Christian. Working. Mom. | Susan DiMickele
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I walked into the house with a load of groceries in one hand and a pizza in the other. It was too much for one person to carry, but that never stops me.
I can do it myself. I don’t need anyone’s help.
I should have slowed down. Asked my kids to help carry the groceries. Even taken two trips to the car.
But I didn’t. Instead, I decided to carry a too-heavy load. So I proceeded to lose my balance, spill the groceries, and drop the pizza. In a matter of five seconds I had lost both my dinner and my sanity.
Like most working moms, I have an overflowing plate. Admittedly, I am trying to carry too much alone. Spilling the groceries is only a small picture of what’s really going on in my life. I like to pretend that I have things under control, but I really don’t. There are so many balls in the air on a given day that I can’t possibly keep them all afloat. The question isn’t if a ball will drop, the question is which ball will drop.
Being self-reliant is one thing. Being stubborn is another. Yet this self-reliance is often learned by necessity. As women, we feel like we must do it ourselves.
In talking with a good friend this week, she commented on the “lack of community” in our generation.
“Most of us don’t live close to family. We don’t know our neighbors. We don’t have time to be involved in our churches. So we go through life and do it ourselves, because we don’t know any other way.”
Too many working moms are isolated, stressed out, and downright overwhelmed. Is this really what God intended?
Of course not.
The Apostle Paul tells us: “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
There is no substitute for human contact. We need to make time for each other and invest in our neighborhoods and churches. But I also believe there is a role for online community. Why wouldn’t God want us to use technology to come together? Why shouldn’t we encourage each other to unite — not to do it alone — right here and right now?
In the coming months, we’ll be sharing the stories of some of the amazing women who read this blog. My prayer is that we can love and support each other in a growing, online community while encouraging one another to take steps forward in our homes and churches. If you’re feeling alone, take heart. We are in this together. And you weren’t meant to carry all the groceries.
Do you try to carry too much alone? Is your current load too heavy?
God, I confess that I am trying to do it all myself. I have dropped too many balls in mid-air and I need your help. I also need the help of my family, community, and church. I often feel alone and disconnected, and I desperately need to connect. Please open new doors and show me how I can encourage others around me and embrace community.
Can we have it all? At we discussed last week, it depends on who’s asking the question.
The next logical question is what – what is “it all”?
In her article, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, former White House official Anne-Marie Slaughter concludes that, within in the framework of our current society, having “it all” is unlikely – especially when our children are in their formative years.
Yet this conclusion begs the question – what does having it all look like?
This is where the rubber hits the road. Like most tough questions in life, we must answer for ourselves. Often through trial and error. I never want another woman to think my “it all” should be her “it all.”
Yet as I wrestle with the tough questions, I always appreciate a diverse dialogue with other women.
- For Dianne Paddison, a corporate executive and former Fortune 500 COO, “having it all” meant early investment in her career, later “enabling me to take significant time off to be my my son during some rocky teenage years.”
- For attorney Richelle Campbell, “having it all” meant leaving a big firm and having her career take a back seat to motherhood.
- For Bonnie Wurzbacher, Senior Vice President of Global Customer & Channel Leadership at The Coca-Cola Company, “having it all” meant marrying a great partner — “I don’t know of even one highly successful woman leader who has a “traditional” marriage.”
Like us, all of these women define “having it all differently.” Each inspires us as she speaks through her own lens.
I likewise appreciate Slaughter’s bold dialogue as well as the spirited discussion she has sparked (including a piece on the Wall Street Journal’s The Juggle last week), challenging us to create a more flexible workplace — so that women and men can have viable choices at home and at work. Otherwise, what’s the point of the dialogue?
What does “having it all” mean to you?
“Trying to blend two personalities in a marriage is hard enough, but when you both work – and especially when the wife earns more than her husband – you’ve got a potential disaster on your hands.”
In Work, Love, Pray, Diane Paddison hits the nail on the head. Dual career families are complex. And when the rubber hits the road, dividing up household responsibilities can be tricky – especially when both spouses work outside the home. Should the wife take full responsibility for household duties, just because she is a “woman”? Is her husband less suited to contribute inside the home, even if she earns more than he? Is a “woman’s work” primarily inside the home?
You can probably guess where I come out on these issues! As a wife, working mom and lawyer, I rely heavily on my husband to “hold down the fort” when I’m running to court or hopping on an airplane. No, it’s not easy, and Diane fully recognizes the complexity of modern working families – a dynamic inadequately addressed in many Christian communities.
Rather than starting a debate or getting defensive, Diane steps back and takes a reality check. The fact of the matter is most women are working outside the home in growing numbers. And most collage educated men (some 71% – as compared to 37% in 1970) are married to college educated women. We are living and working in a different world than other mothers and grandmothers. Which means we have some issues to tackle:
- Who makes the financial decisions in your marriage?
- Do you have separate or joint checking accounts?
- How should you divide household chores?
- Does your husband feel valued and appreciated, even if he isn’t the breadwinner?
Work, Love, Pray doesn’t present easy answers to these questions. More importantly, it starts a dialogue. A dialogue that doesn’t draw lines in the sand or throw stones. A dialogue that gives practical examples and insight. A dialogues that encourages us to play to our strengths and approach marriage as a team – with joint stewardship as the goal, not gender stereotypes.
How do you go about serving your spouse while dividing up household responsibilities? Should gender play any role? Whether you’re married or single, how can the Christian community can better address modern families?
[Continue the discussion with me at the 4Word Book Club.]
What do you want to be when you grow up?
In Chapters 7-9 of Work, Love, Pray Diane Paddison encourages young women to work hard, discover strengths, and play to passions.
Of course, it can take time – even years – to find the right career path. But no matter where we are in our professional journeys, we can ask ourselves some key questions:
- Do I enjoy what I do?
- What is the next step to advance my career goals?
- How do I gain leverage in the workplace?
Diane’s advice is smart, no-nonsense, and practical. Start with what you enjoy. Start by working hard. Harder than the person in the cubicle next to you. In Diane’s words, “no one is going to bend over backward to help a slacker.”
Does this mean you never leave the office early? That you don’t have a life outside of work? That you are married to your job?