Working moms are everyday superheroes. They juggle multiple schedules, tasks, and worlds, making sure their families are cared for and their jobs and managers are satisfied. Not every mom has to contend with four children under the age of four, though. 4word woman and author, Elizabeth Knox, talked with us about how she’s adjusting to her new role of “mom to four.”
4word: How did you and your family react to the news of TWO little babies joining your family?
Elizabeth: It makes me laugh just to think about it! The day my husband and I went for the first ultrasound, we had a babysitter watch our two older children.
Andy and our sitter, Christi, were joking about having twins. I just glared at them. If it were my first pregnancy, I would have thought twins would be so exciting, but knowing how hard it is to take care of one baby at a time, just the thought of twins made me exhausted!
So imagine my surprise when the ultrasound tech showed us the screen and said “Here’s your baby, and here’s your other baby!”
Andy was thrilled and was whooping it up! I’ll be honest that my immediate thoughts were “What?? We’ll need a new car, we’ll need a new house, how will we pay for childcare, orthodontia, college??”
After a few minutes, though, the wonder of it all set in too.
Andy and I went to the National Arboretum (our “spot”) and spent time praising God for two little lives and praying about what that meant for our family.
In early February, when our older son was 3 years and 3 months old, and our younger son was 20 months old, I gave birth to these these beauties.
4word: What has changed in your life, now that the twins are here?
Elizabeth: Like I’d imagine most moms do, I have moments of absolute delight and moments of absolute desperation. And now those feelings of delight (like watching my one year old reading to his little sister) and desperation (when one of my sons wakes up both babies that I’d just gotten to sleep) are amplified x4!
I’m prioritizing even more than I did when I had one child, or two. Just loving our children takes a lot of time: being available, listening, holding. Then there are normal life functions: they need to eat, get dressed, go to the bathroom, go to sleep. Even our three year old is not self-sufficient at any of those things, and as many parents of young children will tell you, none of those life functions happens quickly! So for right now, what has changed is that my life is pretty much all about small children. I sometimes make time to go for a walk or to text a friend, but I don’t have time for much else.
But I also know this is a season. When I had my first child, I was so overwhelmed and felt like I’d never get to exercise again, or meet up with friends. Things with small children are usually pretty busy, but now I know the intensity of these first months are especially strong, but they will ease. I’ve found ways to work in little things that make me feel human and know that I’ll be able to do more of that as time goes on.
4word: Has being a mother been something you’ve always wanted?
Elizabeth: Kind-of-sort-of. I always thought I would have children, but I was also okay not having them. Until Andy and I got engaged, I didn’t know if I was going to get married. So I was building a fun, full life of work, church, friends, family. I hoped to add a husband, and eventually children, but I was okay if that didn’t happen too.
Andy definitely wanted children, so I knew that in deciding to marry him, children – either biological or adopted – would be part of my life. I never thought we’d have this many, at least not biologically, and certainly not this fast! But I’ve always admired moms of ‘larger families’ – they seemed to have a peace about them that I’m guessing just comes from really, really, really realizing that you can’t control it all, can’t make it all perfect, and are always managing highs and lows, knowing that each will pass. I feel honored to get the chance to parent them!
4word: How have you balanced being a mom to #4under4 with being a professional woman? Has your workflow been affected in any way?
Elizabeth: Right now, the girls are 12 weeks old, and I’m just slowly starting re-entry at work. For the last two years I’d been working three days per week, and I am hoping to continue that, maybe even with shorter days.
I remind myself often that I have at least another 30 years to work. So if this doesn’t feel like my strongest season professionally, I’ll have time to work back up to that later.
My workflow in life has definitely changed. It takes me considerably longer to do anything! There’s a good chance that one of my children has a very legitimate, very urgent need at any given moment, and it’s not uncommon that only Mama will do. Whether it is trying to brush my teeth or to empty the dishwasher, I usually have a few “false starts” where I try to do something, I get pulled away, and it takes a while until I can come back. I feel like I start any calls/emails/texts these days with the words “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you…” but thankfully people have been understanding.
I’m someone who prides myself on my productivity and right now I do not feel very productive. But I need to remember that I am accomplishing something: raising human beings. So while my to-do list grows and I feel like I’m not firing on all cylinders professionally, in the grand scheme of things, I’m working on something very important!
One thing I have managed to get done is to work with the fantastic team here at 4word to do the final touches of the Faith Powered Profession Study Guide that is just now available! It accompanies my book – Faith Powered Profession – and is a great way for individual women or small groups do dig deeper into the chapters and think through their own ways to weave together their work and their faith.
4word: How do you stay focused and present, both at work and at home?
Elizabeth: Each one, work and home, refreshes me from the other. Just managing breakfast and getting small people dressed is a marathon. I’m usually pretty relieved to have some space at work, to use different skills and talk with different people. But then at the end of the day, I’m tired of spreadsheets and office frustrations and am ready for giggles, wrestling, snuggles, and books. Right now I’m fortunate to be able to work part time, which works well for my family and keeps me more available for them while also being engaged in the workforce. I enjoy having both – and knowing that I have the “other one” waiting for me keeps me focused on the one I’m with.
4word: What advice would you share about being a working mom?
Elizabeth: It’s the same advice I’d offer to any working woman: get to know God better, get to know His priorities, make sure you are ordering your life around His priorities. I try to remember to ask God for my daily bread: enough grace for the moment with either my children or my colleagues, enough attention to do a good job on the task at-hand, enough humor to roll with the punches, and enough dependence on God to love the people He has put into my life with His love.
We hope that Elizabeth’s story gave all of you working moms (and dads) hope! You can do it and you will be successful. Just gather your community around you and trust that God will give you strength.
If you’d like to order the Faith Powered Profession Study Guide, click here!
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Elizabeth Knox lives in Washington, DC where she works in the defense field. She is the author of Faith Powered Profession and blogs for professional Christian women at Elizabeth Knox Online. She and her husband Andrew have 4 small children, including a brand new set of twin girls!