Why we work (or don't work) as mothers

working moms

I might be a bestselling author one day. I might speak to more men and women than any person before me. My words might have the power to change hearts and compel action. My words might be read and re-read long after I'm gone.


But I will never have as much impact on one of those people as I will on my children.

These eighteen years with each of my children is already flying. Ask any mother who has lost a child--it was not long enough. Those hours and minutes cannot be relived. 


I work and I volunteer and I mother; and I love to celebrate other women who do the same. Many of us do so at least in part because the Lord calls us up.


But sometimes we let other, less happy reasons guide our steps, and we suffer for it.


Sometimes, we make the choices we make because the world--and often even the church--questions our value.

There's a lot of lip service paid to how important mothers are, but there is simultaneously tremendous pressure on mothers to conform to models that fall short of the creativity of Christ, and to perform to standards that are utterly unrealistic. Ultimately, in the church and out of it, there is very little support.

Sometimes the church pushes women out of work when they should be in, sometimes it pushes women into volunteer positions or ministries when they should not be, and sometimes the world pushes us out of the home when we should be in. Many of us just live in a constant state of questioning our choices, and a vague sense that we're not making the right choice. 

Sometimes we make the choices we do for want of fulfillment. Parenting is unfulfilling work. Motherhood can be appallingly offensive to our identities, senses of purpose, and even our basic needs. There is very little short term payoff, no positive performance evaluations, and even fewer pats on the box.

Work can be a blessed relief, and the sheer happiness of putting on pants and interacting with humans beings over two feet might lead us to believe that is better.


It works in the opposite, too: sometimes we find the raising of small children happier than anything else we could do, and we resent the work we're called to.   


I used to hate the story of Martha in the bible. Just couldn't quite make sense of it, and as a strong "get things done" kind of woman, I felt affronted by Jesus' admonition to Martha. 


Did you know Martha was a friend of Jesus? A dear friend. It wasn't Mary who was friends with Jesus, and Martha tagging along. No, Jesus loved Martha as his own personal friend.  


The story of Mary and Martha looks a little different now, doesn't it? 


Can you picture them in your own house? Mary sitting with Jesus in the living room, maybe curled up on the couch across from him, soaking every minute up. Perhaps knowing this time was precious and wouldn't last.


Martha scrambled in the kitchen--so many mouths to feed. So on top of things. The girl who gets things done. She blustered. She fussed. She told Jesus things were wrong here.


And Jesus said, tenderly, to his friend: "There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42


Do not work or serve because someone questions your value. Do not work or serve to avoid the hardness of motherhood or the hardness of working.

Do what you do because that's where Jesus is.

Make that your one thing. Make him your only thing. Find the one thing worth your concern, and go where he leads. Escape the harried, unimportant work that's good but not the best, and sit at Jesus' feet. It is the one thing worth being concerned about.