What I Never Knew About Being A Working Mom




I am a mother who works. I didn’t intend to end up this way, but I didn’t avoid it, either. I never spent a lot of time deciding whether I should stay at home exclusively or split my time between chasing little kids at home and caring for sick ones in the hospital. Yet that is where I find myself, and I’m learning more about motherhood through my work than I ever realized.

I was lucky to find my way into the nursing profession, mostly as a skill to use working overseas. While my husband and I worked in Cambodia with a nonprofit for three years, we decided to have a go at parenting. We gave birth to our son, and I stayed home with him for the next eight months, until we moved back to the States. There really wasn’t another option. Daycare doesn’t exist in Cambodia, and I wanted those precious first months with him.





But when we settled back into Kansas City, I had to return to work to keep my nursing license active. And in fact, I wanted to work. I missed the cerebral stimulation and the challenges of healthcare. I jumped back into the workforce when my son was ten months old, patching together a mix of friends and family and babysitters to care for my son.

The first thing I learned about being a working mom is that it is harder than you ever realize. People told me it was challenging to balance work and family life. I read blogs online about how to keep it all together. But no one can really prepare you for the feeling of exhaustion when you drag yourself through the front door and realize you have at least 3 hours before bedtime with a baby who desperately needs your energy and attention. Being with my son after work was a balm to my soul and also completely draining.

Motherhood itself is hard, period, whether you work outside the home or have a home business or don’t do anything but take care of children. It is challenging and all-consuming work. And I also learned I can’t compare my experience or situation with anyone else’s, working or not. I looked at other women who worked more hours than I did and still had time for church commitments, community groups, and creative pursuits, while raising a family. I wondered, Why am I struggling so much? If she can do it, I should too!

Comparison is a beast that will ruin motherhood for you. As working moms, we have to move past comparing ourselves with others and feeling guilty for what we do or don’t do. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, as I don’t like admitting I can’t do it all. But no one else’s family can tell you what makes your family thrive. No one else can tell you exactly how many hours you should work or what kind of work you should pursue. Those things are constantly evolving factors in making decisions that help your family care for and love each other well. We can hear others’ experiences and take the wisdom they’ve learned and apply it to our situations. But in the end, we have to decide what is best for our families, not anyone else.

When we are able to let go of comparison, we’ll also learn what it means to let go of mommy guilt. Mommy guilt exists regardless of your working status. I often felt I was being a “less-than-good” mother by using my skills and talents outside of our home. I felt guilty for enjoying work so much, since it took me away from my son. But if I stayed home exclusively, I would miss work and long to be there - and feel guilty for having those desires. Being a good mother has less to do with our external actions (although those are very important) and more to do with the motivations of our hearts. Why do we want to work? (And why do we stay home?) Are we building our own kingdoms and striving to prove ourselves? Or is it flowing from an identity firmly rooted in Jesus’ work for us and how he wants us to impact our world?

I wrote about this struggle a bit on Facebook, and a friend messaged me some powerful words. Am I feeling guilt or conviction? Guilt often comes from others telling us what we should do and how we don’t measure up to an ideal. Conviction comes from the Lord working on our hearts, speaking his Word to us, showing us our need for repentance and for the change only Jesus can bring. When I look at the cross, I see the horrific reality of my sin, and I know I can’t be a perfect mom. This is why Jesus gave up his life for me - to replace my sin with his perfection. And there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus - including working moms. There is only mercy for sinners and grace to change.

I can talk a lot about the practical things working motherhood have taught me - scheduling, meal planning, communication techniques with my husband. But my experience has been much deeper than that. It has taught me to admit I can't do it all, even if that means cutting back on my hours at work. It has taught me how deadly comparison is, and how my family can never be compared to anyone else’s. And it’s shown me how much I need Jesus to make me into a good mom.

I can’t tell you whether or not being a working mom is ok for you. But I can tell you that whatever path God takes you on, he will equip yo, strengthen you, and give you whatever you need to succeed according to his terms (not the world’s). And if being a working mom is part of that - welcome on board. You’re in good company.











Whitney is a tea-drinking, extroverted, travel-addicted nurse who recently moved back to Kansas City, USA after three years in Cambodia with her husband and son. She blogs at Journey Mercies about pursuing Jesus, loving people, living justly, and exploring the world. You can follow her travels and thoughts on Instagram and Twitter.


All The Things I Never Knew - A Guest Post Series | Through Clouded Glass
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Trish at Birdhouse Books said...

This is a wonderful post! I live in an urban area and make an effort to get to know my neighbors. This is a pretty friendly neighborhood, so it has been an easy process.

Terumi Pong said...

Inspiring post! Thank you for sharing!

Rebekah Anne said...

I love this view point, especially the difference in guilt and conviction. I'm a working mom but I wish I could be a stay-at-home mom. Luckily, I get to work from home, which is a huge blessing to me because I know that if I was working outside the home I would be so miserable. Thanks for this new perspective on guilt!

Dana Brillante-Peller said...

I worked full time until my boys were 10 and 8. I now work from home and honestly think I was more organized when I worked outside of the house.

Diana Elle said...

being a working mom is hard, when my daughter was a baby I was working part time, so it wasn't too bad. but it is tough for a lot of moms!

Rebecca VanDeMark said...

This is WONDERFUL. I honestly always look forward to your posts- they are beautifully written, have so much practical and helpful tips, and are simply awesome. Thank you for sharing this!! LOVED this!

Kristyn said...

What a beautiful sentiment. Thank you for this reminder.

Becky @ bybmg said...

This post is good for my soul. Working is hard. I feel lucky that I'm a teacher so I get summers off, but the school year is so hard to come home after working with kids to be with kids.

Rebecca Jalernpan said...

What a great post! I love the idea of getting your neighbors together for a random holiday. How fun, can't wait until we are in a neighborhood!

Lauren English said...

I love the vulnerability here. I'm hoping to stay home with our little one after he arrives this spring but I've gone back and forth a little! It's such a hard balance of wanting (and sometimes needing) to work and do something you're passionate about that also earns a little money, but also wanting to spend time with the kiddos! You are rocking it, mama. Thanks for sharing this heartfelt and honest post!

Katie Brooks said...

Great post. I am a working mom too. And yes it is so hard! But manageable. I think working part time would be ideal for me but it's not in the cards so I make the best of it!

Ashley Servis said...

I don't know my neighbors that well, but this makes me inspired

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

I'm still waiting to work part time - but the amazing thing is that God keeps giving me what I need to thrive where I'm at. Keep at it!

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement! I hope you have clarity about what path you and your family are supposed to walk. Sometimes you don't know until the deadline arrives :)

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

I have so much respect for you and my other teacher friends - your hours are long and your work challenging - but so absolutely vital - especially for us working moms who want to know our kids are being invested in by other women :)

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

I agree. :)

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

Yes, I don't know how I would do if I worked from home! I like having clear separation between work and home life - but I do think it's a pretty great opportunity for a lot of women to be able to stay home and do both.

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

You're welcome! When my friend shared that, it really encouraged me. I'm glad I can pass it on!

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

Thank you!

Callie Nicole said...

Ah, thank you Rebecca! This comment made my day. :-)

Callie Nicole said...

That is a blessing to be in a friendly neighborhood!

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