Growing up, I was raised to believe I can do and be anything—my being a girl was never a topic of discussion or a qualifier. I was just me, Emily, and I could conquer the world if I wanted to.
In more recent years, however, I’ve read articles and books, engaged in conversations and observed debates on what it means to be a woman; and truly cultural definitions and pressures always seem to surprise me, bouncing off my ears as foreign to me as a language I can’t speak or understand. I simply haven’t adopted gender limitations—or any limitations for that matter—in my personal manifesto.
One conversation in particular directly impacting the women around me has been an underlying topic in my current season. After celebrating college graduations, career moves and wedding bells with friends, my mid-twenties has ushered in a chapter of celebrating as friends are entering the adventure of Mommyhood. Baby showers are thrown, nurseries decorated, and then 9 months later, a precious new life enters the world. Welcoming your friends’ kids into the world truly is a magical moment.
In the midst of this new chapter for many of my friends, I’ve observed an internal struggle taking shape in their hearts and minds—whether to continue working after their baby is born, or choose to stay at home. I believe the tension lies in two distinct cultural frameworks that couldn’t be farther from the truth and leave a paralyzing wake of uncertainty in their stead:
Women who choose work over family aren’t good mothers.
Women who choose family over work aren’t good leaders.
These societal pressures make my skin crawl. A woman’s choice to work or stay at home does not make her more of or less of a woman. Being exactly who God designed you to be makes you a good mother, not a culture-defined stereotype.
Ladies, God designed us uniquely and with the beautiful privilege of birthing new life into this world. What a gift! God has wired us individually—some of us feel fashioned to be stay at home mommies and others of us feel designed to work outside the home. In the midst of cultural confusion and swirling opinions, allow these truths to permeate the depths of your heart:
Choosing to be a working mom doesn’t make you less of a mom.
Choosing to stay at home doesn’t diminish your value by any means.
Both choices are difficult and both require sacrifice. One choice isn’t better or wiser than the other. It simply boils down to obeying what God is leading as a best next step for you and your family.
I’m still gripping onto what was instilled in me as a little girl—I will not allow the pressure around me to define what is within me. The moment we succumb to pleasing those around us is the very moment we relinquish becoming who God made us to be. If God has called you to stay at home and raise your babies, pour all of the love and intensity and courage you can into your special assignment. If God has called you to raise your babies while pursuing your career, run intentionally after your assignment with your head held high. Do not apologize for who God created you to be. Own who you are proudly and raise your kids to passionately pursue becoming who God made them to be too.
Mommas, the most precious gift you can give your children is not that of giving in to the pressure around you and defaulting to doing and being who you think everyone else wants you to be. The most precious gift you can give your children is the gift my Mom gave me—the picture of a woman who daily passionately and relentlessly is pursuing becoming exactly who God made her to be and loving every minute of it.