Motherhood is hard, and many days it’s thankless too. I know you’ve been struggling with the idea of what you’re supposed to do with your life. Maybe you should work, especially since the kiddos are in school, but they still need you. It’s even worse when you admit how much you enjoy working. Wanting to work feels like cheating on motherhood. You can’t ignore the gnawing feeling forever. Eventually, you need to believe me when I say the emotional benefits of pursuing your passions don’t make you a bad mama. You might be an even better mama when you feel challenged and fulfilled.
Asking whether or not you should work will probably lead to more questions than answers. It’s not a simple yes or no question. You have this amazing set of gifts and I know there is something meant just for you. The real question is what you’ll do. Passion is more than just work, much more than a title or a paycheck. You’re emotionally connected to your passion and what you do.
Identifying your emotional needs
You say you’re confused about what to do next. So am I. Even though I have an idea, becoming a writer feels unconventional and awkward. (Or, maybe that’s just me.) You worry enough about the confusion, but there’s also a struggle inside you. Sometimes your education feels wasted by staying at home. You only worked full-time for a couple years before you took a break. But, other times you’re afraid to miss important milestones and stories if you go back to work. What if you’re not home for the first field trip or you miss out on Muffins with Moms? Nothing feels fully right.
Honestly, I’ve never been at a point where it felt completely right. Maybe I’m still on the journey, but I can assure you motherhood has always been a balancing act for me. Where does God want me to be and how does that fit into our family?
No matter what your passion is, we all share a few common emotional needs.
We all need to be seen, accepted, encouraged, and affirmed in our gifts and passions.
If you have a passion but no one encourages you, not only will your passion slowly fade, but your spirit will as well. We desperately want people, especially the people closest to us, to see value and purpose in our passions. When they share in our excitement, we feel validated. The simplest compliment, note, or inquiry breathes life into our dream—someone else sees us and cares.
Don’t lay this all on your people
How do we feel seen, accepted, encouraged, and affirmed?
I have bad news. Your husband and kiddos cannot meet all of your emotional needs. For sure, they are your priority and closest relationships, but it’s completely unfair to expect them to carry this load alone. No one person can fill all our needs—no one, especially not the ones who see you at your worst.
Even when your passion is your family, you still need others because you will be disappointed at times. No matter how great you cook supper each night, someone will eventually complain. You’ll forget 1 of the 47 “special” days at school, and feel guilty because another mama sent her child to school on the 100th day with more than 100 polka dots on an old t-shirt. No matter how much you run, do, and get, there will come a time when you feel invisible and undervalued.
Even if you take the leap and chase after your passions, you won’t realize the emotional benefits in your home alone. Your family probably won’t care about your dreams as much as you do. Not your husband. Not your kids. Maybe, not even your friends. They love you completely and support you, but most likely they are drawn to a different passion. Without an outlet for your passion, you’re headed for disappointment. Allow your family and friends to be your safe place and foundation, but don’t expect them to carry everything.
Building your community
You need people who understand your passion.
Imagine you didn’t have anyone to ask parenting questions. Who else is going to tell you it’s ok to let your screaming toddler throw a temper tantrum on the floor in Target instead of buying the toy they want? Or, that we’re all jealous you got to take a nap and we didn’t. We need people willing to be honest about how great and how hard motherhood is. Your passions are exactly the same.
Last fall, a writer-friend sat across from me at lunch and without warning asked, “What book are you going to write?” I mean really?! I barely allow these thoughts in my own head, and now you want me to tell you. Guess what. Telling her felt freeing. She understood my thoughts, fears, and dreams. Her experience brought wisdom and guidance.
Fast forward 6 months and we’ve talked more about writing. But, I go back to our lunch conversation and the note she sent a few weeks later. She cared enough to acknowledge my passion, show me its value, and encourage me to continue.
No matter what you choose, choose community. Find the place and people where your passions are valued and encouraged. There you’ll be seen, accepted, encouraged, and affirmed.
A little warning
Before you start running towards your passions, you need to remember this warning.
Life will always be a balancing act. If you’re not careful, your emotions can lead you astray and before you realize, your priorities turn upside down. Don’t allow the emotional high of work steal the joy of your family. Being a workaholic doesn’t erase your need to be present in your home.
Even though this is your passion. It’s not all about you. Every decision you make must be linked to God’s will for your life and your family. If you lose sight of your guide, you’ll lose your direction.
Remember, you were created to do great things as a wife, mama, and woman.
We’re taking a deep dive into our work as mamas. How work fulfills our emotional needs is question #2. Read more about the bigger questions working mamas need to ask and what what work really means to us. Next week we’ll look at your unique gifts and talents.
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