Years ago, I taught music lessons out of my home.
I had hoped to continue my career as a music teacher while raising my kids. My students would come for piano and vocal lessons, while my baby girl was napping in the afternoon and then when my husband returned home from work, he would take over caring for her while I taught well into the night.
It was exhausting.
Switching those hats was never an easy feat. I would anxiously go through my day with that ever-present pressure to make sure I didn’t veer from the course, for fear of messing up the mandatory naptime.
As often the case, despite my agonizing efforts — she would invariably wake up from her nap too early — or go down too late rendering me wearing both hats. It was a constant challenge to switch back and forth and at times wear them both. I juggled this schedule to the best of my abilities, as I added a second child in the mix and barely survived.
I loved teaching my students. I had a well-worn path created out of the passion and purpose of my love for music and guiding young souls toward embracing it in their lives. I had deep connections with the parents and the kids I taught. It was a significant part of my life, and I tried to hold on to it as tightly as I could, while this new and ever-growing need in caring for my kids was fiercely fighting for all of me.
My children suffered medical issues that pulled the current stronger toward my vital need to take off that passionate purposeful teaching hat, and lay it to rest. It was such a difficult surrender … and yet, it released great liberation to allow me to give all I had to my most critical mission:
Being a mother.
I look back at that time, and realize now that I made the best decision of my parenting life. I was desperately torn in my deepest longing to let go of anything that hindered my responsibilities in caring for my precious children. They were suffering, and I was tormented by their plight — as any mother would be. I had to make a change to attend to them with all of me. And although I gave up a beautiful career, I see now how it shifted my priorities in perfect placement. I was blessed to be able to make this change.
Sometimes that means working — or not working. Every situation is unique and every mother has to face those ever-present and significant turns throughout her journey as a mom.
The choice each mom makes, is important and worthy of respect. There are so many variables and benefits to working moms and non-working moms. There are countless moms who work and balance the equation with amazing grace and bold intention. I am in awe of the incredible sacrifices made with either choice, for any woman.
As my kids are now older, and have finally reached a season of health, I have spent my valuable ‘free’ time wearing new hats. I write. I reach. I run ministries and cherish every bit of these beloved missions that I have been able to place in my life — in addition to motherhood.
There are always the ever-changing seasons. And I am now in a season of fulfillment not only as a mother, but a woman with new dreams.
I think I will always battle the balance in it all…
But I embrace these hats and feel a sense of constant fulfillment in wearing them all. Every mom can attest to the challenges we all face in switching our hats, and often wearing them both at once. How long to spend with one hat on, versus the other? How do our kids perceive the other hat and vice versa. Each mom must clearly define what is best for them. Each family has their own unique calling in how they choose to live.
And there is a season for it all.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … Ecclesiastes 3:3 (NIV)
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Before having children, Chris Carter worked as a music therapist for several years in Chicago’s inpatient psychiatric hospitals. She also managed creative arts and recreation programming for four group homes. In that time of her life, she learned and grew to know the pain and suffering of so many people. She is now a stay-at-home mom and currently spends her days running kids to and from school four times a day, volunteering and keeping the house in some sort of order! She has a thriving blog, The Mom Cafe, where she regularly shares her mothering experience and wisdom.