It’s a fact that my husband and sons are often hugging me hello or kissing me goodbye.
I’m the center they all come back to and revolve around. Wife or mother.
That seems pretty important to me. Why would I give that up for a paycheck or some kind of prestige that fades with the length of my career?
My role, my chosen career of stay-at-home mom is so unimportant in society’s eyes as to have become nearly invalid. Yes, I do feel a little defensive about it. Okay, a lot defensive. Not because of my pride, but because of the deterioration in our culture. The fact that it will likely be a whole lot more run down by the time my grand children inherit the reins to society. I feel protective of this calling.
If your’e wondering what I could possibly mean, then I’m guessing you have failed to notice entire neighborhoods that stand silent and empty during the day and most of the evening. Quite simply because no-one is home. There aren’t mothers, grandparents, or aunties front porch sitting, looking out for everyone’s property and children. Because there aren’t any children around. They are in after school programs, daycares, or else home alone behind shuttered windows in front of a screen. I trace this back to the issue of not valuing mothers at home. Of being indifferent to family in general.
I don’t pretend to have solutions for those who don’t have a choice. I feel ya, I was there for a time myself 20 years ago. But listen, God hears prayers. He leads those with young gently the scriptures say. (Is. 40:11) I have the experience to tell you that’s so true.
But back to my point…
Having the choice to stay home and nurture the little people (as well as the big), means for some of us, that we choose to make do with less stuff. Personally I feel that stuff gluts us up anyway, and we’re better off with less. Too much stuff constipates us. In every sense that word implies. Many times the craving for that stuff is what gets us chained to a job anyway: credit card debt, newer, bigger cars, a boat, a pool, a thousand new shoes Imelda Marcos. Or any other thing. It doesn’t have to be shoes. Have you seen the show Hoarders? Hello.
Listen, we’re the only country as far as I know, where people literally eat themselves to death. Have you seen episodes of My 600 Pound Life? Really? In a world where people starve to death this seems sick and twisted even more than it seems sad. And it is sad.
We go into debt buying stuff that doesn’t fit in our houses, no matter how enormous they are. So we pay for storage units to store stuff we don’t use and have no room for. We are a people of excesses but a people suffering from spiritual poverty, always feeling a sense of lack. We accumulate and we are lonely. Our relationships with other humans suffer, or they dissolve. Then we medicate ourselves. To excess, naturally. It’s a nasty little cycle. One that effects generation after generation, yet we go on, with little thought for those coming after us. It is, after all, the age of selfies and self-affirmations.
Surely my happiness is at stake? And yet, who among us is happy in the rat race?
Maybe a little more doing without wouldn’t hurt us? A little less self? A little more tying on an apron and baking a casserole, tossing a salad and requiring the family to sit down together and checking in with each other in the evenings? A little more hospitality and getting to know our neighbors and less entertaining ourselves in isolation? Perhaps less activities and shuttling children around to avoid having to relate intimately with them?
A hell of a lot less sitting in the same room on different screens.
A little more cultivating a garden, taking long walks, engaging a child’s mind, and a little less $30 lipsticks and getting everything waxed before the all-important gym time.
I feel that if I can reign in a bit of my own self indulgence and unhealthy cravings, I will build something worth the next generations adding to. A strong family. (Proverbs 14:1)
It’s a career in management, creativity and care-taking I have chosen. Just merely being here, creating a safe, comforting space for my husband and children, and my darling grand girl, is an important job. Yes, it means setting aside personal ambitions sometimes. I often remember Tasha Tudor’s quote :
“I enjoy doing housework, ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionaires and they ask what is your profession, I always put down housewife. It’s an admirable profession, why apologize for it. You aren’t stupid because you’re a housewife. When you’re stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare.”
So do many other women in my chosen field apparently, because it’s a popular quote. Because it’s true, and Ms. Tudor had the guts to say it. She had the guts to live it.
You can accomplish so much if you’re creative and resourceful. You can live a rich life, and your children will benefit every way imaginable. You have to be willing to slow down and learn to be content. And you have to place value on your family.
I’d rather be stirring cheese curds than jam, but the idea is the same. I don’t watch soaps or talks shows unless I’m sick in bed and that is very rare. My time is spent learning, creating, reading, and researching when I’m not kissing boo boos and talking deep thoughts with a teenager. Or when I’m not tending the goats and sheep or making cheese.
One of my sons recently said he would like to have a wife similar to me. What he meant was he wanted a wife who would make a home and be available. That right there, made a lot of things worthwhile. You betcha. So often, we don’t feel appreciated and we are taken for granted. Well, so is everyone else so get over it.
I’ve had a job outside of my home, and I’ve had the wearying life of running to daycare to leave my children with strangers before work, sludging for 8 hours then running back to daycare to pick up my children, and then the grocery store. Buckle them back into their carseats to head home and cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry, clean up, do homework, baths and bedtime rituals and then start it all over again.
Whew. I’m tired remembering the routine.
These days most have just done away with cooking dinner and go through a drive through and shovel that down their throats while driving to sports practice. Kids are getting into bed at 10 pm and the whole thing is repeated the next day and the next. This doesn’t seem healthy.
Thank goodness those emotionally lean years only lasted a few years for me and my family. The Lord directed and we followed and settled down to a way that required less running and more staying. I mean that in so many ways. Let the word staying roll around in your mind and on your tongue. Say it out loud. Really.
If you can figure out a way to stay home, I encourage you to do it. It’s harder than you think. Nobody is going to pat you on the back for it outside of your immediate family. As a matter of fact you’ll probably get condescending remarks and downright insults on occasion. I have. But you hitch up your little wagon anyway, and tend, build, and create. Your house will become a cozy home and your days will be shorter. You’ll be tired. It’s harder work than going to a job. Honest. If you’re doing well at it that is.
You’ll find yourself at the end of your career feeling satisfied, your work having been validated in the fruit of your family. You will have built something you can be proud of. Then you’ll have someone to pass the baton too while you put up your feet and start making a career out of one of your many hobbies. I believe wholeheartedly in hobbies. Keep yourself interesting and bring your children along on your way to learning whatever you can about whatever you want. Having a varied diet of interests and hobbies is life giving to my mind.
Make your home a center of learning and a place everyone, especially your husband, is glad to come back to. Full of life and warmth, a feeling of safety. It will continue drawing your family with a place to come when they want inspiration, acceptance, and that comfort of home and hearth that only a place truly lived in can provide.
Making a true home is a fine calling. Don’t let anyone bully you out of it. Do what you have to do in order to protect that place at the center where you live. Don’t let fear, opinions, or an addiction to stuff stop you from your mission. Stand firm – on your front porch, in an apron if your’e brave enough, available to hug your people off into the world and welcome them back when they need the nurture of home. It’s a hard world out there. Home is of inestimable value.
I’d rather be here, getting hugged hello and kissed goodbye, the center of their world, than getting empty accolades in the world, while my family disintegrates and gets absorbed into the cog of a culture nearly bereft of compassion, real truth, and godly values.
I’m here, so they can go out and accomplish their callings and be everything they are meant to be. I’m not sacrificing myself for this. I’m daily enriched myself. It’s a privilege not afforded to all. I’m grateful. Every day. Even on my worst day. Because there are bad days. Everyone has them. But on my worst day I’m still here. Still available. Because it’s my calling.
And that means something to me. Because it means something to them. Maybe teenagers don’t appreciate it for lengths of time, but as teens become adults and get hard knocks in life, they value having a home- a mother- to come to, so they can rest and absorb strength and comfort again; powering up to get back out there and kick life’s overabundant butt.
These ares my morning ramblings as I drink a cappuccino made with raw goat milk from my herd. Yes, that’s weird. I don’t mind being weird as you know if you read my blog or are a close neighbor. But this essay on family, this bit of weird, was created on a nice MacBook Pro purchased with the proceeds from the sale of 3 goats. Doesn’t that sound so 3rd world? Middle ages? It makes me smile. I’m resourceful. I make do with less but I have plenty. I’m not suffering and my family is thriving, so I guess I’ll keep on as I am, Lord willing.
If you stay home for your people, I’d like to hear about it. If you don’t have the ability but wish you could, I pray you will have the opportunity if you desire it.
Maybe I feel so strongly about it because family means so much to me. Marriage means so much to me. Below is a picture of my great great grandparents. Presumably before they were divorced. Because all of my family in the generations behind me have been divorced and broken for over 100 years. So far a few of my cousins and I seem to be doing better. But it’s taken over a century to break that cycle.
It took staying.