Getting it Backwards
The words cut like a knife. And I asked my husband to repeat his comment three times to make sure I heard him right.
I’d told him I was getting a babysitter the next day because I had a radio interview, novel galleys to read, and important emails to answer. “If it was only an 15-minute radio interview I could have Alyssa sit on Grandma’s bed with Grandma, but I need to do something with her since I’ll be on the phone for an hour.”
“Don’t you have that backwards?” he said.
“I said, ‘Don’t you have that backwards?’” he repeated.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” I said again. The truth was, I knew what he was saying, but I was hoping he meant something different.
“Don’t you have that backwards? Instead of saying ‘I have a radio interview, and I need to find something to do with Alyssa,’ shouldn’t it be, ‘I have Alyssa, so I need to figure out this radio interview.’”
The tears came quick, hot, fresh. My chest tightened and my throat grew thick. Suddenly, it wasn’t about a radio interview or getting a babysitter for half of a day. The message coming from my husband’s mouth was clear: “You don’t have your priorities in order. You’re putting work before our 2-year-old daughter—before our family.”
Those Critical Voices
I cried myself to sleep that night, but not right away. Before that, I gave ample time for the voices of doom to fill my head. The voices that are just below the surface at any time:
You have been working a lot.
Why is a radio show so important anyways?
Do you want your daughter to know you as the “just-one-more-minute-and-I’ll-help-you” Mommy
If your husband is saying something, it really must be a problem.
It’s easy for the words to spiral from there.
You’re a bad mom.
You’re a bad wife.
Who do you think you are writing books and blogs and giving others advice?
Who do you think you are?
The Voices of Truth
Yet every now and then rays of light dared to try to poke their way in.
You spent hours with your daughter today, reading, dancing, playing with toys. You spend hours with her every day doing that.
She spends more time (far more time) with you than with a babysitter.
You love your children.
You open your heart to others and give advice not because you’re perfect, but because you’re learned to turn to God.
Dealing with Inadequacy
I can’t say that I have the perfect answer for balancing work, homeschooling, and family. After being a mom for twenty-two years—and a homeschooling mom who works at home as an author—I’ve NEVER thought I did a good enough job at any of it. (And just typing those words brought another rush of fresh tears.) The truth is, starting over with a little one opens my mind up to all those voices of doom every time I feel I’m falling short.
So what am I going to do about my feelings of inadequacy and my role as a work-at-home mom?
- Get a second opinion. I’m going to continue to talk to my husband more often and ask him to give me thoughts about what I can do better. God gave me John as a life partner to help shape me into being a better me. Daily, like sandpaper on wood, my husband rubs against my rough spots. God made marriage for that.
- Speak the priorities in my heart. Deep down I know my role as a mother is most important…but sometimes I forget to speak what’s in my heart. I need to make sure that by rattling off my to-do list that I don’t make my husband or kids feel less important.
- Share the truth with my family about why my work is important. As a Christian author I’m able to share the good news of Jesus with others through blogs, books, and radio. This is an important calling with God. It’s also important as I contribute financially to my family. Our summer vacations, Christmas presents…and, at times, groceries, depend on this income.
- Realize I have control of my schedule. Yes, I’m a work-at-home, homeschooling mom with lots to do, but I’m still the one who choose what goes on that schedule. Over the last week I’ve been using the words, “I’d love to do that but my schedule is full,” and amazingly, people understand. Just because I can do a great job on a work project doesn’t mean I need to do it at this time. Or just because my daughter wants to play tea party doesn’t mean I have to stop my work at that exact moment—keeping a promise and having a tea party later works, too. I don’t want to look back at my life and just have memory after memory being rushed and overwhelmed.
- Remember I’m not alone in this journey. Like Isaiah 40:11 says, “[God] tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” I’m so thankful for a gentle Shepherd! The only way I’ll have any success as a mom will come when I turn to God, depend on Him, seek Him, and allow Him to lead me.
But is the conversation over? Will it ever be over?
There will always be times when I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job, but when I turn to God, seek advice from my husband, and take control of my schedule things work better. And speaking the priorities of my heart helps others agree, too!