Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The stay at home/working debate

Abigail and Papa at the Christmas tree lighting

This is my 50th post so I will attempt to make it a good one. :)
Who has things harder? This is a debate (I admittingly hate) that has gone on since woman started contributing to America's workforce many years ago. If you are reading this because you think I'm going to make a sweeping statement that shows which side is right you should give up and walk away. I am not going to do that.
I will start with some thoughts. There are few places in the world where I as a woman who chooses to stay at home and take care of our daughter (and house, and laundry, and dishes, and on and on) have to defend that. America is one of them. It baffles me how people attempt to make stay at home moms feel shameful. I was checking my daughter in before her MRI. The woman asking questions got to "Are you employed?" I answered "I take care of her" to which she responded by sighing loudly and saying "So you are unemployed." I was annoyed. Not because I care what she thought of me. I will never see her again. Because she apparently didn't see any value in someone staying at home with their child. I fit only the description of "unemployed." I will agree that I don't contribute to the gross national income. I will not agree that I fit the description of unemployed.
So then we also have this catch 22 here in the United States. If you are a mother and you are in some way part of the workforce, you are made to feel bad. Don't you care about your children? Or even some people who say things like, "I didn't have children to let someone else raise them." So I will defend this by saying we have a wonderful female doctor. She has two children. I don't know who cares for them while she is working. I do know that I am thankful that she is a doctor. She is amazing and has made having a child with special health care needs a smoother transition, and being a first time mom easier. So that is my biggest defense of an amazing working mother.
Beyond that there are all sort of little categories people use to defend their position in life being the hardest. Single parenting, parenting multiples, large families, parenting children with special needs...the list continues to go on. So I will now follow with some of my thoughts on who really has it the hardest.
Life is around 25% choices you make, 25% things that happen beyond your control, and 50% how you respond to the choices you made and the things that have happened (those numbers are completely arbitrary, I made them up for the purpose of my example). Anyway because of that the person who has it the hardest is the person who chooses to respond in anger, bitterness, sulking, and whining.
You see I know single moms who are amazing. They work, take care of their children, and manage their lives with joy and smiles. They have bad days, and they are allowed that. I know parents who have lost small children. Once again their response to the situation is what makes their lives "not the hardest."
I could choose to sulk because of how "unfair" things seem to be for us. I even do choose to sulk sometimes. However on the days that I choose joy and laughter I feel like I may not have the hardest life. I may have a wonderful life filled with immeasurable blessings. I have an awesome husband who is attractive, funny, and a wonderful provider. He is also an AMAZING papa. I have a beautiful little girl who makes me laugh all the time. I have a nice home, enough money to pay bills, buy food, and sometimes do something extra (like get a coke from McDonald's). I have a car. I could continue to list things, but I think you get the idea. I do not have the hardest life.
Parenting is hard. Their is no doubt or argument about that. No matter if you stay at home or work at the local grocery store. Lots of people have children, but to truly parent is a task that is not for those who are faint in heart. To parent means to put every ounce of your heart and strength (and sanity some days) into a small being who will at some point break your heart. Even if it is not on purpose. It might be easier to be passive and allow Abigail to break the c.d. player instead of spanking her five times a day for touching it. However if I don't teach her self control now (or at least work towards it) what does that mean when she is 5, 10, or even 20? What does that look like. So what I am saying here is as far as parenting is concerned, parents have it the hardest.

A little side note for my friends who are still walking through infertility. I am in no way trying to say my job as a parent is harder than infertility struggles. I too was there, and will some day want a second child. Your task of having your heart long for a child is incredibly painful. I am praying for all of you.

Loving staying at home,


  1. There is another debate about whether a stay-at-home-wife is "doing anything." It's far more acceptable for a woman to stay home if she has children to take care of. It's nearly unheard of for a wife to stay at home if there are no children. I have a friend who did just that before her daughter was born. She kept house, gardened, cooked, volunteered, did crafts, and probably lots of other things. But people didn't know what to think of that. She was not lazy, and her husband was able to provide for them both financially. But it is generally thought that if you are a married woman without children, you certainly should be in out earning money. That's a thought I certainly disagree with. When we are out of debt, the plan is that I will no longer work -- at least not full time. I will stay home and do all the things I want to be doing now -- baking bread, making our home clean and pretty, and trying to grow more of our own food.
    I didn't mean to take over your blog, but I thought it was another thought that tied in with yours.

  2. I think the same thing...I have a friend who decided to stay home as soon as she got married...her mom thought her crazy! I thought it was wonderful that she was caring for their home, and being able to do things like volunteer and have energy at the end of the day to hang out with her husband. Thanks for the addition...

  3. I've always joked (before and after having kids) that the jobs I would choose to have don't pay any money. I think you both have made the point very well. The jobs that are most important in life (loving people, especially in practical ways) do not come with financial benefit.

    There is so much need for people who have time in our culture! I was just talking with an older (but certainly not old!) friend of mine who discovered God may be freeing her not to be "employed" right now. She's thinking about babysitting for free so that couples can go on dates or having mentor relationships with younger women -- both things I would love to have in my life.

    The Bible tells us all to "practice hospitality." It is difficult to welcome people into your home when you're never really in it yourself. I wish our culture valued hospitality enough to value the people who do not get paid in order to pursue practicing it. Our culture at large fails in this area, but I am glad to see a discussion that raises the value of it taking place in a Christian circle.


  4. Well said Lezlie. I can't answer the door and find a smiling old man there to tell me about life if I'm not home.

  5. Hi, just wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog. I'm so happy the Lord lead you to our story of Ethan's Journey through JMML. We had to endure it, though I'm soooo happy you do not, but the good news of it all is that we COULD endure it because of the grace and mercy of God. There is always hope. No matter the statistics. In fact, we just stopped listening to all the stats about his risks/illness. And just decided to trust God. Thankfully, He saw fit to answer our prayers! Feel free to stop by any time :)