Maybe you don’t see her weary eyes, hidden by a smile that attempts to cover the exhaustion and guilt she feels over her choices. Maybe you don’t see her insecurity because her impressive résumé covers what is really happening on the inside.
You might miss her weariness because she looks so put together. She is successful. She is busy. She is a mom with a growing career. And she wonders where her place is.
Maybe you don’t see it, but no amount of career success can account for the barrage of fears and questions burning in her soul.
Am I doing enough? Are my kids missing out? How can I grow spiritually when I can’t find a spare moment in my day? Is this God’s best for me?
We over-corrected and left out working moms.
In an attempt to value the often culturally undervalued work that stay-at-home moms do, we’ve swung the pendulum too far. We’ve missed another group of women far more underserved in our churches—working moms.
Perhaps we are afraid that if we speak too directly to her job, we might diminish her mothering work. Perhaps we are afraid that moms who stay home might be offended by the praise of women who choose something different. Perhaps we are afraid that in a culture that places little value on marriage and family, encouraging the mom who works outside the home will mean we have abandoned this cause.
But perhaps we are missing the point.
We are pendulum swingers, quick to move in the opposite direction of culture lest we be accused of capitulation. But what if we are asking some of our own community to duck and cover while our pendulum passes them on its way to the other side? Are we inadvertently missing an opportunity for ministry and community for a significant portion of women because we are trying to play a two-sided game? The diversity of personality and life circumstances are far too vast to fit into the dichotomy of working and stay-at-home moms.
Let’s get back to work—all of us.
We are all workers by nature. From the beginning of creation, God created his people to work. Men and women were given the task of ruling and reigning over God’s creation (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). Work is good. It’s part of being created in the image of God. It’s one of the things we were created for.
All of our discussions surrounding work start here. Some women work in the home primarily. Some women work outside of the home primarily. But all of us are working.
Become a cheerleader, not a soldier.
The “mommy wars” have left few untouched. The working mom feels the effects of this war in the silent judgment over her choices, over the lack of support in her community, and the exhaustion that never leaves. But Christians are not soldiers, waging battle against one another. We are cheerleaders, supporting the good work that God is doing in one another.
We support rather than judge. Of course, there is a time to speak truth, but never at the expense of love.
How much community have we lost because we have lived in wartime mode trying to justify our existence in our work? We sling bombs across the motherhood battlefield, when instead we could seek to understand the women around us, encourage the women around us, and cheer them on in their work.
The woman at home is not letting down the team any more than the woman at the office is a mom fail. When we put down our fear induced weapons of war, we understand that we really aren’t that different from one another. A working mom needs to know she has a family, a community, a team of people who love her and support her. She likely feels judgment all on her own.
Serving working and stay-at-home moms makes us different.
Work is for God’s glory, not our own, so the mom who works outside the home works for God’s glory, as does the mom who stays home. While the world might be waged in the battle of working moms and stay-at-home moms, Christians are not.
Christians look different from the rest when they ask the questions: how do we serve working moms in their unique seasons and challenges? Instead of swinging the pendulum too far in praise of stay-at-home moms, we meet in the middle. We don’t put one against the other. We cheer one another on. We lean into our differences and unique seasons of life, rather than retreat in fear over one who is not like us.
Christians are a set-apart people. We look different than the world around us in our speech, in our actions, and in how we live our lives. Yet, we have everything in common, even when all outside circumstances say otherwise. There is no place for war among people who have been saved by Christ.
Cover image by Mike Wilson.
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