Mothering is a beautiful journey, full of messes and love and heartache and joy. Although the world often focuses on “rights and wrongs” of mothering, we want to celebrate mothers everywhere who are brave enough to trust in the Lord. In this series (see part 1 here), we celebrate you, mama!
Following is the beautiful journey of Liz Jones.
My journey as a mother is not unlike most I’m sure. It consisted of a series of stumbling, falling, getting up again, dancing, soaring, running and crying on my knees moments. I wish I could say that every move I made, I covered in prayer, sought out the best support and advice and stayed consistent in my own relationship with the Lord throughout, but that would be misleading. I found that the Lord found me unprepared and needy and pulled me up, nurtured me and taught me along the way, as so often He does whenever we do anything new!
Becoming a mother awakened things within my soul that I did not know were even there. Growing up in a loving, but broken family, I had much to learn about navigating the role of being a mother. My own mother provided me with an excellent example and the things I took from her continue on to this day- knowing my children, providing for their needs, giving them opportunities to grow, giving them choices, paying attention to their feelings and opinions, and more.
My sister in law told me once that when you become a mother you also begin to grieve a loss- that loss is of your identity as a child yourself. You have to move away from being needy of parenting as you become the one doing the parenting yourself. Not that you don’t need your parents, but it is different. When you become a mother you are now always thinking about yourself AND your child. There is something so terrifyingly beautiful about having a person grow within your body, giving birth and then being responsible for another life. It is enough to shake you to the core.
I was blessed in that breastfeeding came naturally for me, this was a great source of bonding and connection between my sons and I. It forced me to slow down as well which was something I needed. I had a C-section with my oldest son and recovery was hard. I had to depend upon a lot of people and I had some major ups and downs with this new little person who so controlled my life. I was not so sure I liked it at times. I was used to calling the shots, to organizing my time and to having a “schedule” I could dictate and now, I had to be available 24/7 for another person. There were moments where I can admit that I felt resentful, I felt frustrated and I felt very alone.
In between those darker moments were many sweet times. Nighttime feedings were hard, but holy ground for me as I rocked back and forth for what seemed forever and I snacked on granola bars and fed myself spiritually by reading the Bible verses I taped on the walls near the rocker. Over and over again I read those verses and reminded myself that God’s grace was sufficient, His power would be made perfect in my weakness and that when I was weak I could declare that I would be strong in Him. That I would not be anxious about anything (going back to work, marriage stress, financial concerns, changes in my body and energy) but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving I would present my requests to God (over and over again) and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding would guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.
Eventually it was time for me to make some decisions. I needed to go back to work so that we could pay our bills. I never considered staying at home as an option. My husband was in college, working retail and we needed my income to pay our bills. We were living in family-owned property however and we could afford for me to work part-time for awhile, so I stayed out on maternity leave for about 5 months and then worked about 25 hours/week for a few months. Eventually I went back to about 30 hours/week. I had a lot of flexibility so I would pump at work and thankfully only miss about two feedings/day. Keeping up my milk supply was really important to me. I got into a rhythm and as I look back now I see how all of those long nights praying and meditating on the Word resulted in a fairly peaceful transition back to work. I missed my baby and cried at first but I had great child care and I felt much more balanced being able to work. I love my work and I felt like I was thriving both as a Mom and in my job. I work for a non-profit agency where I am given a lot of freedom with my hours and a lot of leave. I always felt supported and loved by my co-workers and boss as a new mother. I am very fortunate.
With my second child it began to feel a bit trickier. We had bought out first home- it was a small, modest home but having a mortgage was serious business. Again- I never felt that staying home or not working was an option, although I have to admit that this is when I began struggling more with the concept of whether or not being a Christian mother working outside the home was socially acceptable in my church and in society. I started getting into social media more and seeing more and more Mommy War articles and I started to get down on myself. I started questioning my decisions and began to pray for a way to work less, although I never truly felt called to do so. I began blogging about my struggles and found many other women who were in the same situation as me. This helped tremendously. I did not feel alone and I felt more freedom and grace to continue to work and be a Mommy and although there was never a perfect balance, God’s grace was sufficient and I was able to feel like I was being a good mother despite being gone 40 hours/week.
My second son was thriving and I was able again to keep up nursing and pumping for a little over a year. Childcare worked out and here I am , still working full-time outside the home. I have an 8 year old attending our local public school who has before and after care with a dear friend in her home who is amazing and my 4 year old is attending a church-based, local preschool. My mother has always watched my kids 2 days/week in my home so she provides the 1:1 care that I feel provides a lot of balance to my babies. I feel very blessed to be in the position I am in today. It is not always easy but I no longer doubt my decisions to work and be a mother at the same time. Sometimes I struggle with insecurity or guilt, I have those weeks where work piles up and my kids are sitting in front of the TV too much and my house is a wreck, but I have many more days where I find myself ready and able and loving the life God has given me. He is the only reason I can fulfill my calling as a mother and as a worker without going totally crazy (well- that part is questionable! ha!) But in all of these things I am blessed and I am thankful to my God.
You can find me blogging at:
Liz Jones is a 38 year old mother of two boys- ages four and eight. Married to Aaron for 14 years who was the first Christian man she ever dated a guy who always makes her laugh and pushes her to believe in herself. Liz works full-time outside the home as a Vocational Evaluator where she helps individuals with disabilities determine what kinds of employment they can pursue. She is a Women’s Ministry Leader (which always surprises her) in a small church plant in her neighborhood where she leads a small group of women, with lots of help!, to grow in their walks with the Lord. Liz loves most things mothers love-coffee, going to the bathroom alone to check Facebook on her phone, good conversations with friends, accessories that make jeans and a pair of boots look good and wearing pajamas as much as possible.