When I was a young mother, I had to work to provide for our small family. My husband was finishing college and establishing his career. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt because I had always pictured myself as a full-time mother. What broke my heart over and over was hearing my children pray that “Mommy won’t have to work anymore.”
I love being a nurse. I love the women and children I have cared for over the years. But I love my family more. My husband eventually became successful, and I was able to cut back my work hours. For several years, I only worked enough to keep my nursing license current. In fact, I came to a point where I was debating giving up my career to stay at home the way I pictured when I was younger. But I never felt inspired to do so. God had different plans for me.
I read an article by Dallin H. Oaks titled, “Where Will This Lead?” He talks about the opportunity costs of each decision we make. Time spent at work costs me time with my children. But that time at work also allowed me to feed my children! It provided them with healthcare, education, and fun. My husband could not have followed his career dreams without my support.
I thought that my feelings of shame over not being a full-time mother were resolved. Earlier this year, my husband and I decided the best thing for his career would be to start his own business. While we are confident this will lead to fulfilling our financial goals, we had a hard decision to make. We could finance our lifestyle with credit until his business became profitable. Or I could step back into a full-time nursing position. Applying the “Where Will This Lead?” principles, we decided to stay out of debt. As soon as I started my new job, the mom guilt came flooding back.
My Heavenly Father knows my righteous desires. He knows all the reasons for me to remain working. He would not want me to live with anything less than joy. I doubt that God cares that my floors don’t get swept daily (or weekly sometimes). He recognizes my efforts to spend quality time with my family when I’m home. God knows how dear my family is to me.
So if God is not the originator of these guilty feelings, I can be certain who is. The adversary of us all would want women (and men!) to live with regret, shame, and guilt. Married or single. Working or staying home. With children and without. It seems the women of the world are under attack no matter what they choose, and I am not alone. I still struggle with these feelings. But I have found a measure of peace through prayer, mindfulness, and the support of other wonderful women. I love the words from the following ancient poem:
“O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
…Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
…Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.”
May we all place our trust in God. May we trust His vision and have confidence in the path He lays out for us. No matter what our journey looks like, may it lead back to Him.