Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

To work or not to work after baby? Some moms have no choice because of finances. Lucky moms can make life work either way and so they have that difficult decision to make. Here’s what this three-time back-to-work mother has figured out.

Naked truth #1: No one can tell you what’s right for you.
It’s trite because it’s true. Don’t let your husband, your mother-in-law, or your friends make you do something that doesn’t feel right to you. Everybody will have an opinion. Seriously. Don’t let them in your head. You are the one that actually has to be with the kids every day, all day. Or missing them terribly. You are the one commuting everyday and balancing a busy life. You have to live with the decision and be a cheerful member of your own family. Only you know what you can handle and will enjoy. Give your family and friends room to help and encourage you, but don’t give them the power to make the decision for you.

Naked truth #2: You must find a childcare solution in which you have complete confidence.
Before I went back to work, I met two nannies, toured twenty daycares, and called six references. I explored every option and did my homework. When it was time to pick, I absolutely knew that daycare was the right choice for my family. I dropped off my son on the first day and never worried about him. I was completely at ease with the owner, the teachers, and the social and cognitive skills he was learning in their program. I went to work with a clear mind, ready to do a good job. That made all the difference. If you’ve got an unreliable situation or a nagging feeling then you won’t be able to work and it will dampen your enjoyment and your energy. Keep looking until you’ve found that full confidence or you won’t last long.

Naked truth #3: Get used to juggling.
Oh no! The kids have a fever. The nanny is sick. You have an early meeting downtown. Your son needs a change of underwear at the school. There’s an infinite number of wrenches that can be thrown in to wreck your normally balanced routine.

When you work, your daughter will most certainly throw up the morning of your big presentation. You need a backup and a backup for the backup. You must summon the patience to figure out the day quickly. Some days I’m dropping off while taking conferences calls as my husband picks up early and goes to tee ball. It can be comical how all the kids are ultimately accounted for and home at the end of the day.

It can be done, I promise. You just have to be up to the challenge of figuring it out.

Naked truth #4: It gets harder, not easier, when the kids go to school.
My sons all started daycare at three months. I took maternity leave and worked when I felt both of us were ready. It was easy back then and I didn’t know it. Sure, I missed the first time they said “chicken” but I heard it at pick-up later. No big deal.

It gets brutally hard when they start school. School holidays, snow days, summer days all have to be covered. There are parent-teacher conferences, volunteers needed at the field trip, school ceremonies, and fundraising. Sure, you don’t have to go, but you want to. You didn’t know many moms back in daycare but now there’s a huge, super involved schoolmom society. They know the teacher well. They send pictures from the class party. They know everything about next week’s field day. You start to feel the distance. There’s a twinge in your heart.

You want to sign up your son for afterschool activities and sports but someone has to take him and be there at 5 o’clock for the game. The guilt starts. The juggling increases.

Now your baby is a real kid with problems he’s working out. You want to be more available for that and to help with the homework. Before your baby needed food, love, and a diaper change and it didn’t matter who did it. Now your daughter is telling you about the bossy girls at the lunch table and she needs your guidance and emotional support more than anything. Who can do that better than you?

Don’t count on putting off work for certain when they go to school. If you’re going to work, do it when they are little. The older they get, the more stuff they have going on.

Naked truth #5: Pit bull enforcement of boundaries is key.
Work will take as much as you allow, mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you’re not careful you’ll use all your energy during the day and have nothing left to give for your amazing family. It’s not enough to physically be home. You need enough energy for patience, kindness, and emotional support for your kids (and husband). Don’t give all you have to work.

There will always be meetings and drinks and business trips that will carve into your family time. Sometimes those will propel your career. Practice strict boundaries even when it really hurts. You’ll forgive your career regrets but your family regrets will haunt you forever.

Figure out what you’re willing to give to work and don’t allow any more. For me, it’s 40 hours and two days a week in the office. When I’m working I give my full attention and best effort, but I don’t accept meetings or agree to projects I know overstep my boundaries. This is a lesson I learned the hard way when I finally realized I was worn out and an impatient crankypants.

Yes, it’s completely possible to work and be a mom. I do it and I’m happy! There will certainly be difficult days where you’re barely balancing the schedule or you’re missing something you wish you weren’t. The important thing is that you’re prepared and you know what you’re getting into. Cheers to you, whatever you do!

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Christi Terjesen

Christi Terjesen is the mother of three lively boys in New York. She keeps her sanity through daily walks, expensive wine, and good books. Check out her blog, Mental Stimulation for Moms at, and her playground blog,

I Am the Griever

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother kissing child's forehead

As I write this, my mother-in-law is in the ICU. We don’t expect her to leave.  She’s too young. Sixty-four. We got the call on Saturday.  “Get here this week,” they said. So we did. With a newborn, a 3-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a soon-to-be 16-year-old. We managed ICU visits with my in-laws and juggled childcare so we could all take turns seeing the matriarch. For the last time? Maybe.  The logistics are all-consuming and don’t leave a lot of space for anything else. Also, I hate logistics. My son asks questions nobody knows how to answer: Will I die...

Keep Reading

A Permission Slip for Creativity

In: Living, Motherhood
Create Anyway book in the middle of kids playing with building blocks on floor

The following is an excerpt from Create Anyway by Ashlee Gadd, available today wherever books are sold! In those first few weeks at home with a milk-drunk newborn in my arms, I Googled every little thing, hopping in and out of online parenting forums, desperate for an instruction manual. Is it normal for a baby to poop six times in one day? Does breastfeeding ever get easier? Underneath my nitty-gritty questions loomed the ultimate insecurity every first-time mom battles: Am I doing this whole motherhood thing right? Just a few months prior, I had quit my pencil-skirt-and-high-heels- wearing marketing job...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, It’s Okay If You Hate Me Right Now

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girl looking up at mother

Dear daughter: I’ve heard it from you a thousand times when you don’t get your way. You yell it when your force of will doesn’t bend mine, thinking it will convince me to give in. But I’m here to tell you once and for all: I don’t care if you hate me right now. Last night you hated me because I made you take a bath before bed. This morning, it was because I made you wear pants. I’m the worst mom ever because I told you to eat a vegetable, and the whole day is ruined because I won’t...

Keep Reading

Anxious Moms Need Friends Too

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Women hugging outside

When I was 32, my family and I decided to move out of state. The state I had lived in all my life, where almost all my family and friends lived. Most of my friendships were childhood friends or friends I made in college. I made very few new, adult friendships after college. Maybe I felt I didn’t really need to because there was always a friend I could call. Or maybe, I didn’t want to step outside my comfort zone, face possible rejection, and felt it was just easier not to talk to people (hint: it was definitely the...

Keep Reading

The Isolation of Motherhood

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Mom sitting beside stroller, black and white image

During my early years of having children, I can recall feeling like I needed more help with juggling—taking care of my little ones and our home. Although my mother-in-law was only a 10-minute drive away, she was preoccupied looking after my nephew and nieces. Awkwardly, I would only ask if it was really necessary—like a doctor’s appointment or the dentist. Even at church, it was difficult to ask for help—either we didn’t know certain members well enough to entrust our kids to their care or they were friends with children too and that hardly seemed fair to burden them. The...

Keep Reading

You’re Learning Life by Watching Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child touching mother's face as they lie on a bed

Every morning my daughter and I go outside for some fresh air. She feeds her chickens and plays and explores and walks around with her dog while I follow her around and have a cup of coffee.  This morning, my girl grabbed one of her coffee cups from her toy kitchen and brought it outside with her while she walked with her dog and pretended to take sips out of it.  Guys. I stood there watching her with her toy coffee cup, walking around with her animals, and I cried giant baby tears.  RELATED: I Wasn’t Counting On You Growing...

Keep Reading

What Happens to the Mamas When Their Children Are Grown?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Five children walking hand-in-hand, color photo

A friend came up to me the other day after church and commented, “I’ve never seen you alone. I had to make sure you were okay.” It’s true. I’m never alone. I usually have one or two children hanging onto me and three more milling about with my husband close. But at that moment, my husband had stepped away to collect the younger ones from the children’s service, and my older two had run off with their friends. I was standing alone. And as I stood there, one thought crossed my mind, “This is what it will be like when...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Ask When I’m Having Another Baby

In: Baby, Motherhood
Pregnant woman standing lakeside, color photo

We’ve all been asked it. Maybe once, maybe more times than we can count. Maybe we’ve even asked it ourselves, “When are you trying for baby #2?” It seems harmless, and most of the time it probably is. Pre-baby me never even stopped to consider that it was anything other than a curious, sometimes nosey, question to ask. The mom version of me today feels a completely different way. It’s now deeper and more complicated than it seemed in the past. The mom in me struggles every single time I’m asked this. Struggles to come up with an answer. Struggles...

Keep Reading

Hello Midnight

In: Motherhood
Mother in child's room at night

Hello again, Midnight. I wish I could say I was happy to see you. My, what a journey we have had together over the years. I must admit I thought we started out as friends, but as we meet these days, I sense an unkindness about you. Our journey began when I was somewhere around 12. Sure, I had met you in passing on occasion in years prior, but it wasn’t until now that I sought out your companionship. Some middle school girlfriends and I stayed up late, feeling rebellious against bedtime. We were fascinated by the way the world...

Keep Reading

3 Ways to Help Your Firstborn Embrace Becoming a Big Brother

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Pregnant woman holding toddler son, color photo

My oldest son turned four right after his first brother was born. Four years of alone time with his parents. Four years of extra mommy time during the week. Four years of having toys to himself, extra attention from family members, and more. I didn’t plan a four-year age gap; it took our family a lot longer and a lot more help than we expected to have our second son, but age gaps aren’t everything. When my second son was finally on the way, I heard a lot of opinions about how our oldest son would feel once he finally...

Keep Reading