On the subject of women working outside the home, I've read a variety of thoughts and opinions, which ranged from saying that working outside the home is always a sin to claiming that it's irreplaceable for a woman's personal growth and development.
So where do I place myself on this scale? From reading my previous posts, you can understand I don't think working outside the home or attending college is necessary for being a happy, fulfilled, mature, educated, productive and creative individual. And while my desire is to get married and be a full-time homemaker, I don't think working outside the home is always a sin. It's not black and white. Women go out into the workforce for various reasons. Take for example a single lady like myself. I'd love to spend my single years living under my father's protection and authority and helping him, but it so happens that I have no father – therefore I'm probably going to start working soon.
I also think there's a huge difference between a woman who works part-time, hurries home to be there for her children, makes dinner for her husband and welcomes him with a gracious smile – and a woman who comes home late in the evening, ignores the precious toddler who has been missing his Mommy, and rushes to the computer to check e-mails and go through a few more work papers. Sure, both of them work outside the home, but only one of them has what I will refer to as 'career mentality'. To avoid misunderstandings, I define 'career mentality' as putting one's career, consciously or unconsciously, ahead of anyone or anything in life, including relationships with God and loved ones. The second woman I described might say she is working extra hard to earn some more money for her child, but at the bottom line, when the choice is between spending time with her child and checking emails, the emails almost always win.
So, I'm certainly not passing judgment on anyone or telling I know the magical answer to this dilemma, but in my humble opinion, women who work outside the home could ask themselves the following questions:
1) What is my top priority?
Look into your heart. If you had to answer that, I know you'd probably say, "God, then my loved ones, then everything else". Look at your life – how do you spend your days? What occupies your thoughts? What takes the best part of your daily efforts? Think again about what you said matters the most to you. Do you act accordingly?
2) Why do I work outside the home?
There's no right or wrong, black or white here. But still, think about it for a while. What would your answer be? 'Because I think I have to'? 'Because I want to make more money for my family'? 'Because I'd be bored at home all day long'? 'Because I love my job'? 'Because my husband and I had a talk and decided it would be better for our family'? Or it could be 'because I don't want to depend on my husband', 'because this is the norm in my community'… just look into your heart and mull it over.
3) Does it interfere with taking care of my husband, children and home?
No, I'm not saying women who work outside the home are not helpmeets to their husbands. I'm not saying they are not good mothers or that their homes are always badly kept and untidy. However… I don't know about you – but I only have 24 hours in my day! Suppose I sleep for 8 hours and spend 8 hours in the office. I still have 8 hours. But I also need to eat several times during the day (2 hours), get dressed, take a shower, brush my hair (1 hour), and there's commutation (right now this one eats up 3 hours in my day). No matter how you look at it, I only have 2-3 hours a day for everything else. I'm single right now, and I still feel the strain. Suppose I get married someday. Imagine having only 2 or 3 hours every day to take care of the household, cook, shop, do laundry, run errands, spend time with my loved ones, and of course – pray. It just doesn't seem enough. Remember, I'm only looking at my personal example here.
4) I'm super-efficient. I can do anything and everything. Is it taking a toll on my health?
Let's go back to the previous division of hours in a day. Suppose I only sleep for 6 hours a day, and spend 1 hour on meals, 1\2 hour on dressing up, shower etc, and 1 hour on commuting. I still work for 8 hours every day. I have 7-8 hours to do everything else! I'm a champion of efficiency! Right? I don't think so. Maybe it works for someone, but I know it wouldn't work for me. I could handle constant stress, rush and sleep deprivation for a period – but not for years. Not if I want to keep my health and sanity intact.
5) Do I avoid developing a career mentality?
I think this last point is especially important for single ladies like me. Let me explain what I mean. Suppose I start working right now and tell myself, 'this is not my goal in life. I want to focus on God, marriage, family, children. But I need to pay the bills in the meantime'. And surely I don't want to waste my single years on a boring job! I want to be useful. I want to be productive. I want to serve others. Then bit by bit, work occupies a more and more important place in my life, and when the chance to get married finally comes along and my new duties demand my full attention, I resent not having enough time to keep my job. Are you willing to give up your job if more important duties demand that, without feeling resentful, oppressed, unfulfilled? If I go through work papers while my husband needs my advice and support more than anything else, that's career mentality. If I spend more time with my boss than with my husband, that's career mentality. If my home is a mess, my refrigerator is empty and I haven't prayed for days because I don't have time – and I claim it's not too bad after all – that, again, is career mentality.
Do I have any conclusion here? Not really. These are just thoughts. But I know I don't want to let careerism and various oppportunities make me lose focus of my biggest dream, my goal, my vision - being a wife, helpmeet and mother.