Like most women, becoming a mother was a huge turning point in my life. I suddenly had to reassess everything I wanted and decide if and how I could do it with a baby. Did I want to be a stay-at-home mom? Did I want to work? Would we hire a babysitter for date nights and adult get-togethers with friends? Would I still pursue my personal callings? Of course, being me, I decided I wanted it all—motherhood, career, relationships, purpose—and I wanted it all at once.
Thankfully, I was offered a job that allowed me to do just that.
While most women have to choose between staying home or going back to work, I get to have it all, taking work home and bringing baby to the office. My job description here at YWAM Bridges of Life includes leading a Discipleship Training School, making desserts for the base cafe, and taking part in daily worship and community work. James tags along for all of this, sitting on my lap during meetings, nursing while I type one-handed emails, and napping in the baby carrier while I walk to the store.
As sweet as this situation is, it doesn’t come without complications.
Balance is forever an issue in our household, as we struggle to draw lines between work and family time. I oscillate between mom guilt and career guilt, convinced I’m neglecting my child or failing to live up to my personal potential. And even when everything goes smoothly (which it never does with a small child), my days often feel like a long-distance sprint. I fall into bed exhausted, just barely closing my eyes before it starts all over again.
In the good and the bad, having it all is teaching me one invaluable lesson: you have to say “no” to a lot of good things to say “yes” to the best things.
Like most Americans, I’m tempted to take a “more is more” approach to work and family life. More jobs, more relationships, more activities, more responsibility…until my body or mind gives out. This weekend, it was my body. After taking on way more cooking jobs than I should have, I got a wicked case of food poisoning. Despite sleeping next to a bucket all weekend, I actually found myself enjoying the rest and quiet time with my family.
Helpful tip: when food poisoning is a reprieve, you’re doing too much.
As I slowly eased back into work, I finally began drawing some healthy boundaries, admitting to myself and others what I could really handle. I spent more time simply playing with my son, rather than distracting him while I tried to catch up on work. I rested and had quiet times, something that rarely makes it onto my schedule.
As my priorities here become clearer, I’ve decided to say no to everything but those essentials. It goes against every grain in my work-driven body to do so, but the more I narrow my “yeses,” the more joyful and light having it all becomes.
I’m still figuring it out and fighting the urge to have it all and more more more, but that joy has become an essential marker for me. When joy leaves the building, I know it’s time to bring out the “no” card again, paring back until life comes back in balance.
Today, my balance is this: a baby on my hip, a pie in my oven, and a smile on my lips, knowing that even as I strive to have it all, I don’t have to do it all…at least not today.