Anyone re-entering the workplace after taking time to pursue other goals — college, family, or writing the next Great American Novel — knows that finding the ramp back to the fast track can be a daunting experience. (For those who live in Michigan, it’s more of a “painfully slow” track, but I digress.)
Coming up with a plausible explanation for any gaps in the resume is one thing; being able to articulate how these non-revenue-producing endeavors have contributed to one’s personal bottom line is something else.
So this past week, I’ve been thinking about my vocation as a wife and mother, and above all as a child of God. Even the word “vocation” is more complex for me now than it was when I was single. It is infinitely easier to look “together” and “successful” without a captive audience to witness those less-together moments. As a single adult, I led the worship team and managed sixty projects a year. As a wife and mother, I sat in the church’s “cry room” and aspired to a shower before dinner.
Here’s the thing: As time went on, I discovered more than a little overlap in the life lessons I”ve learned between the “two me’s.” For example:
One day at a time. Projecting too far into the future based on one’s present circumstances can be problematic for mothers and editors alike. As a new mother, I had to pull focus from “building a writer’s platform” and concentrate on the immediate challenges at hand (like getting that aforementioned shower). My kids needed me to be fully present.
Now this lesson takes a very different form: I try not to obsess over the “big picture” of what God has planned for my life. Instead, day by day I take up the challenge at hand, always trying to remain attentive to that still, small voice of the Spirit. A Spirit who often speaks to me through my own family.
Rest in the knowledge that God knows me best, and loves me anyway. Like most people, I have at times wished that life had a rewind button. As a mom, I’ve cringed over my children’s boisterous behavior in public. My inner critic howled over the injustice of going from choir director to cry-room dropout in just a few short days.
Now, having come I’m through the worst of it, it’s alot easier to silence that inner critic where other people are concerned. Not that I have a flawless record. Like most people, I’ve said and done things that — in retrospect — were cringeworthy. And yet, my children have taught me something about God’s unconditional love, which helps me to extend tolerance and grace to others.
The Iceberg Principle: Human beings are like icebergs: There’s a lot more than meets the eye. These “hidden mysteries” inform and motivate both our actions and reactions. However, with time and effort it is possible to develop an instinctive sense of the “danger zones.”
For example, I can always tell when one of my children “forgets” to take a certain medicine or has had a bad night. The brother-sister banter is edgier, with shriller howls of protest. Cereal turns to mush as the kid in question makes umpteen trips to and from the breakfast nook. Directions go unheard and unheeded. As the mom, I understand why this kid is acting like a gerbil on crack. It’s not intentional, but aggravating nevertheless.
The Iceberg Principle applies in the workplace as well, motivating us to invest on a personal level with those on our “team.” If we fail to do this, behavior that a friend might interpret to be “collaborative” (or “proactive”), to a casual acquaintence might seem “lazy” (or “egotistical”). Misunderstandings (or being misunderstood) is an occupational hazard for those who refuse to map out those hidden layers.
What do you think? Have you made the transition from stay-at-home to either work-from-home or work-away-from-home? If so . . . are there any aspects of parenting that have made you a more valuable employee?