Summer... When Kids are Carefree and Working Mothers … Aren’t

OK.  Summer is almost here. I should be excited. I am excited.  I look forward to seeing my kids carefree, playing in the sprinklers, and determining that this is surely the summer they will figure out how to do the perfect back flip into the pool.  (Anyone else cringe at that one?  Or am I the only mom who has images of broken noses and banged heads dancing in her brain?)

So summer is almost here and I’m excited for my kids, and yet… Every working mothers knows the worry that creeps in around the corners.  How on earth are we going to make it all happen?  I want the kids to feel carefree even if I am not.

Just yesterday my 6th grade daughter started telling me all of the things she wanted to do and accomplish this summer. Some were simple — like finish the last book in the long series she’s been reading (actually, for her, the trick is getting her to stop reading!).  Some were admirable – like learning how to sew up holes in her clothes on her own (I think just maybe a few of my choice comments had something to do with that).

Others, though, made my heart start to race and little beads of sweat begin to form on my brow…these were the things that required huge time commitments on my part…things that she should get to do…things that I should try to, one way or another, figure out how to help her achieve.  So the question remains – HOW? How can I be an involved mom providing carefree summer fun for the kids and still accomplish what I need to do, professionally?

In writing the book and bible study The Life Ready Woman I saw very clearly that I cannot try to do it all, all at the same time, without major stress for me – and ultimately everyone around me.  God did not wire us that way.   We need to make good choices.  We need to learn how to prioritize – which was, in the end, a big part of the Bible Study.  And for me, I know that God has some priorities for me this summer that include work outcomes, and some that include time with my husband and kids.

Let’s talk about work, first.  Most of my stay-at-home mom friends are very sympathetic to the stress that working moms feel during the summer, but I once had a SAHM mom at an event tell me, with something like pity, that the solution was clear: I had to stop working. She shared her heart for a few minutes, and I appreciated her passion, but as I watched her walk away, I thought to myself: You should understand that for many people, that isn’t a real solution. And not just because of professional pride.   Sometimes that just isn’t God’s solution – in part because we have a specific professional calling to accomplish, and also for the purely practical reason that there are others depending on us.

Like many of you, I simply have people depending on me at work – we know the reality that in this economy, we’re all pulling together to meet deadlines or do a good job on our projects.  If my friend Marsha doesn’t see a certain number of counseling clients each day, even during the summer, less revenue comes in and the whole team takes a cut in salary.  If my friend Sandra doesn’t deliver the project her division is waiting on, her division ultimately has to shrink and six months from now, two or three people will lose their jobs.  And me… if I don’t do a good job on my speaking engagements and book deadlines, what happens to the salaries of my employees?  A team that has busted their tail for me for years?  Yes, they are engaged and invested in the ministry, to see God’s purposes unfold– but they are also depending on those salaries to pay college tuition, pay the rent, feed their kids.   God has established this ministry – it certainly wasn’t my doing! – and has therefore called me to be an employer.  Just like I need to run the race well with my family, I need to run the race well with my ministry.  The two certainly aren’t ‘equal’ in priority, but since they are both callings, I know He’ll provide a way for us moms to navigate this challenge, this summer.

For those of you who do work during the summer (either outside the home or from home), how do you juggle this delightful but unusual time of year?