I saw a blog headline on my Facebook page the other day that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. “It’s Not My Turn,” it said, along with a picture of a young mom surrounded by several very cute, smiling children.
I didn’t read the blog. I have no idea what it said or what it actually about. So if you did see it and read it and find that what I’m going to say has nothing to do with that actual blog post, don’t shoot me. It was just the headline that acted as the catalyst for this.
I’ve read many “young mom” posts over the last few years. Now you might be wondering why, since I am by no means a young mom. But I have daughters-in-law who are, and so I’m interested in young mom life. Because, let me tell you, young mom life today is waaaaaay different than it was when I was actually one of them.
This is what I find to be true about so many YM blog posts: There’s not a lot of moderation in them. They seem to be either all about the importance of self-care or all about kid care. There seems to be a dearth of good posts about how to moderate the two.
I see posts that instruct moms how to nurture themselves, give themselves grace, make space for their own lives in the midst of the chaos of family – don’t feel guilty, don’t neglect yourself, you’re important, you do all the things, you deserve all the things etc. etc. And I’m not saying that’s not true.
But then the other blogs tell these same moms you have to nurture those babies. They grow up so fast! They need you so much, you have to be here, you have to make their childhood a wonderful thing for them, you have teach them and read to them and play with them and care for them and snuggle with them and and and and. And I’m not saying that’s not true, either.
I’m saying there has to be some balance.
So when I saw that headline – It’s Not My Turn – something inside me rebelled. I imagined another blog about the importance of you moms setting aside your ambitions, your dreams, your needs at this crucial time in your children’s lives to care and nurture them. It’s their turn. They’re only little for a short time; don’t squander that on your selfish pursuits. Children need your focus; children need your support, your attention, your everything.
Please don’t get me wrong. I do not advocate child neglect. I do not advocate having children at all if you want a lifestyle of footloose and fancy free. Children need focus. Children need support. Children need attention. And they are little for such a short time.
But there’s a balance. There has to be a balance. Because in almost every case, the years that your children are growing up will be the same years that you are in the very prime of your life – your 20’s through your 40’s. Or maybe these days it’s 30’s through 50’s, but still – prime years!
When I was young, the majority of my friends, and the majority of women in my church who had children, were stay-at-home moms. So when I had my babies, I quit my job and stayed home.
But I loved my job. I missed my job. And I felt really guilty about that because wasn’t I supposed to want to stay home with my kids? Well, I DID want to stay home with my kids. But still…I missed my job.
When my younger son started school, I went back to work. That meant after-school daycare for both the boys, and some frantic dashes trying to get them picked up on time when I had to work late. And I felt guilty a lot because all the women’s events and ministries at church were held on weekdays under the assumption that women were available to attend because, duh, stay-at-home moms.
It was a lose/lose. When I stayed at home and missed working, I felt guilty. When I went to work and wasn’t what I thought Christian moms were supposed to be, I felt guilty.
Until I decided not to feel guilty. Until I looked at my boys and saw that they were doing fine. They were happy. We managed to get them into whatever sports or scouts or whatever they wanted to get into. We managed to find a way to be all the things without my having to be only half the thing I needed to be.
Okay, maybe not all the things. Maybe we said no to some things. Maybe they didn’t get to do Every. Single. Thing.
But was that bad? No. I don’t believe it was. Because starting at five, six, seven years old, the boys learned that the entire universe did not revolve around them. That they were two pieces in a four-part puzzle, and the puzzle was only complete if all four parts were complete. That every part of the puzzle had to make some sacrifices at some point in order for everything to fit together.
These boys are adults now. They each have their own families, and while they aren’t perfect (yes I said that; I acknowledge I did not raise perfect children), I can see them raising their children well. I can see them teaching their children the same lessons, even if they don’t know it: That the family is a puzzle, and the pieces all need to fit together, work together, sacrifice together to make the puzzle whole.
So all you young women out there, when you read those blogs, try to remember – moderation is the key to everything. Sacrifice for your kids, yes, absolutely, because they are your sunshine. In moderation. And have them sacrifice for you, too, in moderation, so that they learn what astronomy has taught us – no matter how bright and beautiful it is, the sun is not the center of the universe.