Tell me about your experience with your mother.
I was raised as an only child of a single mom. She and I were and are still very close. It was always just the two of us and we had a lot of fun - and a lot of struggle too. My dad was definitely a big part of my life, and he was a wonderful father to me. My mom and I moved a few times, for better schools and jobs. As a mother I see now how difficult it must have been to do it all alone and yet she did it. I have so much respect for her tenacity, commitment and work ethic, but most of all her love for me. She did everything she could to teach me and raise me well. She’s still working, and she's in her early seventies. And she still has the fire for life that she always had - still strong, fun, and wanting to improve. She works out at the gym all the time and even does full push ups and pull ups.
How are you like your mother?
I love to do sounds and voices, dance and make believe play. I get that mostly from my mom. She was a theatre major in college, and she passed that on to me. We’re dramatic in our lives -animating stories, being silly. When I see my mother with my children, I’m just reminded of how she was with me, getting on the floor and being silly, being animated and engaged with me. I'm also very affectionate with my children as she was with me. My daughter already relates to me like I did to my mom. We're very close, very tender, but there's also a battle of wills that rears it's head regularly- part of the intensity of emotion). I really appreciate the relationship we had. Growing up with a single mom definitely influenced me in the choices that I’ve made. I chose to leave my job that I really enjoyed, a job that was definitely helping the family.
What was your job?
Most recently I was working at a think tank on foreign policy, doing work on congressional affairs and the media. It was current and exciting, dealing with really intelligent people, and I really enjoyed that. In the end it didn’t make too much financial sense to do childcare, compared to what I was missing out on. Also thinking about growing up as a child in daycare, I really wanted that chance, not that other people can’t make a totally different decision. Some days I say, “what have I done?” But I know that it is a privilege that I never got to have. I saw my mom struggle, and want so much, and try so much to be there. Even if it’s just for now, I want to have the opportunity to do what my mom couldn’t do.
People have strong opinions either way, but it’s never an easy decision.
Either way you’re thinking, is this the right thing to do for my family? My friend once made the astute observation that our school system is very strange in that we send our kids away right when they start being really pleasant to be with. We’re going to be a part of a homeschool co-op next year, but ask me in a year how we’re doing. I used to say that it was not me, but we don’t have a lot of great options in our location. If we sent them to private school, I would have to go back to work, and then we would have to get daycare again for after school.
There are no perfect choices.
There aren’t. Maybe if I did something that was more flexible? I wish I had thought ahead of the limitations of life with a family, but I never thought that way. I always thought you should do what you love, and it will all work out. It has in an unexpected way, and I'm thankful to be where I am. It's certainly the most non-stop, challenging job I've ever had!
How did you decide to have children?
We had many fertility struggles to have our first child, and in the process of thinking about a second child I felt like I needed to let go of my desire for control. I felt God telling me to give it up, like Abraham being asked to give up Isaac. It sometimes felt like I couldn’t breath. You can’t control your own fertility. When I gave up that control and started truly trusting God's plan for our family, which I thought at that time was adoption, I discovered that I was pregnant with my son. I had always been told I couldn’t have children naturally. I’m just so thankful. Now, our third one is due in a few months, and he was also a complete surprise. It was my greatest fear from the age of 18 - that I was never going to be a mother. Now I am overwhelmed by the abundance of God. I’ve definitely changed for the better because of them. But also because of the process to have them. Looking back, I'm glad it wasn't easy because now I can empathize with others who are similarly struggling and offer encouragement and comfort. I now also trust God more, not because He gave me my heart's desire, but because He carried me through the pain and struggle and gave me peace in the midst of disappointment. I know He is real and hears our cries, prayers. That's my testimony of grace!