The Two-Career Conundrum

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In Matthew Chapter 6*, Jesus discusses a person’s inability to serve two masters, but I would have to respectfully disagree – that is, if we are to consider the two-career conundrum that mothers who wish to work outside of the home face. Mothers, of course, seek or return to an external occupation for various reasons, but the emotional, psychological, and, often, physical ties to their children never diminish. If a woman is to contribute to the world vocationally, she must bear the weight of an additional career and somehow find a balance between the two.

For myself, this looks an awful lot like a hangover. My eyes are perpetually darkened from the endless nights spent planning, grading, and emailing. My gastrointestinal system can never quite reach equilibrium with inconsistent food access and the adrenaline required to fuel my days. My short-term memory and mental capacity too often fail me. But, oh, the high from the perfect, unplanned moments of motherhood…

Today marks my return to the working world after five glorious months of maternity leave. I am elated at the thought of a new semester and how I will learn alongside young minds in the coming months. In truth, my husband and I could enjoy a high quality of life on his salary alone, but the greater conversation that can only transpire in your own classroom is one that motivates me to juggle a career inside AND outside of home.

It gives me hope for the future.

It gives me hope for my children.

It gives me hope that my life’s work matters.

After my son was born, I embraced my time as a stay-at-home-mother, which lasted his entire first year of life. I think all mothers get stirrings in their hearts, and mine was very clear: the world out there needs you. This, I would argue, became even more apparent when I was called with a job opportunity for which I never applied – a position that would allow me to also be “mom”. I couldn’t refuse.

Perhaps I will miss a milestone in the months to come, a “first something”, when I am discussing environmental health research with a flock of millennials. Perhaps one of my children, febrile and ill, will fall asleep against my shoulder as I hold office hours. This doesn’t mean that I’ve failed – it means that I am trading the comforts of today for the promise of tomorrow. If I am investing in another life, I am mothering. And, in this truth, there is great peace.

Life offers no easy answers, and I like to think we all know our limits as well as our callings. For this season, I shall savor what a double career load offers: two opportunities to serve and love those who will live on long after I do. I can only dream that they, too, will find something worth pursuing so tirelessly.

*Matthew 6:24a

One thought on “The Two-Career Conundrum

  1. Pingback: A Hybrid Motherhood – Unlearning

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