Does anyone else wonder this sometimes, or is it just me? The biggest challenge I face in trying to be a good mom and a good employee is that I have limited time to give. Not only have I negotiated what should be a 40+ hour a week job down to 32 hours so I can have more time with my family, but I also try to avoid overtime or travel. My non-work time has already been designated for other purposes that are very important to me (and my sanity), and it is undesirable to me to compromise that time. That is not to say that it doesn’t happen, but simply to say I try to minimize it. This is contradictory to my belief that a good employee would do what it takes to get the job done. I hold myself to a really high (often unrealistic) standard, so the mother in me that keeps limiting what I can offer to an employer is going against the perfectionist/pleaser in me that wants to give it all she’s got.
I do think being a mom makes me a better employee in some ways though. The daily practice I get in patience at home makes me more understanding with the people I work with. Being a mom challenges me to manage my emotions in healthy ways and to take a moment to think before I react, which helps me make better decisions at home and at work. Motherhood also helps me keep things in perspective. Oh sure, I fail to do these things well both at home and at work sometimes, but as I become a better mother, I think at the same time I become a better employee.
So is there a happy balance to be found between motherhood and career? Not exactly. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I don’t think it ever really balances. By this I mean that I can never be everything to everybody or achieve everything I would like to. I am just one me, and something always has to give. My family needs me to bring in an income, and I believe God led me to my current job, so I cannot just quit in an effort to achieve this mystical balance. But let’s say I was in a position to just up and quit so I could take care of my family full time. Would everything magically be in balance then? I doubt it. I imagine it would be quite wonderful in many ways, but there are always trade offs.
So what’s a girl to do? Since I believe that I’m on the right path, I need to make the most of that path and of the time I have available. The rest I need to let go (yes, let go). When I’m working I will focus on doing the best job that I can. When I’m with my family I will savor that precious time together. When I take some down time I will focus on truly relaxing so that I have the strength to be my best in the many roles I play. Most importantly, I need to make time for prayer. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and there are many ways to do it, but it works best if I can really focus when I pray. I have often brushed aside focused time with God because “I didn’t have time.” When I think about it, I realize how ridiculous that is. During those periods in my life that I felt stretched so thin I especially needed to spend time with God to refresh my spirit.
Taking my own advice here, I have been praying about these frustrations with being a good employee and a good mom at the same time, and what comes to mind is: get over yourself already. I know that might sound harsh, but it’s not really. I keep obsessing over my success (or lack thereof), over whether or not people like me, or if I’m doing a good job. That sounds like a lot of me, me, me. It’s not about me! I know this, I know this, but some days I forget and get caught up in the me-mentality of this world. I’ve learned there is no happiness to be found there– just a constant series of ups and downs. God’s main command for us is to love Him and to love others, and how am I supposed to do that when I can’t get over myself?
It’s time to end my pursuit to prove that I am worthy (as in, a good employee) and to simply do my job to the best of my ability. I am going to ask God to help me do my best, and then I’m going to trust Him. I do not have to worry about my job because no matter what happens, God will provide. Trusting God should be an automatic by now. Over and over again He has shown me that I need not fear. Fortunately God waits patiently when I fret around down here. Just picture God calmly sitting, observing me spinning around in circles until I get so dizzy that I fall on the ground, and only then do I look up and see Him and realize just how silly I am being.
What I think this all comes down to is that whether being a good mom makes me a bad employee or not is neither here nor there. I have a job to do, which I will do while keeping my priorities in order. Once again I am going to refocus my ever-drifting vision back on God, and the rest will take care of itself.