I get asked this question often when I am at the park midday with my daughter. I usually want to answer, “both”.
Where did this awful question come from?
I used to be ashamed to say I stayed at home. Prior to having my daughter I worked in an occupation that was filled with meetings and deadlines. I had business cards, attended luncheons, and networked at marketing functions. When I became pregnant, I prayed and pondered what I would do with my budding career. As the time came, God gave me the courage to quit my job and pursue a new occupation: being a mommy and a homemaker.
It wasn’t easy. For almost a year I felt ashamed to be at home. When people asked what I did I actually said, “I just stay at home”, waiting to hear the typical words. “Oh- you are so lucky. It must be so nice to have more time.” They were right about a few things. I felt so grateful to God and my husband that I was able to be with my baby. But I never felt like I had more time. That part always confused me. I wondered if I was failing at being a homemaker, because where was all this time people talked about?
I struggled with my identity for almost a full year. I tried to still work from home. I was deadset on making this blog a job that made me feel important. I even accepted one job offer and then turned it down at the last minute. In my heart I knew I what I wanted. I wanted to choose the calling of being home raising my daughter. I didn’t want to pay someone else to do it. I wanted to do it. But I felt so guilty for admitting this in a post-modern world where women can “do anything”. What would my career be? How would I feel worthy in a world that judges you by your success, IQ, or pay rank? I knew in my heart the answer- no one would find my work beautiful except for God, my husband, and maybe one day, my children.
And that is the truth. While I want praise from others the only praise I will be getting for washing dishes and folding laundry will be the gentle peace God will give me.
Having a two year old has changed my mind much on the matter. No longer do I feel guilty spending long days on the couch cuddling with my newborn. We are at it all day. She keeps me busy- juggling play dates, education, discipline, and keeping up with household chores and tasks. I know longer wonder where time goes. I know where it goes. It goes to the many, many, countless chores and errands I do. When I am not caring for my daughter via feeding, potty time, or bath time I am tending to her social or intellectual needs. I am busy training her, teaching her, loving her, and explaining to her EVERYTHING about the world. I could spend my entire day doing that alone, but I also try and keep the house at least kind of in order. Then there are bible studies sprinkled in, church on Sundays, parties and events we are invited to, and family time where we just hang out. I try and work out daily and spend time in the Word as well.
I am not complaining one bit. I love what I am privileged to do. What I am saying is that I fell less and less apologetic about choosing to stay home with my daughter as the days pass. Now I nanny twice a week, and I get to take my daughter with me. It is hard work, and often I am shoveling food in my mouth when I can and holding my own need to go pee just to keep an eye on those two. I recognize that the family pays me a pretty big portion of their paycheck to ensure their daughter is safe, loved, and receiving instruction and intellectual stimulation while I am there. I don’t throw on the television. We go to the park. We do flash cards. We play with babies and pretend food. I sing them the alphabet, teach them shapes, and do crafts with them.
If you chose to be a homemaker never apologize or shrug off your decision as something easy. It isn’t easy! At least it shouldn’t be if it is being done with diligence. I think our nation needs to do a better job at recognizing the important and challenging job mothers have. We are raising children for the next generation. Whether a working mom is doing it or a homemaking mother, all moms have an important and difficult job that goes without pay, requires overtime, and is often not praised. Single mothers- I am amazed by you. For real. Working mothers- I often wonder how you do it without a nap. I have so many friends who work and are rock star moms after working many hours. I have witnessed hard working mothers feel guilt about needing to go home early for parent-teacher conferences or taking a day off for a sick baby. I have seen first-hand in my old job moms being mocked for pumping on the job and actually being accused of trying to steal company time because of pumping. I am sorry- have you ever pumped?! No mom wants to sit in a quiet room pumping her boob for any length of time longer than it requires. I wish guys would try it once. They would shut up instantly. It is way easier to choose not to pump than to spend hundreds of dollars on pumping equipment to help provide nourishment for a newborn and pump two hours a day. End rant for all you moms who do that. Working mothers, single mothers, and stay at home mothers- we all have pressure that loads guilt upon us for doing what is right and loving for the most important people in our lives- our family.
There is no one in the world who has as much influence over their child as their mother. It is a humbling realization for me that my daughter wants my presence more than anyone else in the world. It is also a joyful and encouraging realization that God gave me such an important job only I can do. I need to be better about not complaining about my duties and instead doing them with gratitude.
Motherhood is a joyful calling I hope many will feel courageous enough to own. I have heard friends say they feel pressured to not use their entire maternity leave. I hope women stop feeling guilty about desiring to raise their children in a culture that often values work over family. That is my prayer for so many women I know. It has been a struggle for me in the past and one I am hoping God continues to give me grace and courage to persevere through. I really want to fight against the stereotype that being at home means I am lazy or have it easy, because it isn’t true. I am choosing to do it, and it is a struggle some days. Motherhood is a difficult job for all mothers- working in the home or out of it, because they are always working in the home, too. My prayers, love and support goes out to all you hard working moms who struggle in finding worth in the job on motherhood. It is a mighty and important job- so keep pressing on for the One who sees every little detail we do for His glory.