Friday, November 30, 2012

On Mommy Guilt...

Wow, it's been crushing lately.  For the record, in case you don't know, I am a working mom.  I love my job and since I work in education, it's easy to see how important the work is that I do.  I'm not working for the money, I'm personally working for the blessing of seeing kids' minds open up to the world around them and to be there for children for whom the adults in their lives are unwilling or unable to be.  Daily, I pick up the pieces as marriages fall apart, I try to be there for kids whose parents are in crisis and I try to be the adult in a child's life when the adults are acting like children.  I am not saying that every child needs this but I refuse to apologize for being a mom who works outside the home - my work is important.  I almost never go out on my own unless my children are asleep, I don't go out to socialize with friends and I avoid all choices that take me away from my children.  I also have the luxury that my schedule roughly matches up with that of my kids so while my son is at daycare during the day, my daughter is only in daycare for about an hour a day because she is in school.

That being said, this year, I have more keenly felt than ever, the struggle of being a working mom.  Because of the nature of my job, I can't go in and volunteer in my daughter's classroom and I can't be a daily presence at the school.  I decided that, since her school doesn't exactly bless me with other chances to be involved, that I would start going to the parent council meetings.  Has that ever been eye-opening.  It's run by a very small group of mothers, all of whom are stay-at-home and all of whom obviously look down on us as being "lesser moms" and "not getting the needs of our children" and that "if we really cared, we could stay home."  It makes me want to scream - "your staying home isn't because of any special accomplishment on your part other than marrying a man who can pay your way."  I don't judge these women for staying home and, truth be told, I'd love to work part-time (that's my ultimate dream) but for us, right now, that's just not possible.  I makes me insane that these women can be so judgemental.  Does staying home with the children really bring that out in women?  Seriously, I am asking that.  I came home after the first meeting and told my husband that I was glad that I was able to go out to work because at least I am out with women who aren't bored and don't have to resort to the "mean girl" some in, some out drama to make life interesting.

All this being said, the mommy-guilt keeps kicking in, though.  Last year, the school scheduled the kindergarten concert in the morning during the school day.  I was shocked.  Every school at which I have ever taught has had concerts in the evening to allow parents to come.  For the 15 years I have been teaching, I have just viewed it as part of my job to stay a few evenings a year.  My husband and I really don't have any childcare options here and my husband does all kinds of musical evenings at his school so I have taken my children with me (and they both love going to my school and being spoiled by my students and fauned over by the parents).  Last year, I took a day off and went, risking being in trouble from the school board.  This year, with all the labour unrest here, I guessed that it would be during the day again and I started to creatively plan how I might get there.  I asked about whether I could take an unpaid day off and was told that there is no way that they would approve it.  Dh and I talked and we decided that he could probably go in late and get a couple of teachers to cover his class, just so that we wouldn't have to tell Pk that nobody would be there to cheer her on.  Then, last Friday, we heard through the grapevine that they were planning the concert for the afternoon of the Friday before the break.  There is NO way that we could sneak out for a bit then and if we booked the time off, we would be slaughtered.  I lost it.  I sent the principal a very pointed email about the fact that they evidently valued one type of parent very much over another and that this was an equity issue that they were excluding parents who work who, in this town anyway, must be the vast majority of the population.  At the end of the day (after some considerable discomfort including the principal emailing the principal at my school!), the concert was actually moved - the principal agreed that they couldn't have chosen a time more challenging for the vast majority of parents.  It is still during the day (with the current labour situation, there are no evening concerts) but it was at least a small gesture.  In the midst of it all, though, I came away feeling like a total failure.  My child was going to have to come away feeling like we didn't care because of the fact that we can never be there for her.  I cried more than a few tears over that.

Why is it so hard to be a mother and not feel loaded down all the time?  I'm sick of it.  I wish I could find a way to just let it go and know that my children get so many opportunities and because Dh and I are teachers during the day, we can be much more present than most parents (off two weeks at Christmas, one week at March Break and 9 weeks together full-time as a family in the summer and only a few hours a day during the work week).  I also don't want my daughter to limit her dreams or to believe that she is less because she is female and I want to send her an example of not feeling limited.

All that being said, though,  being a working mom really sucks sometimes.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


A while ago, a friend posted a link to a new online study hosted by Melissa Taylor from Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Me, I love me an online study!  I find life so busy that I can't seem to find a good study group to attend these days and while Bible study is so important, I have a hard time justifying taking time away from my children.  Online Bible studies let me flex my learning muscles, learn from other people and, most important for me these days, give me deadlines to meet.  Given who I am, which you are about to find out, I must always meet a deadline so it keeps me going.

This study is called "Greater" and is built around Steven Furtick's book of the same name.  I haven't heard of him before but the summary sounded interesting.  The contrast between "greatness" and "greater" seemed intriguing.  I have to say, after reading chapter 1, I definitely think this book is for me.

When I was in school, I was eventually labeled "gifted" after being tested.  That sounds like a good thing, right?  Well it wasn't for me.  I am someone with a definite bent towards being a perfectionist and the "gifted" label upped the ante for me.  Not only did I have to do everything wonderfully, I felt like I had to do everything in a thoroughly spectacular way.  As I am sure you can imagine, that's a ridiculously high bar to set for yourself and leads to a great deal of heartache.  As I read the discussion of the meaning of "greater" rather than "best", I wanted to read more and as I realized that there was a message here that God would help me achieve that "greater" that is planned for me, I felt this tremendous sense of relief.  Maybe I don't have to push so hard all the time... Maybe I don't always have to lead everything, accomplish everything, be perfect at everything.  Frankly, all this striving has left me absolutely exhausted, burnt out and discouraged.  I will definitely keep reading, just to search for that change in my thinking.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.   ~ John 14:12 NIV84

I know I am supposed to answer what I think about this scripture passage for the week:  Frankly, I don't know what it means exactly.  How could I ever do anything greater than Jesus, even with God's help?  Maybe I'll know by the end of this study.

I can't wait to read everyone else's thoughts.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On Sarah's Bedside Table

I know, I know, I'm back, yet again.  I really don't have time for this blog but I love stopping in and often, I have something that I'm dying to say to SOMEONE and you are the best someone I know.  I'll try to be more regular around here but, frankly, we both know the chances of that.  If there's anyone still stopping around here once-in-a-while, thank you for your patience with me.

So, one of the reasons I haven't been around here much is that I have been reading.  Reading, reading and reading.  I have a pile of books at the side of my bed and I'm going through them as quickly as I can.  I'd like to address two of them right now.

The first, by Rachel Held Evans, is "A Year of Biblical Womanhood."  She's what I have heard described as "an evangelical, feminist blogger".  That in itself piqued my curiosity.  When I saw her book mentioned on another blog, I had to have it.  I'm so glad that I preordered it because I've had a hard time putting it down.

I've really questioned, for quite a while now, what it means to be a Christian woman.  That may sound silly but I've felt very lost.  The conservative right puts forward that I should not have a job outside the home, I should devote my life almost entirely to my husband and then my children (in that order), that I should be submissive and meek and that I should really not have an intelligent thought of my own.  The other side of the issue, as far as I can tell, seems to want to totally ignore all Biblical texts on womanhood and to state that I can just ignore Biblical teaching on womanhood.  Neither fits for me.

Along comes this book.  I would LOVE to do a discussion group with some Christian woman on this book sometime.  While I don't want to say too much right now as I'm tired and I don't want to do the book an injustice, I have to say that I LOVE some of the brilliant conclusions that she draws.  The section on the meaning of Proverbs 31 and the role it plays with Orthodox Jewish women felt right to me for the first time.  It's not merely a list of rules we should be following but, in truth, an homage to the creativity and capability of wives and mothers and women more generally.  We should be praising each other as "women of valour" and looking to see the valour in other women.  I LOVE that idea.  Thank you, 
Rachel, for your thoughtful, obviously scripture-loving exploration.  It drives me crazy when people reduce the Bible to a set of rules.  It's so nice to finally see a book that explores how we can approach scripture as so much more.


The other interesting book I am reading these days is "Almost Amish" by Nancy Sleeth.  She's is part of a couple who decided that they were going to leave their wealthy, materialistic life for a life more in keeping with their values - caring for our planet and showing love for God's creation while living with what they need, instead of what they want.  Frankly, at times, the book makes me feel shallow and greedy, which I am, but I have also found sections that really speak to me.  The chapter I read last night was focused on spending time in the natural world to build appreciation of God's glory and how reconnecting with the natural world (as the Amish do, living off the land and caring for animals), helps our mental state and our spiritual state.  It made me resolve to get outside more and to get the kids outside more.  Pk ad I spent the early part of the morning gluing our pinecone wreath we are making for Christmas.  It was lovely.

So, bloggy friends I follow, keep the lists of books coming!  Most of the books I enjoy most these days come from my blog reading (along with some of the best recipes, too!)  I would never have heard of these two books without you sharing.  Thank you!

Sunday, November 4, 2012