My mother was a stay at home mom. She is college educated as a teacher, and smart as a whip, but when she began to have children she decided to stay at home and invest in us. I am forever indebted to her for her sacrifices.
Even at an early age I knew the benefit I had in my mother. If I left my lunch at home, she was at the school to delivery it. She knew my teachers and they knew her. She was president of the PTA. She always had dinner on the table. She was with us to drop us off from school and pick us up after. She was present and I was blessed.
I, like most little girls, wanted to be just like my mom. I was driven in school and set career goals but I knew eventually I wanted to be a stay at home mom. But when it came to be my turn, it just didn’t seem like a good fit for me.
I had a bit of an identity crisis as I returned from maternity leave the first day. There I was with my 3 month old baby bundle, it was like 6:30 am in the morning. I am not a 6:30 am type of girl. And here I am at this ungodly hour with a smile plaster across my face. I was gripping the steering wheel with excitement! I was ready to return to work.
I no longer had a pull to stay at home and quit my job. I honor those who do but it just didn’t seem like what was playing out in my own life.
I do full time ministry which means that I work Sundays, some Saturdays, some evenings and I am generally on call for just about anything. Don’t get me wrong, I prioritize my family, I cook dinner almost every day. I hug and kiss my babies, I teach them, walk with them, train them, pray with them and invest in them daily. But the difference is that when you may particularly expect to see a mother with her children, mine are with my husband.
There are several Saturdays that I kiss my son and daughter set them up in the bed with my half sleep husband and put on a movie to give him just a little bit more rest before they are ready to really get moving.
Sundays are a work day for me. I am either, teaching or training, planning and greeting. There are many times I can steel away for a service and nestle in next to my husband and hold my baby girl to my chest as we listen to the sermon. I wish I had more times like that but the times I do have I cherish.
Most Wednesday Nights my husband puts dinner on the table and I get home after the babies have gone to sleep. I admit sometimes I listen for them to stir so I can pick them up and rock them. I do miss them something terrible throughout the day.
When I am out and about on my job people ask me all the time “Where are your kids?” I get things like “Christen I am starting to believe you don’t have children.” I honestly feel like I need to have a shirt made that says “My kids are with my husband and they are ok!”
I get this question all the time and I wonder, “well do people ask you where your kids are at when you are at work?” Do they assume they are not safe and cared for because they are not up under you as you go from task to task?
Men and Women seem to be perplexed about how I can do what I do. My answer is always the same, by the grace of God and the consistent presence of my husband. I can’t do what I do without him bottom line and guess what he is ok with having to fill in the gaps on my behalf.
As we face a culture of fatherlessness, my kids are blessed to have a father. Not only are they blessed to have a father but they have a father that is actually willing to change diapers, cook and clean and bring the kids to church on his own. But yet somehow that is not enough!
One day after explaining to a group of people, how my husband is the key in allowing me to play my role, there is yet still the push that if I am not the one cooking on a Wednesday night, if I am not the person who is watching Saturday morning cartoons, if I am not the person who dresses them for church that somehow my family is missing out. Some how I am not fulfilling my call as a mom.
So this is my challenge and my response. My kids are ok, in fact they are more than ok. They have the love of their mother and they have the love of their father. They know what it is for their dad to comprise what others view as traditional gender roles for the sake of this children. They know what it is like to be rocked to sleep by mom and by dad. They know that my husband has cleaned up their vomit, cleaned up their poop and cleaned up their tears. They know that this whole God thing isn’t just something that belongs to mom, but that dad on his own volition and his own will leaves the house on Sunday morning long after I have gotten up. He baths them, he dresses them he cooks for them he packs extra clothes for them, he brings bottles and snacks for them. He manages to get two toddlers in and out of the car by himself and sits in church, often without me by his side, because this God thing is not just my thing, but it’s his priority and he is passing it on to my family.
So next time you wonder where in the world my children are, they are not wandering the streets. They are with their dad and they are ok.