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Heads Up

April 16, 2008

“But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the One who holds my head high” (Psalm 3:3).

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was still in college. I was excited at the thought of being a mother – sort of. At the time, Hugh and I were both in school and the only money we made was from his tutoring. He charged fifteen dollars an hour to teach local students math and chemistry – our total monthly income was around five hundred dollars.

It seemed like a good idea for me to take a teaching job that fall. After all, the small Christian school in Boston was eager to have me, and I was eager to contribute financially to our small household. Hugh got a job with a nearby scientific instruments company, and together we made more than five hundred a month.

After I had Jon-David in early winter, I returned to my class. There was an on-site daycare, and I would go and nurse him during my breaks. I had to get up extremely early to get everything prepared for my day – diaper bag, lesson plans ready, coffee, one minute prayer time while brushing my teeth, half a bagel in my mouth as I rushed out the door before seven o’clock with my tiny son into heavy Boston traffic.

I felt like I was living two very full lives. In one life, I was a new mom. My body was still out of whack, I was bleeding, and nursing wasn’t easy. Jon-David was not a very attached baby, and I spent time before and after work (and during work on my breaks) holding him, singing to him, trying to make eye contact with him. At home, I would strip him down to his diaper and hold him against my bare skin, hoping he would start to connect more with me.

My other life was full, too. I had a class of wonderful fifth graders who wanted my full attention both in and out of the classroom. I wanted to plan exciting activities and units for them, but once I had Jon-David – I just became too tired.

Once I planned a trip to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I spent exactly one minute planning the trip – and our class wandered from exhibit to exhibit with very little direction from me. I was exhausted – I had been up three times the previous night with my baby, and I simply didn’t care about the Egyptian art on display.

I ended the year with a resolve to come home. I couldn’t make it work. I loved teaching, but I was divided. Jon-David needed more of me, and I knew that I had to surrender to this new phase.

Once home, however, I become upset with myself that I had put Jon-David in daycare at all. Perhaps it had been the wrong choice. Maybe I never should have taught in the first place.

It was the beginning of my battle with mommy guilt.

This morning I continued to pray about my nervousness about my teaching observation tomorrow. Why am I so tense about something I should be able to do with relative ease? I haven’t taught in a few years, but I haven’t been locked up in a small box either. I have been in front of people and have been in challenging situations – why is this throwing me so much?

“Lord,” I prayed, “I really want to understand. Why am I so scared?”

The Holy Spirit began to show me that my fears have very little to do with tomorrow – and everything to do with my deeper fear of failure. I feel like I failed before as a new mom and teacher. I struggled so much with my “work/life balance” when I had a newborn – what if I struggle again?

What if I can’t make it work?

I read Psalm 3 and realized that my head – my countenance – has been so low lately. I feel like I am 25 again, rushing out the door with a screaming baby to face a nine-hour work day. Even though this new situation wouldn’t be like that at all (my children are much older now; the school has a shorter day and week) – I am trapped in the past.

When I read that “You are my glory, the One who holds my head high” – I realized that I don’t need to be afraid. God WILL hold my head high. I can trust Him. The Message says that “You, God, shield me on all sides.”

All sides. God is enveloping His love and His Presence completely around me as I enter something new. He is my Shield, out in front, protecting me and caring for me.

Instead of keeping my head on the floor, crying and saying, “Oh, but Lord, remember how hard it was back then… I just don’t think I can do it…” I will daily declare that HE is holding my head high. I can be confident in the One who is calling and leading me into His purposes for my life.

You, Lord, are a shield about me. I love you. Thank you for teaching me through my failures and my successes. I pray that you would come, Holy Spirit, and be my Counselor every day. I want to learn to depend on you more. You are so wonderful. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2008 12:25 pm

    Thank you for this. I struggle quite frequently with the “Mommy Guilt”

  2. April 17, 2008 12:25 pm

    Praying for you! I LOVE that He is a shield about us. I feel like so much of life is a fight! So glad he loves to protect us. We just have to see it and believe it. You are. 🙂

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