I took one semester off from my job as a high school English teacher after my son was born. Well, one semester plus summer plus the rest of the quarter that I could not finish when he decided to roll in ten weeks early. I was lucky to have that long stretch to bond with him, to go on those early morning summer walks, to nap next to his crib while he napped, to learn how to care for his special needs and attend his therapy sessions. When he was seven months old I felt comfortable going back to work with his care placed firmly in the hands of grandparents and close friends. I did not regret one moment I was home. Because there was a ticking clock counting down until my return to the work force, every moment mattered more. Those months were an anomaly, a gift. They were one long Sunday afternoon, the last tastes and deep breaths of the weekend before it all begins again.

Then I went back to work and cried…a lot. I cried during faculty meetings and when my mom would call to give me reports on my son’s new moves in physical therapy. I cried when I had to stay late for parent-teacher conferences and missed our few hours together. But over time, as all things go, I transitioned and we began to thrive. We still had our walks, now in the afternoon, and we still had our time, just the two of us before my husband came home. It was workable.

And then I had twins. Talk about a smack to the forehead. It was a whiplash life change. With three kids under three, we would not be able to afford childcare. Suddenly, after navigating and successfully sailing the waters of working mom with a special needs son, I was adrift with three. I said goodbye to teaching and entered the world of the SAHM…an acronym I did not wear well. It was itchy and the wrong shape, like somebody’s borrowed sweater. Suddenly productivity was about all you didn’t do. At first I was confused by the pictures on Facebook of piles of dirty dishes and unwashed laundry and the selfies with toys like mountain peaks in the background. And then I understood: you can either play with your kids because they’re only young once or you can do the laundry and pick up the mess. You can’t do both.

When the kids got a bit older and I began to work from home as a freelance writer, I wasn’t sure what the feeling was, hard like a peach pit just below my sternum, whenever I sat down with my laptop while the kids ran circles around the living room or me. Until I clicked on those Facebook feeds again. My writing was my proverbially pile of laundry and I was getting it done. Which means I wasn’t “mommying” which means I wasn’t doing my other job which means I was succeeding and failing spectacularly at the same time. To win at work was to lose at motherhood. Or so it seemed.

Until one night, not long ago, my daughter crawled up on our bed and squished herself next to me. I was balancing my laptop on my knees and typing out the end to an article that was due the next day. She bent her knees like mine and began whispering to herself. Because kid whispering is actually louder than their normal voice, I stopped typing and asked her what she was up to.

Her response: “I’m making up stories like mommy.”  

Mine: “Oh yeah, what’s yours about?”

Her response…a very long tale about the Gruffalo.

It seems I am still mommying. It seems that you can in fact work both jobs, the mom job and the paying one. My kids get me 75% of their waking hours. That’s a pretty good deal if we were negotiating. I do not want the other 25% layered with guilt because I have to work. It shouldn’t be. We can do laundry and dishes and all the other work and still cherish their childhoods. And we can set aside the work and play instead if that’s what our family needs from us in the moment. It’s about balance. And it’s about a continual re-evaluation of your family’s course, to make sure you’re sailing in the right direction. I want my children to respect what I do, not just as their mom, but also as a human with talents to share with the rest of the world. You can’t live an all-or-nothing life as a mom. You just can’t.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Jamie Sumner

Jamie Sumner is the author of the middle-grade novel, Roll with It. Her second and third middle-grade novels with Atheneum Books for Young Readers will be coming out in 2020 and 2021. She is also the author of the nonfiction book on motherhood, Unboundand the forthcoming bookEat, Sleep, Save the Worldfor parents of children with special needs. She is also mom to a son with cerebral palsy and she writes and speaks about disability in literature. She loves stories that celebrate the grit and beauty in all kids. She and her family live in Nashville, Tennessee. Connect with her at Jamie-Sumner.com   

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

To the Mother of My Son’s Future Wife

In: Grown Children, Inspiration, Kids, Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
marriage, wife, husband, grown children, www.herviewfromhome.com

To the mother of my son’s future wife, I’m in the midst of dirty diapers and temper tantrums, but I do have days where I think about the future and what it will look like for my son. I wonder who he will be, what he will do and probably most of all, who he will love. I wonder about the type of woman he will bring home to meet us one day. I have my own thoughts on the type of person I wish my son would fall in love with, but we all know that the heart wants...

Keep Reading

Trading Fleeting Moments of Fame for Unshakeable Faith

In: Faith, Inspiration, Relationships
Trading Fleeting Moments of Fame for Unshakeable Faith www.herviewfromhome.com

The string quartet began playing Pachelbel, as my dad and I took our first steps down the aisle. I began to lose my composure as we proceeded to the altar. Hundreds of guests had their eyes on me as tears streamed down my face. Struggling to look my future in the eyes, I looked to the ground for reprieve. God, everything around me looks perfect, so why doesn’t this feel right? I’m not sure how I got here. The flame once dancing inside of me, has extinguished. Lord, I need you. Dad squeezed my hand gently, “Are you OK sweetie?”...

Keep Reading

Children Don’t Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger

In: Inspiration, Mental Health, Motherhood
Children Don't Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger www.herviewfromhome.com

“This too shall pass.” As mothers, we cling to these words as we desperately hope to make it past whichever parenting stage currently holds us in its clutches. In the thick of newborn motherhood, through night wakings, constant nursing and finding our place in an unfamiliar world, we long for a future filled with more sleep and less crying. We can’t imagine any child or time being more difficult than right now. Then, a toddler bursts forth, a tornado of energy destroying everything in his wake. We hold our breath as he tests every possible limit and every inch of...

Keep Reading

This North Dakota Homecoming Queen is Capturing Hearts Everywhere

In: Inspiration, Kids, School, Teen
This North Dakota Homecoming Queen is Capturing Hearts Everywhere www.herviewfromhome.com

When Paula and Kevin Burckard’s third child was born, she arrived with a little something extra the North Dakota couple never saw coming.  Newborn Grace had Down syndrome, and the diagnosis initially left the young parents devastated. “When Grace was born, I thought all my dreams for my daughter had basically been dashed,” Paula said.  But it didn’t take long for those fears to subside.  As Grace grew, not only did she meet and surpass milestones, her infectious joy, inspirational grit, and deep love of all things Michael Jackson transformed the family—and countless hearts. The Burckhards went on to adopt...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, When I Forget What It’s Like To Be Little

In: Child, Inspiration, Kids, Motherhood
Hey Mom, Don't Forget—You Were a Kid Once, Too www.herviewfromhome.com

The kids were squealing in the backseat. For the five minutes prior they were begging me to spill the beans on where we were going as I had only told them to get their shoes, get in the car and buckle up. It’s one of the ways I’ve learned to make a simple trip out of the house one that is a mysterious adventure to them. As we took left and right turns away from our house, they were trying to guess where we were going . . . and when we finally pulled up to a brand new playground...

Keep Reading

My Children Deserve To See the Whole Me, Not Just the Mom Me

In: Inspiration, Journal, Motherhood
My Children Deserve To See the Whole Me, Not Just the Mom Me www.herviewfromhome.com

Before I was a mother, I was a human being. A human being with life experiences, passions, fears, talents, hobbies, goals, friends and aspirations that I cherished and tried to honor. Even though I went through a variety of seasons of life . . . from school-age days, to working adult, to wife . . . those things always stayed with me. I stayed open to evolving, but never let go of who I inherently was. Then came motherhood. And suddenly I found myself abandoning my commitment to remain true to me, and leaving any semblance of myself in the...

Keep Reading

My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy: Simplicity

In: Inspiration, Journal
My Mother-in-Law's Legacy: Simplicity www.herviewfromhome.com

The memories of my mother-in-law spilled to the forefront of my mind, just as the contents of his jacket pocket fell onto our dresser. It was Proverbs 31, written on hotel stationery, in my neatest block print. Holding the small papers in my hand brought me right back to her graveside, on a hot summer morning, seven years ago. “Her children arise and call her blessed.” (verse 28) As my second daughter gave a mighty kick from the womb, visible to every mourner present that day, I couldn’t help but to allow my mind to wander. Were my values apparent...

Keep Reading

A Car Accident Left My Teenager Paralyzed—and Incredibly Fierce

In: Inspiration, Journal
A Car Accident Left My Teenager Paralyzed—and Incredibly Fierce www.herviewfromhome.com

I drove back from my son’s college concert near midnight. Exhausted, I glanced at my 14-year-old daughter, Beth, asleep in the passenger seat. We were only 10 minutes from home. I thought I could make it until I heard a road sign flatten on concrete. As the car flipped three times across a bare Ohio field, we left behind an ordinary life. I escaped with cuts, bruises, and blood-matted hair. Beth was another story. The car was cut open and a helicopter rushed her to Toledo. A doctor told my husband John that she was paralyzed. When John broke the news...

Keep Reading

Dear Mama, You’re Allowed To Not Be There

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Dear Mama, You're Allowed To Not Be There www.herviewfromhome.com

Friday afternoon was not much crazier than most afternoons. My husband was mowing the lawn, my daughter was hangry and my youngest son was due to be in a talent show in twenty minutes. I stood in the kitchen—where it seemed like I’d been for an hour—trying to motivate my family to eat dinner and get ready to go. “Get dressed, Jude. Make sure you eat something.” “Dean, do you want a slice of pizza before we leave?” I screamed over the lawn mower. “Maeve, are you going to the optional soccer practice or the talent show? You need to...

Keep Reading