I recently had the opportunity to go on work trip for a week, and I could not have been more ecstatic. To recap, I work part-time in sales training for the same company for which I have worked for the last 8 years. Most of my work happens between 5-7 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Yes, I actually chose to work those hours, can you believe it? See, for me it is a break, and even if I have to give up sleep, which I used to value, now I just feel like it is just one more thing on my never ending list of to-do items. So, working helps me shift my brain from mom mode back into Laura mode. I feel like one of the biggest complaints I hear from young moms, or moms in general, is that they feel they have lost themselves in the day-to-day of raising a family. What??? How is that possible? I mean, I had to recently start drinking shakes in the morning because I would forget to eat until we went to Chick Fil A (for the 3rd time that week because I had a coupon and M would actually nap after playing on the playground sans socks and “grocery store feet” — CHECK!) Or, I don’t know . . . maybe because my children’s wardrobe looks better than mine, my food is often cold, and well, the last time I “saw a man about a horse” BY MYSELF, I was in Richmond, during this work trip. So, needless to say, I was pretty pumped — 5 days, 4 nights in a bed by myself (not sure about you, but sometimes I can use a break from my husband, and him from me, if I am being honest, because I can be bear at times), lunches and dinners catered, and ADULT CONVERSATION 100% of the time. There is also the fact that these adults could talk and told me how great and wonderful I was, and what a good job I was doing. I am sure your children are not like mine; they probably thank you all the time, make you feel so appreciated, and at the end the day, so accomplished, but for me, this was a week of “heaven on earth.”
One of the reasons I decided to stay at home was because I felt guilty about not being there for my girls. While I loved the girl who kept M, I was so sad to see pictures they drew together or to hear M asking when her nanny was coming back tomorrow. I hated not being the ONLY person in my little girl’s life. The time that we did spend together, I felt was often rushed — 2 hours at night and weekends that were filled with life — parties, church, yard chores, house work; however, I loved my job, I loved the people I worked with, and I loved my freedom. So I decided to stay home, and while I struggle some, I have come to terms, for the most part, with this season of my life. But you know what — just as I started to get excited about the opportunity to go away for a week, I instantly felt guilt and shame and just over all sick about leaving the girls. Thanks, Satan, you strike again; you know just how to get me when I am down. So here is the deal, the girls were going to stay with my parents, whom they love and were super excited to be with, so there was no reason for me to be feeling this way. I have asked so many women this past year about how they cope with working, not working, time away from their kids, and how they view other caretakers in their kids’ lives. (i.e., grandparents). I know what I am doing by asking — I am trying to look for the answer among my friends to justify my actions, or allow me to feel a certain way. And well, let me tell you, while I have received some good advice, no one has given me the magic answer. I told my husband that I think the reason I am back at my company in this particular area, where I talk to people all over the country, literally interacting with the whole company, was to have more platforms to share my faith. Interestingly enough, during my week in Richmond, I probably spoke to 10 people about my faith — WOW! So looking back, those feelings were definitely Satan holding me back, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. YES, Satan was at work stealing my joy, trying to hinder me from doing what ultimately was to spread The Word to a lost world.
So back to those negative feelings . . . well, thankfully they quickly passed when I walked into my hotel room, temperature set on 78, a king sized bed with extra pillows, and a chocolate chip cookie the size of my face. I found myself at the end of each day, which were super long and often did not really end until10 p.m., just wanting to go bed. I was having a blast — connecting with old friends, getting some work done, eating hot meals, and sleeping with lots of pillows and a heavy comforter. By Wednesday I thought, “Oh I may need to call the girls.” So I did and back came the feelings from before as M started crying on the phone, wanting to know when I was coming home. Mind you she was fine, watching way more TV than she normally does (because, duh, TV will make you dumb if you watch more than 30 minutes a day), but in that moment, she wanted me, so I felt guilty, again. Why do we do this, moms? Why do we stay in constant conflict, questing everything we do? As I stood there, I heard a voice, which I can only say was the Holy Spirit, “Laura, I will grant you the desires of your heart if it is in accordance with my will.” I recently started attending a Bible study that takes a chapter in the Bible and really dives deep into The Word. One night the teacher was talking about how she used to really love to paint but had to stop because of “life.” So she starting praying to God to allow some way some way for the opportunity to start painting again. Well, a few months down the road, a woman offered to keep her kids for a while so she could take up painting, but more importantly, refresh her soul. I remember her saying over and over that night, ” Take your desires to God, tell him specifically what you want, what you feel your heart needs, and if it is according to His will, He will grant you those desires.” You see, the “if it is according to His will, He will grant the desires” is where I normally struggle; I mean, didn’t He put those desires into my heart to begin with??? Okay, I am not a theologian, so I will leave that to you to marinate on, but I prayed about this trip — I prayed that God would open the door for someone to watch the girls, that my husband would be encouraging as I prepared to go, and you know what — those things happened! I also prayed about my desire to eat hamburgers and french fries with a big ole scoop of cake batter ice cream ( I know, like a 5 year old) and wear a size 2. (I am still waiting about that one 🙂 Satan wants to steal our excitement, he wants us to doubt, he wants us to feel “less than,” but more importantly, he does not want us to share our story with people. Do not get me wrong — while at times I think my daughter might be “possessed,” do I wonder if her actions that night were anything more than that of a normal three year old — no. Nonetheless, the feelings of doubt, most certainly, were his doing. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Like when M tells me to “Just back it off, Momma,” because she needs some space (guilty that I may have taught her that, which, of course, she takes and runs with), I had to tell Satan, “Just back it off; I am where I am supposed to be tonight!” And you know what — I went on to have an hour long discussion about “organized” religion with a co-worker. GOD IS IN CONTROL.
Back to my original point, is it OK to not miss your kids? The short answer is YES! Stop feeling bad about enjoying that trip with your hubby, or going to get your nails done with a friend, or, heck, the fact you go to the bathroom and read by yourself. We need breaks. We need time away from our children. Obviously, we need to pour ourselves into their lives, and to be “present” when we are with them ( something I am really working on)to be mentally checked in. Confession: I feel weak when people do things for me. Not a lot of things make me feel uncomfortable, but that does. I will do something for you all day long, but I mean, I am kinda like Super Woman, and I don’t need your help. UM . . . NO. I am kinda like a big ball of yarn that looks put together, but tug at one string, and it falls a part! I am learning to, well, really letting go of having to be in control and constantly beating myself up because I am not doing “X.” The Bible literally tells us to help each other out in Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” I am asking for more help when I need a break — I just asked a random person at Walmart to watch my kids for an hour so I could shop in peace — Ha, gotcha! I have not done that, but if someone appeared willing one day, I just might, as I have asked people I may have only met one or two times to watch my kids so I could go to the bathroom alone (it’s tough with a 3 year old opening the door every 5 seconds while holding a 9 month old in one hand, trying to wipe with another and not get pee on anyone — right???) A friend I met not too long ago told me, “I really think you just need to give yourself more grace.” I remember immediately thinking, “Um, you have, like, 4 kids under 5, so I guess I should listen to you because that must be what keeps you from going nuts.” So when you are feeling those feelings of guilt or the enemy is just on you and you KNOW you are living in God’s will, just take a second and give yourself some grace, and maybe a Bruster’s ice cream…..now wouldn’t that be something?