Can You Chase Your Dreams & Still be a Good Mom?
For a long time now I have struggled to truly believe that I can be a great mom AND chase my own dreams, to not feel guilty or selfish for doing something outside of “just being a Mom” in these years when my kids are little. Anybody else?
For so long I’ve watched other moms/mompreneurs in social media killing it in their businesses while preaching that you can do both well, but I didn’t believe them. I assumed their kids were paying the price for them to chase their dreams, that these moms were living on their phones and neglecting the little ones who need them the most. It's hard to admit but I think it's important to unpack this issue because I'm guessing there are a lot of other moms out there - Christian moms in particular - who feel the same way.
It has taken me YEARS and a lot of coaching to realize that I thought it was best/right/ideal to stay home and be solely focused on my kids while they are little because that's what my mom did. I grew up with the best mom in the world and because she left her job to stay home with us, I think I determined THAT is what good moms do. Meanwhile, girls who grow up with moms who work probably feel super free to pursue their careers AND be moms because that's what they saw growing up. But just because God called my mom or your mom to stay home doesn't mean that's what he's calling me or you to, and vice versa.
It has also taken me years to realize that the way I viewed my mom in those years wasn't necessarily reality. In fact, one of my earliest memories was having to go to Buffalo State college with my mom for one of her classes when I didn't have school. Another early memory is her taking me to my grandpa's when I was home from sick from school so she could still go to school. It's crazy because I tell myself I would be a bad mom if I left my sick child to someone else so I could honor a work or school commitment because that's somehow means school or work means more to me, but that's not true at all and certainly wasn't true for my mom! That's just another example of holding myself to a standard I would never hold anyone else to, and telling myself that something that is perfectly acceptable for everyone else somehow isn't for me. My mom might've gone to school once when I was sick, but I also have countless memories of her taking care of me while I was home sick that almost made it hard to remember that one time she wasn't there. She was a Mom AND a student, she was BOTH, and she did both so well! Clearly, it's possible. I see others doing it well too. I simply never allowed myself the same permission to be both Mom and something more. And while I think of my mom as "just mom" because she stayed home while we were little, she also taught religion classes every Sunday night, helped run our children's ministry on Sunday mornings, was actively involved in a women's ministry and did part time work for her old boss through the years. She was never JUST Mom, I just viewed in that way I guess. I always saw her in the best possible light and I think that's how my kids view me too. When they look back on their childhood, they won't remember the one of two times I wasn't there for something. They will remember all the times I WAS.
My upbringing surely had a lot to do with the formation of my beliefs around motherhood, but so has my faith. As a Christian, I think I somehow got to thinking that there's one right way, or ideal way, to be the kind of Mom God is pleased with. I see a lot of strong Christian women who stay home with their kids, often they homeschool, are actively involved in serving at their church WITH their kids, diligently teach their kids God's Word, and seem to do these things all while loving their husbands well, making three home cooked meals a day, keeping their homes clean enough to host bible studies but of course not so clean that they aren't letting their kids be little. I know that my kids are my highest calling, outside of sharing the gospel, and doing work I don't HAVE to do in these years when their hearts and minds are being molded makes me feel like I'm not honoring the season God has me in.
But I think the biggest part of why I've struggled so much with this issue of chasing dreams while being a Mom is because since I've been little I tend to view things as right or wrong, black or white, with no shades of grey. I also have an all-or-nothing personality and am an Enneagram 1 (the perfectionist). I want everything to be done in the best, most IDEAL way, and am always holding myself to impossibly high standards as a result, standards I feel an immense amount of pressure from and randomly breakdown under the weight of. The truth is, there's no way to be a perfect Mom or a perfect anything whether you stay home with your kids, work, or do both. Perfect is reserved for Jesus alone and while it's great to strive to be and do our best, there's a big difference between out best and perfect - isn't there? I was trying so hard to be a perfect Mom for so long that I didn't even realize I was creating idols out of my children, that I was lacking joy from being too busy taking care of them to take care of me, and acting like who I was as a person and who God created me to be didn't even matter anymore now that I was a mom. I don't think it's selfish for moms to need a little something just for them while they are home all day, every day raising little kids, I acted like it would be for me, failing to realize that working from home was about so much more than that.
Eight years ago, my husband and I began our debt-free journey. We knew what God was calling us to but it felt impossible. How could we ever pay off our debt when we couldn't even pay the $100 for the course?! God made a way where there was no way, and he always does, and one of the ways He did that was calling me to start a fitness coaching business from home. That business is a huge part of how we were able to afford our first home, to send our son to a Christian preschool that way an answer to so many prayers, to go on two family vacations we otherwise couldn't have afforded, to get a zoo membership, and so much more. The second home-based business God called me to start just 15 months ago put food on the table not once but twice when my husband unexpectedly lost his job, has afforded us to start our son in a homeschool hybrid that we couldn't afford last year or without this income, a vacation of our dreams, enough money in savings to buy the camper we have always dreamed of to start traveling more and making memories together, and has allowed us to say YES to give more generously to our local church, ministries we believe in and those in need. You can't tell me that working those jobs, jobs which helped other families while helping my own, made me a bad mom. So why the heck do I still struggle with this mindset block? Honestly, I have no idea.
So today I took a huge step in the right direction. I paid someone I love and trust to watch my daughter for a few hours so I could work now that I've found myself in a season where I can't get anything done because I never don't have one or all three kids with me.
I had to fight feeling like this is wrong or bad but I did it and she had the best time! She came home all smiles, my SAHM friend got to make some extra money her family needs, and I got to pound out some work to help other women & families which filled my cup and creates more income for our family!
Momma, you CAN be both a great mom AND work. You can love your kids with all your heart and still finds purpose in other things. You can be incredibly grateful for what you have and still want more without feeling selfish, because it's God himself who is calling you to more!
Those dreams on your heart?
Those are from God.
Those kids in your life?
Those are from God too.
And what if you going after those dreams is part of HIS plans and purposes for your kids too?
What if God is going to provide for you to send your child to that private school or leave your job so you can stay home while they are little THROUGH you working hard?
Does that make you a bad mom? Of course not.
Chasing your dreams isn't going to make you a bad mom, it's going to make you a better one, one who shows her kids what is possible by her example.