This is one of the lyrics I love in Brittney’s song “you want a piece of me?” partly because as a working mom, I feel like everyone wants a piece of me, yet I enjoy working and being a mom! Any other mama’s feel like this? It’s a complex choice that is simultaneously rewarding and exhausting.
This past weekend Dave and I helped to lead a conference called Compelling for 350 college students with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We were both directing seminars & so we had a lot of work to do before the conference and during the conference. Though the work was challenging, the more difficult piece was finding childcare for our 2.5 year old son, Reuben. Because InterVarsity is a family-friendly organization for the most part, we’re able to bring Reuben to conferences like these provided we find care for him when we are leading sessions. Though I was leading entirely new content in a seminar called “evangelawesome” with a staff team of mostly volunteers I had never met and staff I’ve never worked directly with it was far more stressful making phone call after phone call to find someone to watch Reuben. I can deal with a talk that bombs. I am immobilized if I have to watch a toddler and give a talk at the same time- it just doesn’t work. Thankfully, my sweet cousins agreed to watch him which was great because they live 10 minutes away from the conference center we were at! It was really fun getting to know them better too.
The longer I am a working mom the more I think about how I (culture, we) try and compartmentalize our lives and see kids and work as mutually exclusive. For many years I was terrified of having kids because I thought it would mean that I’d have to give up a job I loved. Finally as I was ranting to some older women on staff with kids about my fears of becoming a mom, one of them looked at me with a look of pity on her face and said “why do you think the Lord wants to harm you?” I was dumbstruck and ashamed. Because I was so wrapped up in how I thought my life should go, I didn’t even think to pray and ask God how he might want to use children to bless me, bless others and help me to trust him more. I thought of having kids as more of a speedbump in my career as opposed to a way that my life would become more rich (albeit busy!).
This weekend I saw God do some amazing things- give students boldness to talk to their friends about Jesus without sounding like a salesman, to share vulnerably about how he’s shaped their lives- even take risks to share a story about life transformation with other students who were attending the conference to learn about Jesus. I rewarded these brave volunteers with “shades of awesomeness” for their risk taking 🙂
But one of the coolest things that had nothing to do with students was how I was able to reflect on the ways God has changed my attitude about being a mom & having kids since Reuben has been born. This weekend it was so much fun to see Reuben dancing to the worship music, to wake up to his chattering in the hotel room even though we were both exhausted from long days of ministry, to realize that he doesn’t care if I do an amazing job leading my sessions or completely fail- he loves me because I’m his mama. I think this has been one of the most significant ways God has helped me to be reminded that my value doesn’t come from what I can do- it comes from who I am. Though others struggle with finding their worth in being a mother, for me it’s been a reminder that I’m loved for who I am.
Now that Reuben is 2.5, people have been asking us “so, when are you going to pop out a few more babies?” I don’t really know if or when, but I do know that right now I’m enjoying both working and being a mom to Reuben. I know that I can continue to trust God with both my career and with being a mama if it’s just Reuben or other kids that God may bring into our family. While I may feel like everyone wants a piece of me, God is able to provide the strength, passion and care to serve in all the ways he’s called me. And that’s about all the parenting insight from Britney that I’ll take.