If you had asked me a couple of years back what I do for a living, I’d have looked you straight in the eyes and told you straight up, I’m a mom, need I say more? My resume would have included the following description and then some. Nonstop cleaning lady, 24 hour a day short order cook, personal assistant, finance adviser, loan officer, troop grocer, personal organizer, stylist, motivational coach, trainer, storyteller, fixer upper, triage nurse, detective, school volunteer, advocate, and yes teacher. I won’t mince words I loved being a stay at home mom. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade easier days for any of the difficult ones. They say, “Love what you do and do it well.” Guess that pretty much sums me up then.
Lately Johnny and I have been reminiscing, taking a stroll down memory lane, evaluating our lives. You could say we’ve really stopped to smell the roses. We’ve talked a lot about how we met, retelling stories, pulling old pictures out of our boys, ourselves, my parents and his mom and dad. We’ve talked about where we started, how blessed we are and everything else in between. To be honest we’ve come a very long way in 20 years. By God’s grace I was able to be at home with our boys all those years. It was definitely a sacrifice, especially on Johnny’s part. He worked 2 jobs at certain junctions to make ends meet. Even as difficult as it was, we knew that’s where I needed to be. Looking at our boys presently, who by the way aren’t so little anymore, there’s no doubt we made the right decision. Let me be clear here. I wasn’t just a mom; I was a king maker. I raised our boys to respect all women, to value their place as queens, working inside or outside the kingdom walls. See, it was my choice to stay home, a choice I don’t regret. But this is the thing, working moms by choice or not, should be respected and appreciated.
Honesty, I don’t think when we were raising our boys I could have done both without driving one of us nuts. I’m one of those all in or nothing kind of girls, which in many ways isn’t a bad thing but can make my vision a bit unclear at times. As a stay at home mom I was all in, hands on, all the time, let’s go, hair’s a mess, mommy needs a makeover kind of mama. Truth, I lost myself at times but I found myself too. The greatest life lesson I’ve taken away as a mom is this: “Your kids don’t want a perfect mom; they just want a happy one” (arabahjoy.com). This is where Life Lesson # 61 comes in. Love what you do, period. Doesn’t matter what your profession is or isn’t. You can be a working mom, dad or a stay at home mommy or daddy; you just have to love what you do, big or small. That’s really the whole story. Angelina Jolie says it perfectly, “I think if you love what you do, and the choice you’ve made in your life, somehow that drives you forward to enjoy it all. Even the chaos, even the exhaustion of it, and even when it seems out of balance.”
For me, going back to work, let’s just say, the idea after almost 2 decades of being “just a mom” was terrifying. I wasn’t even sure I had the skills to do anything of any value honestly. Oh wait what did my resume say again? That’s right I had skills, mad skills baby or something like that anyway. The reality? I didn’t need to sell my skills to the world; I simply needed to believe in myself. Believe in the woman I have become, just be me. Oh I was completely petrified alright. But with a little self-confidence, a great deal of stress, a lot of encouragement, the right pair of shoes and a good push out the door guess what? Presto, I was a working mom for the first time since Joshua was born. Now in the beginning I worked sales and marketing (glamorous words for a wine demo model). Then I worked food service in the schools (not as glamorous, but I rocked my lunch lady bun and hair net) for a brief period. That is until I found the courage to really believe in myself, to get back to my calling; to the Christina I knew I really was. So again, with a push and a prod, I dusted off my degree and leaped right into the one thing outside of being a mom I love. I applied to teach. I was scared believe me but I kept repeating Joshua 1:9, “I have commanded you ‘Be strong and courageous! Don’t tremble or be terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’” Then I finally took that step of faith and rose up and out of the ashes like the phoenix I was born to be. I went back to teaching, being in a classroom and hopefully if I’m doing my job correctly, enlightening a few change makers along the way.
Of course I still answer to anyone calling out the word, “MOM” in a grocery store. I still wear the mommy bun on my ‘I don’t care days.’ Yep I'm still working those mad resume skills and then some. I guess you can say I’ve added novice juggler to my bag of expertise too. I wear two helmets, two tittles, Mom and Mrs. O. I really have the best of both worlds honestly. I’m a sub and I love it this way. I can work when I want, and be at home when I don't. I'm on top of my ‘9-5’ life when I choose and kicking back with my family when I'm not. I’m happy, so is my family and it shows. Life isn’t perfect, but when was perfect ever really the goal? Being a working mom isn’t a punishment, it’s a joy. And you know why? Philippians 4:12-13 says it like this, “I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” This is my truth, where I stand and how I personally balance being a mom, working or not. See the real secret of being a working mom isn’t in the paycheck with a perfectly clean house or a hot, cooked and ready to eat meal on the table every night. Nope, it’s knowing what Margaret Culkin Banning already does. A mother, working or not, understands, “she never leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.”