Maybe it’s just me, but in the rare quiet moments when I’m alone with my thoughts I wonder…
Am I doing a good thing by working?
From my conversations with working dads I don’t sense the same existential struggle. They grew up expecting to work, and there are no voices telling them that once they become dads they shouldn’t. Not in the same way the question still lingers, even in 2018, for moms.
But I wonder this all the time. I see the benefits: I’m pursuing my passion and putting my skills (which are overall more business-like than domestic-like) to use. I’m making an income that helps the family financially. I’m showing my girls a path they can choose. My kids are socialized at daycare from a young age in a positive, diverse environment and benefiting from quality early education. Aubrey is so ready for Kindergarten.
Yet I wonder about the cons… things seem ok right now, but every time my eldest has a temper tantrum or I arrive to pick up the baby and she’s crying I think (unfairly to myself, but I can’t help it) – this is because I work outside the home. My kids would be more _______ (fill in the blank) if I were home and more engaged. If they watched less videos and made more crafts. If we ate hot breakfasts and not kid’s Clif bars and Go Go Squeeze every morning. If we just had more hours together.
There is also a layer of religious angst. Having grown up in a more conservative tradition, there is a nagging critic in my head that says this is not my place. That the path is hard because I’m in the wrong lane. I attend more progressive churches these days, but to some degree the message is still there, just more subtle. Even in one church with a working mom female pastor, their women’s ministry meetings happen mid-morning on work days. The pastor is a working mom, but she seems to be an outlier and often shares her justification for working from the pulpit. I wonder if she shares my insecurities in her quiet moments.
I’ve studied scripture on this topic and was surprised at what I found: women in the Bible largely worked. Even the Proverbs 31 “ideal wife” passage… she has like multiple jobs. Operations, retail, trading, real estate, teaching, philanthropy… both in and outside of the home.
Other women hold some big jobs in the Old Testament, from prophetess to judge (Deborah, Book of Judges). In the New Testament there is Priscilla, Lydia, and Phoebe to name a few. And when I look at the imagery of the yolk of Christ and God as plowman of a sometimes “stiff necked” people, I see agrarian images about working animals. God has jobs for us to do.
Maybe it’s because I’ve come of age in a time of such turmoil. The world is broken and people are suffering. With so many complex challenges bearing down on our country, I feel compelled to do my part to help turn it around. Jesus says to his followers in Matthew 9:37b-38: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
So I think it through, pray about it, and keep going one day at a time – albeit still in a degree of uncertainty. That is sometimes the hardest part, wondering if it’s right… if I’ll be glad with my choices at the end when I look back. I know there have already been sacrifices, but as my camp counselor in college liked to say, “nothing worth doing is easy.”
Or as my favorite singer Jenn Bostic puts it, “But I’ll keep circling this mountain that stands between where I am and the stars, ‘Cause dreaming was never meant to be for the faint of heart.”