I heard a podcast the other day discussing fulfilling your calling. Andy Stanley—the speaker—spoke frankly of the change that can occur when you choose to invest in something of importance. I’m paraphrasing here, but he basically said it would take time away from your family and friends, possibly some money from your wallet and energy from your day. It will demand more of you than what feels comfortable. I’m in my 20s, and I am still exploring what my “calling” is, but I can attest to the idea that investment in important things can, in fact, take away from other important things. For me, this important thing is my family—specifically, my daughter, Bellamy.
I have been interested in a career change lately and have been fortunate enough to find opportunities to explore the field of my choice. I am so happy to pour into my new job, but I know it’s going to take away from the precious time I have with her. She is only 8 months old, and I love being around her. I love being her mother. This really has nothing to do with how I feel about being a “working mom” or a homemaker.
In taking the leap from staying at home to working a full-time job, the anxiety and fear of what this will do to our relationship has set in. I tear up from time to time thinking about her being with someone else 10+ house a day (thanks to a pretty hefty commute), even if it’s her dad or my mom—it’s not me, and that’s scary. Sometimes it feels like I am giving up part of who I am in her life to chase this other side of me I feel is meant to be a priority. I am trusting that everything is going to be OK, even though I struggle with doubt. I remind myself I am doing this to bring fruition to a whole life my husband and I are building together. It’s not just the kids, just our marriage or just our jobs. All of these separate parts are important, and they are all working together.
All of these emotions have me feeling extra sentimental toward the time I do have with her, and it has refreshed my desire to do as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. I have always been one to use a baby carrier, cuddle her to sleep, opt out of having a stroller for walks, etc. I just love holding her. When she was born a friend said to me, “Hold her!” That was her advice. I remember being struck by it because I heard the urgency, sincerity and desperation in her words. (She has a daughter in elementary school, so I’m sure she knows what she is saying.)
For the past almost nine months, I have held her as much as possible. Of course I let others get their baby fix, but more often than not, I pass on offers to take her off my hands. The truth is, the moments of holding my daughter are grander than ever before. I have started to remember each one, taking a moment to tell myself this is a moment in time I will want to come back to in the future. I take nothing for granted, knowing I am taking a risk with my valuable resource of time. I hold her no matter what.
The other day I was running late to work. I usually do the balancing act of changing or feeding her in-between brushing my teeth and putting on a little makeup. This particular morning she was exceptionally needy. I don’t like that word because it sounds negative. She is a baby, so of course she needs a lot. She wasn’t content or satisfied with any of the usual distractions, and I found myself scooping her up for a few seconds at a time before putting her back down to accomplish another task. She grew more upset, and by the time we were ready to leave, she looked devastated. She had big, sad tears streaming down her face, and I knew she just needed a few minutes of contact with her momma. I looked at the clock, saw I was already 10 minutes late, and took a deep breath. I threw my stuff down, picked that baby up and sat down on the couch. We just held each other while I cried.
My heart hurt in thinking I was too busy to comfort her until that point. I think I sat with her for almost 15 minutes, making me very late, but it needed to be done. I waited until she let me know she was OK, and we left to drop her off with my mom. That experience changed the fabric of my mothering. I realized the time I have taken and will be taking away from her has solidified my commitment and gratitude for my daughter as well as my new job. I’m not implying anything is more important than family. I don’t believe that. But I do believe in building a whole life for my children, for my family, as I mentioned before. For some moms, being home is that missing puzzle piece. For others, maybe it comes in seasons, like me, or perhaps it’s decided on up front to return to the workforce.
My main point is this … if you have babies … hold them! Take the same advice I did. Allow yourself to be a few minutes late, or be the emotional wreck I was that morning. Let them recharge in your arms. Be their safe zone and their resting place. As every parent will tell you, it’s not forever, and sometimes being in the thick of it can be as heart wrenching as looking back and wishing you had more time. We are still individuals with life stories to live, so whether or not you work or spend time away from your family, capitalize on what you do have each day. I realize the time is short, and I am always counting the minutes. The weekends are now our playground. I anxiously wait to spend that time with her, and I know as weeks go by, we will find a new balance in our relationship. Until then, I hold her. I never give her up.