Pick two: from SAHM to working mom

pick two quote
I laugh bitterly at this Pinterest pin. Two months into the school year, I am STILL barely keeping my head above water as a working mom. I’m a little discouraged—will the chaos ever stop?

Ten years ago, I worked full-time for one year before taking a work-from-home, seasonal job as an event coordinator. I raised my babies and enjoyed a flexible schedule: time to read, visit friends, cook from scratch, and nap if necessary. As eight years passed, I enjoyed the job less and less, but the benefit of working from home outweighed the challenges. When my contract expired, I was a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) for a year-and-a-half, dabbling in a network marketing program with little success. The financial strain was tough, but I enjoyed the relaxed SAHM pace and the ability to be available for my children.

This January I started working at a school 20 hours per week. Every day I had about two hours each afternoon to shop, run errands, make phone calls, start dinner or throw in a load of laundry, or write. A major job perk is summers off with my children—a blissful 10 weeks of SAHM wonder.

In August, the school extended my hours to nearly 30 per week. I love my job, my colleagues, and the much-needed extra pay, since our children attend private school. But I despise the weeknight fatigue, my cluttered countertops, laundry on-the-fly, weekends crammed with errands, lack of reading time, spotty friend connection, no energy to exercise, and more-frequent prepackaged dinners. Oh, and my husband and I barely have time to connect at night before we crash from exhaustion. I am frantically dog-paddling in the deep end of the pool with ankle weights, struggling to keep my head above water.

And I’m trying to start a writing career on top of everything else. I feel torn between my daily life, my writing life, and my old SAHM life. I know I can’t have it all, and I want to move forward. I thirst for balance, but I’m not sure which choices on my board should stay and which should go, since they all seem worthy.

If any of you have been here before, please comment. How did you survive your transition from SAHM to working mom? Thank you in advance.


Food–My fuel, friend, and foe

CookieOne evening my children and I ate at a packed restaurant.  We squeezed our way to the exit, right past one of my children’s classmates.  As we said hello, I noticed how this overweight child used chicken nuggets as an edible spoon for dipping, rapidly shoveling honey back and forth in long, sticky strands.  The moment I glimpsed her gluttonous pleasure, a buried memory surfaced—That was me.  Food has been my problem area as long as I can remember.

Food comforted me like a snuggly blanket when I was not allowed to express my childhood hurts in normal ways, like acting out or complaining.  I loved sweets and starches, and I frequently ate adult-sized double portions.  I scooped mountains of macaroni; I craved at least two slices of bread with butter.  By age nine I downed slabs of sheet cake, piles of spaghetti, and half-rows of Fig Newtons or Oreos.  Eating large portions pleased my grandmother, who expressed her love by serving food.  And I experienced a mild high after bingeing.

But my mother lectured me when she had to buy me bigger clothing as I grew heavier.   When classmates made fun of my weight, I felt exposed and ashamed.  The pressure to stop overeating brought on more cravings for the easy comfort of carbohydrates, which caused weight gain, which brought on more social pressure.  As a fourth-grader I was already trapped in a destructive cycle—one that would follow me for years to come.

My younger sister responded differently to the stresses we shared in a single-parent home.  To my sister, food was fuel, but to me food was a friend.  She picked at her food and Mom called her a “little bird,” a name never used for me.  I am the only one in my family who regularly struggles with being overweight, probably because I was the only one who over-ate in childhood.

In his book He Satisfies My Soul, Dr. Paul Brand describes how an overweight child’s cells reproduce to store excessive calorie intake.  Those extra fat cells produce abnormal hunger cravings as the child grows.  The adult who over-ate as a child has a harder time maintaining a healthy weight than another adult who ate normally in childhood.  While reading this book, I grieved the little girl inside who didn’t realize that food can be a foe.

Today my weight remains stable, though I’m still 10% over the healthy BMI range for my height and frame.  When I cut carbs out of my diet, I become so irritable and ravenous that I fail by day two.  I have greater success upping my exercise and eating more fruits and vegetables.  Ultimately I need to make peace with my body, knowing that I may always be a bit overweight due to poor choices made long ago.

As an adult I seek comfort from God, not from candy or cookies so often anymore.  When I feel compelled to cram in chocolate chips by the handful or to consume several servings of pasta, I cry out to God for help in my stress.  I slip up every once in a while, but most of the time I handle hard feelings in a healthier way.  My jeans applaud my efforts, too.

My biggest success has been teaching my three children to eat wisely.  They recognize a full tummy feeling and know when to stop.  I have worked diligently not to use food as comfort when they are sick or sad.  I am proud that they enjoy sweets and carbs in moderation, but rarely if ever experience an upset stomach due to overeating.  At least I have broken the unhealthy cycle in their generation.

Is food your fuel, friend, or foe?  How have you used faith to overcome eating problems?




When I drive my husband’s truck
I select the Jamey Johnson CD
against my better judgment
so unlike my regular Christian fare.
Yet I choose to slip inside his sorrow.
I’ve listened often enough
to hear the devil’s lies
in my favorite songs on this bitter album.
The lie that Jesus turned his back on him
in a Southern Baptist parking lot
where he routinely got high.
The lie that no one cares where he’s been
once the fame, money, and glory
played out.
The lie that no one understands
his lonesome song.
Perhaps this is his own doing and undoing.
Perhaps he hides his pain away
where no one can see.
Perhaps he bears consequences
like the prodigal son in a foreign pigpen.
I blast the song
until the dash trembles and my ears ring.
As the bass line climbs
I slip back into the darkness
when I believed
no one understood
no one cared
not even God.
Then I used sleep and food as my elixir
not unlike his whiskey, women, and cocaine.
He’s wrong—I understand and sing along
to the words to a song nobody wrote.
Can’t nobody sing along.

I’m drawn to his mournful wail
like a mother to her baby’s cries
wanting to comfort him
wanting to comfort my old self
with the truth:
You’re not alone!
But I only knew that truth
once I turned back to my Father.
When I step out of the truck
with the song resounding in my head
I whisper a prayer of thanks
for my deliverance
and prayers of comfort
for the lonely.