When I think of the phrase “the perfect mom,” I think of the hit show in the 1950’s Leave it to Beaver. It’s one of my dad’s all-time favorite shows that he still watches to this day. I wonder what Barbara Billingsley, the actress that plays the part of the mom, would say about being a perfect mom today. I hope she would say that great mothers care more about raising children to be successful adults and allow everything else to come second to that. New moms often over analyze each and every decision, worrying about the short-term and long-term impact it has on our children. For example, is was very important to me that Carson not have any soda of any kind and, to this day, he still has not. Or how about the decision to go back to work or to stay at home with your baby after they are born?
After getting Carson out of the NICU and bringing Carson home for a couple of months, Josh and I decided that I would stay home to care for our son. This was one of the hardest choices that I have had to make as a new mom. In the years leading up to this decision, Josh and I had started a new nonprofit organization. While the board knew that we were in the process of adopting, we never imagined that I would choose to step down as the executive director and stay home to raise our son. It was a very hard decision for me to make, especially since I hadn’t even discussed the possibility with our board of directors. That might have been poor leadership on my part, but I had truly thought I could do it all. In the end, it just wasn’t realistic.
While the board was very happy for Josh and I when we adopted Carson, the reality was soon realized and I stepped down. The truth is, I knew that our new organization wouldn’t be able to survive my leaving and after all the blood, sweat and tears I had poured out to start Camp Bethesda, it was a hard pill to swallow. When I finally made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I was so torn between my dream of starting a camp and my family responsibilities. I vividly remember one tear-filled night in particular when I held Carson while standing in his dark room. I didn’t want to make this tough decision, but I was at a fork in the road and it had to be done.
How do you know when to step back in your career and love your family well? When I was a little girl, my mom worked full-time, not out of choice but out of necessity for our family. However, at the same time young girls were being told that they could do it all – have a family and a successful career. While I think woman can work out of the home, there is certainly a sacrifice that is made. Many if not most of the time kids are put into a preschool center or another family member has to watch them. If your choice is to be a stay-at-home mom, you put a pause on your career temporarily, or sometimes, permanently. My moms I know have wanted to be stay-at-home moms since they were young girls. But for many women, myself included, this decision did not come as an easy one. For those women, I want to say, you are making the right choice for your family. We as women should be encouraging and not judging the decisions that other moms are making for their families and their careers.
When I was in the midst of the difficult decision of working or staying at home, the Lord did not give me the answer that I was looking for. However, once the decision was made it felt like a ton of bricks was lifted from my shoulders. I was so happy that my husband wanted me home with our son but there are still days that I need time away from it all to appreciate this time in my life.
In April 2016, Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum released a Christian album with her family. On that album was a song that had a great impact on me called “Thy Will.” The first few lyrics are:
I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow, I ended up here
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
This song had an emotional tie with Hillary as her family was dealing with their own family grief. But this song had a different meaning to me. This was what my soul need to hear during the time I was deciding what I needed to do. I love how she put the first two lines so elegant and at the same time it’s right to the point. I could relate – I was so confused in this moment of my life. God had spoken so clearly to me about starting Camp Bethesda while in college but now Carson needed me more. My family needed me more.
Do I miss it? Absolutely! Well, yes and no at the same time, actually. However, I do not regret for one single moment being a full-time mom to Carson.
Just the other day Josh and I had a conversation about how lonely my role in my family often is. It’s so easy to get caught up in your kid’s life that you find you don’t have a moment for yourself.
If you are thinking what you should do, can I give you some advice? Please focus on what you feel your children need from you. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. You have permission to not be that perfect mom. Quite feeling like you’re a failure as a mom because most definitely are not. We women must stop judging one another and instead, help each other through motherhood.
Whether you choose to stay at home or continue working, as long as you focus on what your kids need and their future success, you’re going to be a great mom.