By Emily Pilkington
Four friends and I gathered in the corner booth of a lowlit restaurant, slowly sipping wine and taking our time with appetizers. The night was a rare treat of eating food while it was still hot, enjoying adult conversation rather than sibling squabbles, and cutting only the food we ourselves would consume. One of my friends apologized for her extended friendship absence. Each of us exchanged knowing looks and nods of understanding. Our dinner date had been rescheduled five different times because of illness, appointments, work demands, and a six year-old’s broken elbow. Fifteen children were at home with a combination of dads, grandmas, and babysitters. It wasn’t hard to figure out why our once-frequent girl’s nights were now a complicated luxury.
We went around the table catching the group up on life while entrées arrived. As each person talked, I was struck by one reoccurring theme in the midst of stark contrasts. It didn’t matter whether my friends worked full-time, part-time, or stayed at home. It didn’t matter if their kids were school-aged or tiny, whether they had five kids or one. It didn’t matter if they breastfed, used formula, or spent every spare moment they could pumping in an office closet. Every single person described their life as busy and out of balance. Each of us were wrestling with what it meant to be a good mom and a whole person. Each of us felt like we fell short of the ideal version of what life, work, and motherhood were supposed to be about.
Much has been written about the phenomena represented at our table. Some might critique it as millennial angst rooted in unrealistic expectations about life’s realities and hardships. Some might blame social media. Some might tell us we need to hustle more. Some might tell us we need to hustle less.
Most of these sources would lead us to believe that our struggles are products of circumstance, and that the solution can be found in an influencer’s five-step program or a self-help book at our local Barnes and Noble. Most of these sources would also encourage us to stick with our own faction of moms, the only group that (1) really understands our struggles and trials unique to us and (2) agrees that ours is the most challenging path and also the most right.
While some of these critiques might be fair, and while a well-placed life hack or two might prove helpful, I think God’s Word offers something far more transcendent and encouraging. His multi-faceted vision for vocation that’s rooted in love for God and love for neighbor has proven to be far more helpful than anything else I’ve encountered when it comes to wrestling with the inherent tension between the relationships I’m in and work he’s called me to.