Guest Post by Susan Elliott, blogger @ Becoming Women of Virtue.
For nearly a year I battled the daily workforce. Everyday varied greatly. Some days I worked early in the morning, others I worked late into the night. Sometimes those shifts even followed each other. There were even weeks around the Christmas holidays that I worked more than 50 hours in a week between two jobs. Sometimes I’d come home so physically and mentally exhausted that I’d crash into bed, or fall asleep where I was sitting on the couch.
I was a good employee; in fact, I was promoted after working only three months to Assistant Manager. The main job I worked was in fashion, and I loved getting new merchandise in every Tuesday. I’d fold, hang and prep clothes so that they looked their best in the store, all the while thinking about the ever growing pile of laundry in my laundry room floor.
Financial hardship from a move (to do stateside mission work) was what threw me into the work force to start with. Late August 2012 we sold most of our possessions, filled a U-Haul truck (which was unloaded directly into storage), and moved our three teenagers 20-plus hours from our home in South Texas to a small travel trailer in Southwestern Virginia. We were thankful for the accommodations, even though the electricity was spotty, there was no running water, and the toilet was a bucket. We lived there for about six weeks.
Everything was so much more expensive in Virginia than it had been in Texas. Housing was outrageous, and really hard to get. I now know why so many people are homeless. Who has an extra $3,000 lying around to rent a house? So, with a new adventure before us, no real place to live and a great need for extra income, I had to find a job.
I didn’t think twice about stepping up to help. I’ve always wanted to be like the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31:10-31, that woman was a hard worker, so I put her example before my eyes and plodded along my course. If only life where that easy, and I had the Virtuous Woman’s servants.
I loved my job. I loved making people feel good about themselves, helping them to leave the store with a smile and a new outlook on life. I can’t even tell you how many women I taught that beauty comes from the inside, and their clothing choices were only an outward manifestation of that beauty. Not the cause. But, no matter how much I loved my job, it never fulfilled my needs. And there were times it even got in my way.
I’d always wanted to speak on a Ladies Day. I’ve lead singing at one before. I’ve taught many Bible classes, but speaking on a lectureship or ladies seminar has always been a dream of mine. And, last year, while I was working, I was invited to speak on two. The problem was, it didn’t matter how much I intended to get a cd out to the congregations that had invited me, I never had the time. Soon, they quit inviting.
While I was working everything weighed on my mind. I felt like I’d been stretched until nothing was left. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was happy to help out. But, between home schooling, teaching classes at co-op, soccer games, Girl Scouts, blogging, teaching Bible classes, and attending church events my time slipped away from me. I won’t even mention how many of these things I had to miss because of work. After months of juggling, I realized I couldn’t keep up the pace. Something had to change.
I still remember the day my husband and I sat down and studied our finances. They were bleak. I was bringing in about an extra thousand dollars a month and we were still struggling. Of course while I was working, my family of five ate out nearly every night of the week, sometimes twice a day. Please don’t think me lazy. I developed plantar fasciitis in both of my feet, and was having horrible hip and back pain. I could barely make it up the stairs and into the house by the end of the work day. Although, all day long I had a huge smile on my face—couldn’t let the customer see.
The truth was, I didn’t feel like cooking, and my husband was already working at a minimum of 45 hours a week with his day job, and countless other hours in his preaching job. Neither of us wanted to mess with cooking, so eating out seemed the best option. During those months our refrigerator was pretty empty. There’s no need for groceries if you eat out all the time. From studying our finances we also discovered that there were other expenses that were hiking up our monthly bills, too. And the funny thing was they almost all pertained to my working.
So, we prayed. We prayed a lot. Nearly $500 a month of my check was being spent on things that pertained to my work life, but that still left about $500 we were using on bills. We had some tough decisions to make, but we worked through them, and I am happy to say that I am at home again, trying to be a mom. Don’t get me wrong. Things are super tight. Sometimes we just have to use the Dave Ramsey approach, and just admit there are things that are below the line this pay check. My teens become very disgruntled when there is cell service disruption—but, we all learn to deal.
Unfortunately, being a full-time mom again is a lot tougher than I remember. I never really stopped being a mom during the time I worked, but I can see how my priorities had shifted. For months I was too tired, or in too much pain to pay attention to much of anything. Now, I am trying to rebuild my relationships with my children and my husband. I know that they understood why I had to work and why I didn’t have time to do the things that I used to do, but it still is a point of pain, at least for me, in retrospect.
I also know that I can’t be the only mom who has to face these things. Many people have to deal with so much, and are way too embarrassed to admit it, so they go on crying themselves to sleep, or watching their families fall apart. I didn’t want that to be me, so I determined to figure out a way to become a mom again, not just to help me, but other women in my situation or ones similar to it. I know I don’t have all the answers, but at least this is a start.
How to Become a Mom Again
Pray. ..I Thessalonians 5:17. We must pray without ceasing. God hears our prayers, and answers them. Give it over to God in prayer. Sometimes we need to remember we just have to lay it all out there. If we acknowledge our problems, we can face them, and overcome them. (I John 5:14, 15, I Corinthians 10:13).
Study…II Timothy 2:15. Knowledge is power, and the only way to know God’s word and how to apply it to our lives is through study.
Listen…James 1:19. We must be quick to hear. Others need us. We should always take time to listen to those around us, every day. A good mother is a good listener.
Engage…James 4:14. Don’t let your child’s life pass you by. Be a part of it. Life is but a vapor and only a little while. Play, sing, create with your children so they grow the memories that will sustain them a lifetime. (This is my son’s Senior year, and I don’t want to miss a thing.)
Teach…Deuteronomy 4:9. If we neglect teaching our children God’s word, what kind of life are we giving them? We should also instruct them in things they are good at so we can help them grow into adult hood (Proverbs 22:6). There are many children who become adults never having dreamed about what they would become or what they would do with their lives. Let them dream, and encourage them.
Give…Psalm 127:3-5. Children are a blessing. They are a true gift from God. We must give of our time so that they truly know how important they are to us and to God. There is no greater influence on a child than the person who spends the most time with him. Hopefully, we can say that person is us.
Work…Proverbs 31:10-31. We must do the work of a mom. We are responsible for our homes (Titus 2:5). We must do our work and not shirk our responsibilities. Everyone has a job to do, and doing ours cheerfully will help children to want to fulfill their roles in the family and even the church as they grow older.
Love…I John 4:7-8. We must love each other as God loves us. Showing our children our love goes a long way in their lives. We can tell them we love them, and we should, but showing them our love is the most important thing a mom can do.
We can all be great moms whether we only work inside the home, or if we work outside the home as well. It’s my hope that no matter what kind of job you have as a mom that you are being the best mom you can be. Let’s not judge the women who stay at home to raise children, or cast stones at those who have to go to work. Let’s just reach out with a helping hand and unite so that we can be the best moms possible, and raise the best godliest children we can. I’ll be praying for you, and would love for you to pray for me, too.
Today’s Guest Writer is Susan Elliott from Becoming Women of Virtue.
Susan Elliott thinks that blogging is a great way to reach out to people she wouldn’t otherwise have contact with. She says, ” I feel that sharing God’s word through my blog is a way for me to actively participate in world-wide evangelism, share what I’ve learned with others, and let other women know that they are not alone. We all struggle, and we can all overcome.” You can find more of Susan’s writing on her blog Becoming Women of Virtue.
She is a 1996 graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching Student Wives Program, and has an Associate’s Degree in General Studies from Northwest Arkansas Community College. Susan has worked as a freelance writer for 16 years, and loves writing and studying her Bible. Her articles have appeared in Christian Woman Magazine, and Virtuous. Susan has three children and is married to her best friend, Larry. She enjoys teaching ladies’ Bible classes, classes for teen girls, and public speaking. She is currently working on a devotional study guide covering II Timothy.