Colleen, over at Martin Family Moments had the awesome idea of doing a 'Working Moms Link Up'. Now, obviously, every mom is constantly working, but there is something different about working outside your home part time/full time...so I am super psyched to participate.
As many of you know, I have REALLY struggled with working and being a mom. Working as a professional Coordinator of Youth Ministry and being the mom to two kids under two, whilst cookin' another, has been really REALLY tough for me! But, there have been some joys/lessons mixed in there too.
I am going to answer Colleen's suggested questions...here goes...
1) What do you do for work and why do you work?
I work as a Coordinator of Youth Ministry at a parish in Michigan. I have been here for almost ten years! A very, very long time ago (my sophomore year in high school) I felt a strong and clear call from God to serve him through working with young people. That call was solidified in college and the Lord has made the path pretty clear, even opening up a job in my hometown for a Coordinator position at the perfect parish for me. It became clear to me, about two years ago, that working in this particular job, with little kids would not be ideal. However, at the time, the husband and I had over 80k in student/car/credit card debt. So, I have been working both to give my parish a good amount of time to transition to a new youth minister AND to do the responsible thing and pay off the money we owe due to decisions we made :)
2) Did your mother work?
She did not. I think that is what makes it so hard for me to work (one of the things) I cannot be the wife/mother that I would like to be, or thought I would be, and do the job that I am currently doing.
3) Describe a typical work day.
The great news is that I do not work everyday. I only work two full days a week, then I work evenings and weekends. Part of why this job has been so tough with babies is that I don't have a typical day. I have gotten so so so much better at planning, but for the most part, my job is quite sporadic and the hours are very inconsistent (meaning not the same, not that there are no hours). On one of the days that I work, we have an awesome sitter come to our house. She takes care of the boys while I am at work all day. Mornings are a bit chaotic, mostly trying to make sure our house is presentable enough to have someone in it. Our bedroom door is always closed due to the HUGE mess it is, I bet she thinks we have dead bodies in there. The other day, I pack up the kids and bring them to my parents. Aaron picks them up after work, since I work late that day. It is not easy to get two kids out of the house and over to my parents, but we are so so so blessed that they help us out one day a week and we can save on the babysitter, because sitters, dang, they cost a lot (and ours is awesome and doesn't cost us an arm and a leg!).
4) What's the best part about having a job?
Working with teenagers and allowing their faith to inspire me is the coolest thing that I get to do. Getting to see teens who might have otherwise been shy and insecure, blossom through a program that shows them they are loved is fantastic. Having flexibility has been necessary and awesome. Having a boss that trusts me, allows for flexibility (including working from home sometimes) and supports me is HUGELY beneficial.
5) What's your least favorite part?
I have to go out of town. A LOT. When my son was 6 months old, I realized I was out of town over a month of his short life (it was a really weird time in youth ministry). I had to leave him at 3 months for 16 days to go World Youth Day. Women are built differently, I get that now. Some women can be out of town/leave/etc...and be just fine. I felt closer to insanity in those 16 days than I have ever felt in my life. I vowed I would never leave my children for that length of time again. AND, I told Aaron almost immediately after, I could no longer do the job I loved.
6) What would make your life easier?
ah, this question is tough. my husband has been a rockstar and truly has made things a lot lot lot easier. But honesty, the only thing that would make this job easier would not be doing this job, or having regular hours. But, this job demands irregular hours, which is why I shall be stepping down from it soon.
7) How do your children handle their mom's career?
Weirdly enough, my kids are SO young that at this point, it only benefits them. They get very used to strangers, very early on. They are super easily adaptable. I don't think (fingers crossed) I have caused them any real damage by leaving them when I have to go out of town. I remember, when my husband broke it to me that I would have to work at least another 1.5 years before I could be home I cried and cried and cried. But, he reminded me that my kids would never remember a time when their mom wasn't there with them. I felt good about that.
8) Do you feel supported in what you do?
My husband is awesome. Especially now that I am cooking our third kid. This morning, for example, he got up with the kids at 6:00 am while I slept. He changed them, fed them, and cleaned the kitchen/family room for the babysitter. When I woke up, he let me eat before I jumped into helping mode (If I don't eat, the level of sick I get is hard to describe). That is just one example. Whenever I get overwhelmed, he says, 'Mary, we are Team WILKERSON, say it!' and then really steps up. I feel supported by my friends/family...they constantly tell us how proud they are that we are crawling ourselves out of debt. SOMETIMES, not often, I feel unsupported by the VERY FEW people in the Catholic world of tradition (as opposed to orthodoxy) who consider it almost sinful to work. But those voices are VERY few and far between, isn't it funny though how those voices sometimes stick out?!?!
9) What are your future goals when it comes to work/motherhood?
I will probably end up back in the work force at some point after retiring from youth ministry in July. Many, many people have said they can't see me totally content at home, I just don't know. I have some potential work options, so that is exciting. But, for awhile at least, I will be the caretaker of my sweet little family. In addition, my friend Mike and I are starting up a ministry (It actually already happens, but we are naming it) of retreats/speaking/etc...for our local area. We have great success when working with young people and our presentation style seems to be really well received by lots of people. I am going to have to be careful that the ministry doesn't become full time, because it easily could. However, I love that I will still be able to work with young people, share whatever gifts God might have given me, and have a blast while doing it. More on that in the future...
10) What are some tips that help you balance it all?
This is lamo, but I have really sucked at it, so I don't really have any tips to share. Maybe the only good constructive tip I could share is to be honest with your spouse. I have cried with Aaron, talked to Aaron, asked him for help and for advice. If I didn't have him as a partner, I would not have been able to manage the past year.
Thanks for the Link-Up Colleen, you rock!!!