Last week was my first full week of working again since I left on maternity leave. In the weeks leading up to the day, I felt that familiar sinking feeling in my gut. I knew I had to leave my baby with another person. I knew that my emotions may be okay one instant and then surprise me another. I knew I’d face doubt again on whether I was making the right decision for my family. I knew I would have to juggle more than I have ever juggled, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for that yet.
And even though I had been through this same experience before, and even though I love my job and the people I work with – it still was a mental, physical, and emotional battle I had to prepare for. I had to seek God and ask him for the peace only he could give.
So here are some reminders I made (mostly for myself) in case you are gearing up to go back to work after maternity leave, or you just dropped off your child and felt that all-too-familiar feeling return from out of nowhere.
- It hurts because it’s not the way God designed it. I promise I’m not trying to guilt you about your decision to work- there is enough of that already. But rest easy knowing your heart feels the impact of a broken world. You feel sad because this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. God knows that pain all too well. Which leads to the second reminder.
- God knows how it feels. Remember that God entrusted his only son to TEENAGERS. How wild is that? I’m sure you are leaving your child with people considered more qualified than Mary and Joseph. And while that may not make it any easier, it should comfort you knowing that the same feelings you have about leaving your child he’s also felt. Feel comfort that the sadness you feel has been experienced by God himself.
- There is no “right” decision. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if you are making the right decision in deciding to work, and even after you made the decision you may be second guessing yourself on whether it was the right one. What a relief to know that God doesn’t look at moms who decide to stay at home any different from ones that decide to work. One group isn’t more holy than the other – we all are equal in his eyes. And while you should always consider whether you are yielding to the direction of God in your life, you should also be free from feeling like you could ever make a “bad decision”. This is because if you follow God, you know he has this amazing ability of turning just about any scenario into purposeful, meaningful mission fields. The status of WAHM, SAHM, or something in between doesn’t change his power to work in your life, and through the area that he has placed you. Release yourself from the pressure to get this exactly right. Odds are, you’ll be wrestling with this for your entire life.
- Your children are ultimately in God’s hands. Just as the decision to stay at home or work doesn’t make you any more “Christian”, your children’s future is ultimately in God’s hands regardless of your decision. Yes, there are things you can do and should do to show your children Christ. Yes, you are still highly influential and should spend as much time and attention laboring for them as you possibly can. But realize that whether you spend 24/7 with your children or 2-4 hours with them each day – you still aren’t ultimately in control of the overall projection of their life. God loves your children more than you do, and their future is ultimately in his hands.
- There is work for you where you are. Continue to ask God to help you see the purpose in where he has placed you. Look at all the people you come into contact with: from coworkers, to daycare teachers, to other parents of the kids that your children become friends with. This is orchestrated and designed by God even if you can’t always see it.
Finally, the scriptures that helped comfort me in this process:
- Philippians 4:6: The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
- John 13:7: For now you do not realize what I am doing. But later, you will understand.
- Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.
- Romans 8:26: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
- 1 Peter 5:6-7: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of god so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
And words of advice from very wise women in my life:
- On your first week (s) back – don’t try to prove anything. Just ease in, you’ll eventually feel normal again.
- God is holding your right hand and will get you through the day. Put your hair elastic or something on your hand to remind you.
- It gets easier.