Working Mom

By Abbey*


I just almost wrote a tweet that would say something like “I wish I had a dollar for everything I’ve missed out on over the past couple of months because I was working. OH WAIT I DO EXCEPT TIMES ABOUT FIVE HUNDRED.”

But then I wasn’t really sure what that meant or conveyed. Yes, I do have dollars instead of the things that people do during the workday, like meetings or lunches in other parts of town or naps, or being able to have food prepared and to someone’s house by six. But am I happy about that? Hmmmmmmm.

Yes, I do realize that I am not in fact a mom. Thank you for calling that to my attention. I am, however, a 29-yr-old woman who is friends with lots of moms, lots of whom don’t necessarily work full-time at an office. And so sometimes things are planned in a way that’s a little tougher for me to participate. [Tiiiiny violin, world’s saaaaddest song.]

But this is also a thing that I have been thinking about (lots) (like, lots lots) (like constantly) about when I do suddenly have littluns in my care, without the industry standard 7-8-ish months to prepare.

I know there are fifty thousand arguments for and against either side of the working mom discussion. We’ve all had this conversation. We’re all sick of this conversation. But regardless of your views on stay-at-home moms, which I know from experience can range from “The Only Decent Thing A Woman Can Do Unless She Wants To Raise Rapscallions and Serial Killers and Democrats,” to “a luxury,” and everything in between…

I do wonder about where that leaves a foster mom.

Thing is, one does not find oneself in the foster system, a ward of the state, as it were, without some sort of really very serious levels of abuse and/or neglect and/or trauma. The truth, which is really I suppose reasonably comforting if viewed the right way, is that it is extremely difficult to have your children taken away from you. So once we get to that point, these kids have often been through stuff.

One of our lessons in our classes talked about how a brain scan, showing like which parts of the brain are developed certain ways and/or damaged, and neurochemical makeup involving heightened levels of fight/flight hormones etc., of a kid who has been recently removed from an abusive situation, is almost identical to a brain scan of a recent war veteran. Aka: PTSD.

More on that later. We spent 30 hours of classes covering this stuff and barely scratched the surface, so I’m not going to go any more into it here just now.

So. Say what you will about your average run-of-the-mill suburban kid (which none of your PRESHUS snowflakes are, obviously) navigating day care/pre-pre-school and still being well-adjusted etc… I just have a bit of a struggle with the idea of taking a recently-wounded and healing kid into my home, in order to help them find safety and stability and healing, only to basically see them for breakfast, drop them off at 7:15a, pick them up at 6:15p, hurry a mediocre dinner together, bedtime routine, and that’s basically it until the weekend.

Which, you know, then consists of the grocery shopping, housework, errands, school project-ing, home budgeting, church, oil changes, etc. etc. that we had no time for during the week.

ALSO: Bio parent visits. Doctor’s appointments. Occupational therapists. Psychologists. Psychiatrists. Court dates. Social worker visits. Ad litem visits. In addition to your standard parent-teacher meetings, sick days, forgotten lunches, school programs, etc. You get the idea.

Then you add the part about Carrier Ministries, and FMSC advisory-type duties, and some feeding-related community development projects that Pioneer Bible Translators would really like my involvement on, and tutoring Chin refugees, and Missions Commission, and how I just accepted a co-chair position of another church committee… And I think between really ministry-oriented stuff and foster parenting I could have a reasonably full and meaningful life of things that I’m really passionate about without so much the job part.

Then you add to that how my job is not a clock-watching job, at all. It is challenging and fun and engaging, and I love the people I work with, but it also uses up a LOT of the emotional, physical, mental, and grace fuel before I even get home.

Who am I convincing here?

Maybe supporters, because we were (miraculously and gratefully) able to start Dane working last year at Pioneer Bible Translators before really raising a full family’s worth of support, because of the incredible provision of my job at just the right time? But now, with the prospect of me cutting back on hours (in part or in full), we might want to start revisiting the support-raising again?

Maybe me? Because even the most confidently decided women in America I’m sure still struggle with the work/family balance constantly, and no matter what I decide, I’m probably still going to sometimes feel like a slacker if I don’t work an income-y job (millions of moms manage, why can’t you!) and a mediocre mom if I do?

The truth of it is, at this point, and I may change my tune, that I really love that verse that talks about following the path of peace. If I look down a road of budgeting and couponing and more support-raising, but being able to say I gave my husband and these kids and my ministry efforts all I had, I have peace. If I look down a road where I try to establish a routine and a relationship with the scraps left over at the end of my day, and where I’m sitting at my desk but my mind is at home, which I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will, I do not have peace.

Maybe I have cuter clothes, in that version. But not peace. 🙂

Some people would say that’s backwards, Mad Men-style nonsense. I would say, even though it sounds cheesy, that my soul, or whatever indefinable non-logic-type thing, desires that and not a career.

What say you?

*Just in case Dane ever posts, and because his Twitter feeds here, I thought it’d be good to start clarifying authorship.

**I also waffled back and forth about even posting this because of all the single foster moms I know out there, who are completely and inarguably amazing. I worried that this might just be more guilt-weight on their shoulders and I really don’t intend to cause that. But does that negate the validity of the discussion for me? I can’t really think so…

Posted in Fostering, Posts by Abbey, Uncategorized
3 comments on “Working Mom
  1. Jeff says:

    I’m glad you are wrestling with these choices. It shows maturity and availability to God and His callings I your life! Good parents aren’t those who have it all together, they are those who wrestle and refuse to settle for anything less than Gods best for them and those they parent! Keep fighting!!!!

  2. Jenn Alrikabi says:

    I can say that I very much appreciated those foster parents who were always available to transport their kids to the millions of appointments, visits, court dates, etc. It freed me up to do the work I really needed to do. That said, many foster parents worked and the kids were just fine!

    I’m home myself and sometimes wish I was able to contribute financially, but I’m so grateful that I’m able to be with them. Good luck on your decision! It’s a difficult one for sure.

  3. Christy says:

    It sounds like you know what you want, so trust your instincts. You can argue yourself into a corner about what is the “best” thing, but when you boil it down into what you feel you are called to do, doing anything other than that won’t sit right. It may take a few different tries to find the right balance, but you and Dane will keep working at it and will make great foster parents. I’m really excited for you.

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