Three months after giving birth to my second baby, my precious sweet Annie, I greeted my nanny at the door, hugged both kids tight, and then climbed in the car to drive to work. At the time, all of my coworkers were men, and I got the sense that they weren’t entirely sure what to expect. At the end of that first day back, one of them asked if I was “just exhausted.”
“Actually no,” I answered truthfully. “This was a breeze compared to caring for two kids under three years old all day!”
For many working mothers, returning to work after maternity leave can feel excruciating. For me, by God’s grace, it really wasn’t. I missed my kids, and I loved them deeply, but even on those first days back, I felt confident that I was where God created me to be, doing what I was made to be doing.
Incidentally, I also didn’t have a choice. I was the sole wage earner for the household, so for me—like many moms today—staying home was not an option.
A “Good” Mom?
In many Christian circles, there’s a quiet—or sometimes not-so-quiet—understanding that the best-case scenario for every family is to have a “good” mom who stays home with her children, or at the very least, wants to be a stay-at-home mom.
Ouch. Is there really only one kind of “good” mom?
I don’t think so. But the assumption is pervasive and damaging. It provides an almost constant potential source of doubt, guilt, and pressure that seem particularly unwarranted when you consider that nearly 70 percent of moms of school-age children work, and that of that group, 40 percent are the primary breadwinners who must work to support their families.1