through that though I still firmly believe God will give you grace when you need it. Yes, there will be tears but I think that is ok. I know when my sister went back to work she cried too and it was hard but God brought her through and she is doing better with it.

    Thanks for pointing out that we should be supportive of each other and not judge. I know I need to be better about it. I also sometimes think people assume Dave and I live a gloriously easy life overseas and it just isn't that way all the time. Granted, I'm blessed more than I even realize but the truth is we are all flawed and lived in a flawed world so support and love is the much better option.

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  21. Friend! You have a lot going on, thanks for sharing with us.

    I know we shouldn't care if people judge us but the fact is, we are human and it still hurts our feelings. Even through that though I still firmly believe God will give you grace when you need it. Yes, there will be tears but I think that is ok. I know when my sister went back to work she cried too and it was hard but God brought her through and she is doing better with it.

    Thanks for pointing out that we should be supportive of each other and not judge. I know I need to be better about it. I also sometimes think people assume Dave and I live a gloriously easy life overseas and it just isn't that way all the time. Granted, I'm blessed more than I even realize but the truth is we are all flawed and lived in a flawed world so support and love is the much better option.

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  22. I don't have children but I think brave is absolutely the right word when it comes to leaving a baby. It's actually one of the reasons the hubs and I don't have children yet. That, and maternity leave which is non-existent where I work. All time off must come out of my personal leave or be unpaid. It already terrifies me know that if I get pregnant right now, I would have to leave my child every day and I would be returning to a job I don't enjoy. I will be praying for you as you transition back to being in the office every day. You can do it!

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  23. Very well written. We all make the best decisions we can for our families and there are pros and cons to staying home or going back to work. But more often than not, the pros and cons don't even matter - circumstances require one or the other, home or work.

    Keep praying about it - you know that God is going to provide exactly what your family needs when the time is right. He is now!

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  24. I was so right this morning when I thought to read your blog. ;) I think you are so rad! And doing so awesome! I'm not a mom, so I have no idea how it would feel to leave my child, but I cry about everything so I'm sure I would be in tears. I definitely know what it feels like to feel like people are judging me though, whew. I'm currently not working, but I've been trying to find a good job outside of the home and it has been rough, no fun at all. And sometimes I feel like people my perceive our life all rainbows and sunshine because of Tyler's job, but we also have a crazy amount of student loans, meaning we don't have any money either, ha! We're all just trying to make it one day at a time. And I'm sure you're totally killing it! :)

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  25. I hate that people judge for every life decision we make. You date someone for awhile and they start asking when you are going to get married. You get married and now they are nagging you about having a kid. You tell them you aren't sure if you are actually going to have a kid so they judge you for that and call you selfish. Then you actually do have a kid and now they cant stay out of your business on whether or not you are going to work. The judging never stops. All you can do is what is best for you and your family. I feel like we should all be more supportive of each others decisions.

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  26. I hear a lot about the SAHM vs working mom struggle and this was my first insider's glimpse to the thoughts behind it. I think it's what lands up being right for your family and I commend you for being so vulnerable in this post- it was really eye opening to read!

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  27. Oh girl. I get this completely. It IS hard. And I am sorry that you are having the raw emotions of leaving her in the future (or has that already happened seeing I am so far behind??). Praying for you for smooth transitions and peace in the process.

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