Monday, January 21, 2008

Sarah – a Mom with a vision

Sarah is a single stay-at-home mother. Her husband left a couple of years ago, and Sarah was left with a toddler and a baby on her hands. Since her husband is broke, she is unable to make him pay child support – and he makes no effort to help her in a non-material way. As a matter of fact, Sarah's children are practically fatherless, except for holiday greetings several times a year.

Sarah always planned to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. When she got married, she was full of hopes for a beautiful, strong family, where the children would have two loving parents, a father who provides for them and a mother who is always there for them, creating a warm and happy home. She always believed nothing is better for a family than a wife and mother who dedicates herself to homemaking.

She never imagined her marriage would fall apart, but it did. Furthermore, she was left with no source of financial support but welfare and occasional help from her relatives. Everybody assumed that now Sarah will start working, to provide more money for her children than welfare could allow. Everybody thought that in her current situation, when she has to provide for her children's basic necessities, staying at home is an impossible luxury.

Sarah, however, had different ideas about what her children truly need. And guess what, it wasn't a bigger apartment, new toys or fancy clothes. Sarah decided that as long as her children are fed, clothed and have a roof over their heads, what they need most is Mom. Mom, at home with them, always there for them, just as she planned and promised them when they were born. What her children need least of all in addition to losing their father, she decided, was losing a big part of their mother's attention and care as well.

I met Sarah at a social gathering. People were having the usual dinner party conversations – about their jobs – and when asked what she was doing, Sarah replied she is a full-time mom. Most of the people looked uncomfortable and quickly changed the subject. One woman, however, responded with indignation. "All the women I know are perfectly capable of having a full-time job while raising children," – she said, - "how come you allow yourself to stay at home? After all the way women went to gain their rights?" - That was the nicest, gentlest comment of all she made later, describing Sarah's as a social parasite who indulges in a carefree and easy life on the decent tax-payer's dime.

Sarah didn't lose her self-respect and terminated the unpleasant conversation in a quick, dignified way. In fact, she looked as though she wasn't the least bit shocked or outraged. Even though we weren't introduced, I took the liberty to approach her and express my admiration of her choice and my dismay about the bitter and vehement attack she suffered that night.

She shrugged. She was used to that kind of reaction, she explained. Then she added, "Occasionally, someone will say 'That's great! I wish I could have afforded to do that.' And I look at their fifty dollar shoes and their hundred dollar hairdos, and then at my five dollar shoes and hair which hasn't seen a pair of scissors for about six years, and I think... I couldn't afford it either, but it's too important a job not to do just because I like pretty dresses."

It's a matter of priorities. It's a matter of understanding what's really important, what's really meaningful in our lives – and however you look at it, there's just no way to give your family the same amount of time and attention they need after coming home from a full-time job. We are not superwomen. We can't be at two places at once. I understand it, Sarah understands it, but apparently, feminists like the one who criticized Sarah for being a lazy bum think they know better.

For Sarah, the choice was obvious. She knew that after children grow up, they won't remember how many pairs of jeans they had, or whose room was bigger, or whose toys were fancier. They will remember afternoons on which they came from school and were greeted by Mom's patient smile. They will remember special moments spent together, affection and care and support when they most needed it.

Sarah is doing important, full-time work to make her community a better place. She is creating human beings who are intelligent, socially aware, friendly, educated and spiritual. This is not a task that can be done by a babysitter or teacher. Only a mother can accomplish this – a Mom with a vision.

(* edited and published with permission)

37 comments:

Shannon said...

Anna, what a touching story! I really admire Sarah for her choice amidst the harsh criticisms that have been directed toward her.

This story has made me realize how critical I've been at times toward those who stay home, don't have a "real" job, etc. Yet, due to my medical problems and other issues, I am not in the workforce myself. I've come to realize that people who criticize others, often do it because of an insecure part of themselves that they are trying to hide. These defenses come out as nasty comments, etc. that bring hurt to the victim and in turn, themselves. I really do enjoy your blog Anna. Thanks for sharing this story.

maria said...

That is so inspiring... Thank you! And if you ever see Sarah again, tell her that there at least someone in a country far away that really admires her!

Beth said...

Thannk you, Anna, for sharing this tale of courage and self-sacrifice! Very inspiring to us all, no matter what challenges we may face in our work on the home front.

andrea said...

that story is simply beautiful...and so encouraging! : )

Buffy said...

I thought this post was an eloquant explanation of the importance of being a full-time mother, even in the more desperate circumstances.

As for the woman who critcised her, it sounds like she has issues to me. Perhaps she feels guilty from not being at home with her own children.

Adlyn said...

wow! I've been critized for wanted to become a stay-at-home mother (like cult). I know this is not the norm in america but I don't care and I know I've made the right right despite what my sister tell me. May GOD bless you and you family Sarah!

xoxoxoxo,
Adlyn

Sheri said...

Oh Anna, thank you for sharing "this woman of vision!" We surely need more Sarah's with that kind of determination and passion to be mothers... and yes, you are right on when you said, "We can't be at two places at once." Unfortunately one of the "places" gets neglected. Most often the home, family life, husband, and children.

Terry said...

I do admire Sarah's commitment to her children and her choice to do without the things many of us take for granted in order to be there for them. In the U.S., there are many restrictions on the length of time a family can receive public aid so American women who are abandoned and without family support really have little choice other than to find work. I thought I would add that bit of info since so many of your readers are Americans. It saddens me that Sarah has a husband who was able to leave his wife and children behind without making any effort to provide financial support. I pray the Lord continues to give her strength on her courageous journey.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the legacy of "no-fault" divorce. And dads who don't live up to their resposibilities.

This was a difficult post for me to read. I have a friend in similar circumstances, with three children, but she works a job. And she doesn't earn enough on her teacher's salary to make ends meet. The childrens' father has no interest in them, so neither contributes to their support nor helps by giving of his time. So, what is she(the mother) doing? She has turned to government agencies for help anyway, & is using credit cards, amassing a debt I doubt she will ever be able to repay. She is exhausted all the time & has ruined her health. Her money problems plague her constantly. She works very hard & has tried to do right by her children, but falls further & further behind. I worry a great deal about her. There are many times I've thought that it would be better for my friend to quit her job, & be at home. It's possible that in the long haul, that choice would actually be less expensive for the government.

I'm sure there are many "Sarahs", who feel pressured to step up & be a man, so to speak, leaving the little ones to spend nearly all their waking hours away from home & be raised by strangers.

May God help us.

sincerely,
Brenda

Kathleen said...

Bravo! And hooray for Sarah!

Hil The Thrill said...

Anna,
I LOVED and related to this post. Feminism was never designed to denegrate motherhood, but in many cases that is what has happened. Like Sarah, I am a single mother receiving no support from my ex-husband. I work limited hours from home, and receive support from my family.

When I was home with small babies, I received a lot of comments from women about not returning directly to work, and all from women! This can only stem from our own insecurity. We need to teach our own daughters that, as women, we will be stronger to support each other and create community rather than judge, don't you think?

Stefanie said...

Anna, I am so glad that HE put you there for Sarah. I am sure that fact that you took the care to comment and compliment her made a huge impact in her world. I admire her so - do you know how to contact her? Is there any way that we could bless her? I was just wondering, I think it would be great to do something for her.

Calamity Jean said...

I can honestly not imagine being treated like such for MY decisions concerning MY family. What a strong woman. People are really just too nosy and opionated for their own good.

Anonymous said...

Anna--

While I disagree with you on a lot of points (I consider myself a feminist), I enjoy your blog because it is so thoughtful and well-written. In this particular post, however, I agree with you completely. I live in the US and have always been dismayed with the way stay-at-home welfare moms are characterized as lazy or even parasites. It makes much more sense to me for a woman to stay home and take care of her children than take some $8 an hour job and leave her children with some baby-sitter (who she also has to pay, since we don't have much in terms of subsidized daycare in this country) or, worse yet, alone. Good for Sarah!

Karen said...

This is so sad and yet so inspiring. Sad that the husband did not fulfill his G-d given role, and inspiring that she had the right priorities. My mom worked full-time, double shifts, etc, in order to take care of her children as a single mom. She ended up with ruined health, unable to work enough to get by, and yet refused government benefits so she is also in a heap of debt!

In the U.S. government will not allow you to have much aid unless you are working or actively looking for work. It is all temporary and no one can live on it, so single moms really have no choice. I have seen some of them leave their kids in daycare from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Then we wonder why our statistics for children raised by single moms are so truly frightening!

Alexandra said...

Thank sharing this. You are sweet to talk to her later. There is no reason to tear someone down like that. We need to invest in children first.

Brandi H. said...

This poor mother is in a very difficult position. She has been abandoned not only by her husband, but apparently by the church as well. If we were obedient to care for orphans, she would not have to rely on the government. So much of what the government must do would be unnecessary if the church would step up to the plate.

Ways of Zion said...

Thank you for sharing this. It made me realize even more how blessed I am to have a husband that supports us and makes it easier for me to stay at home.

I've been reading up but hardly commenting as we are nearing the end of our wait for our third olive plant. keep up the good work!

Kelly said...

God Bless you Sarah!
Wow, great story. So inspiring.

LisaM said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story. It reminds me of the stories you have shared of your own growing up years, and I hope that you are encouraged to keep pressing the importance and beauty of Motherhood. Keep up the lovely work you do.

Karen said...

Amen & amen! I'm certain that God placed you in her life at that moment, even if it was just for affirmation and encouragement. Thanks for the story.

Rebekah S. said...

Oh wow! I'm currently speechless. I was blown away by this powerful, outstanding story, that is so desperately needed in our culture today!

All too often, mothers who are single, widowed, divorced, etc., think that they're going to have to go to the workforce and that there's nothing they can do about it. How untrue that is and what a tragedy that so many women are blinded into thinking that that's the case. You're so right-we need to get our priorities straight! No one ever promised or said that being a stay-at-home mom while single would be easy. But it's so worth it, and is what those women are called on to do. The command to be a homemaker doesn't go away simply because your marital status unfortionately changes. It may be very very hard to not just take the easy way, but to rather stay at home, but it's so worth it, and is something that we gotta do.

I think that's why Crystal Paine(Biblicalwomanhood.com) is such an inspiration, and a true heroine of the faith. Not long ago, finances were very tight, because her husband Jesse was going through law school. To say that finances were low would have been an understatment. She could have easily just done the easy thing, and said, "I know I have this Biblical conviction that I'm commanded to be a homemaker, but that would just be so hard. We really need to money." She could have gone out to the workforce. But she didn't do that. She stayed true to her calling as a woman, and she remained at home. Her family truly reaped the huge benefits of this sacrifice. And they made it through just fine! She began a homebusiness, and because she obeyed God rather than "going the easy way out", He richly blessed her and her family.

A lot of women sadly think that just because they have no husband supporting them, that they're automatically forced into working out in the workforce. But, that simply isn't the case! In fact, a woman can actually make much much more money by owning a home business than she could going out to the workforce. For, with working in the workforce comes many many more expenses that homemakers simply don't have.

It's so important that we have multi-generational views. And that's exactly what Sarah has-a multi-generational vision. She's aware of the fact that it may be "easier" to just go off to work, but she knows that every single decision she makes (i.e. whether to go off to work, or stay at home and be the godly example her children so desperately need) affects her children, and future progeny(grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so forth). Thank you, Sarah, for your terrific example!


Praise God for a woman like Sarah! What an inspiration she is!! May the Lord richly bless that dear, precious woman for her unquestioning, joyful obedience. We truly need more examples like her in the world today!

Thank you for this uplifting post, Anna! :)

Blessings to both you and Sarah,
Rebekah

AK said...

You know, at first it sounded like Sarah was * ME * ~~ a relationship that fell apart that was "supposed" to last forever... my children's father that left me high and dry, not paying a single dime, not even visiting them or sending them cards... but how in the world can someone stay at home on welfare? In America, it's not possible. Our laws mean a woman on welfare MUST be out of the home working. A woman's work has been devalued to this point, now. If a single mother does not spend a bare minimum of 32 hours in out-of-the home work activities all of her benefits are cut. That means no more food, no more health care, no more place to live.

I can't read stories like this without my heart hurting, because... it's so unrealistic here.

:(

Apple Cider Mama said...

Thank you so much for sharing Sarah's story. What an inspiration. Single mothers are the "widows" of our day, and we should all be reminded that as children of G-d we should extend His grace and mercy to them, that they can carry out their calling as mothers.
~Bethany

Kat said...

Unfortunately, this isn't just an issue that affects single women. I wake up at the crack of dawn, take my child to one daycare and then go to work at another. I work at least a 10 hour day, pick her up, and then fight traffic to get home. I'm sick all of the time (which is why I am home now), and I am utterly exhausted. This may seem silly, but I have been so wishing for my husband to "rescue" me and say that he will work some overtime so I can stay home with the baby instead of being a physically and emotionally drained wraith. Instead I get "You have to do what you have to do!" My husband is a good man. He helps with the baby when he is home, and is very gentle. However, he is a victim of his culture. His mother was a teacher at a private school where her children attended. His father lost his job after refusing a job transfer...then quit another he did not like. That was about 15 yrs ago...no job since. When dad abdicated his position, mom had to find a higher paying job in a very rough part of town. She still is working into her sixties. He is "retired". I'm sure she wonders when she will get to retire.

Sammybunny said...

Wonderful and encouraging post, Anna! So amazing that people can be so nasty to women who want to stay at home and take care of their families!

A Note From Theresa said...

Good For Sarah!! The world needs more women like her!

It's never easy to do what is right, But the Lord will always provide a way.

Sarahndipity said...

I think it’s wonderful that Sarah is still able to stay home with her kids after her husband abandoned her. Just curious, though – how does she do it? Does she work from home? Get government assistance? (I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, by the way, at least in this case, since I think staying home with your kids is important.) Ironically, conservatives who claim to stand for family values make it next to impossible for poor single mothers to be there for their kids, demonizing them as “welfare queens” (at least here in the U.S.) Anyway – it could be you don’t know how she does it, but I was just wondering.

singlemomforgod said...

Anna,

This was such a source of inspiration for me. I admire Sarah a lot for her courage and her stand against the criticism. I would just offer one tidbit of two cents, I would just like for those who read your blog to know that for many single moms, ( well I know for sure myself) the desire to stay at home is there. We love our children, and we want the best for them. We realize that we are the best for them but sometimes there are circumstances that just don't allow us to be at home.But it is always a blessing to see a fellow single mom who is able to branch out and give us all hope. Thanks again for the story!

Ahuva said...

The message that people should live with less so that they can stay home with their children is a good one. I wouldn't have an issue with Sarah being supported by family members or friends... but it does trouble me that there are women who feel that they have to work so that Sarah can stay home with her kids (the tax money has to come from somewhere). Or what about the single women who want to put away money for their own anticipated families-- why is it better for them to support women who are capable of work like Sarah rather than save for their own? If this is important to our communities, why can't Sarah rely on community-based support (which certainly exists in Israel and some American communities)?

(Note, I am not against the welfare system, nor am I against supporting people who cannot work (because of age or illness/disability). I'm just trying to raise a question.)

Rebekah S. said...

AK,

Isn't that sad?! It's tragic that the church is falling behind on its responsibilities to care for the widows and ophans we know. If we would do that, then it'd be so much easier for that single mother to do what she is supposed to do! Shame on us members of the church for not doing what God has commanded us to!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kat,
I'll be praying for you! Nothing is impossible with God! :)

Sue said...

Anna:

It's so great that you are able to walk alongside Sarah when she obviously needs all the friends she can get!

I also really appreciate her standing up for her beliefs in the face of rude, graceless individuals.

But back in the US, there have been posts about single women not receiving child support from ex-husbands. I thought that states?/the federal government? was supposed to be getting tough with deadbeat dads. Is that just a myth?

--Sue

Anonymous said...

Sue-
One of my friends works for our state (in the US), and her job is to find dead-beat dads and dock their child-support from their paychecks. She says that as soon as they are "discovered" they quit their jobs, so it is very difficult to get steady child support from an unwilling father.
:)
Emily

Kristy said...

Sarah has definitely earned my admiration and respect... wow, I can't imagine facing all the responsibilities of managing a household without a husband to share the burden.

I know other single moms who found themselves in the same circumstance as Sarah and also chose to stay home with their families... it has been amazing to watch God provide for and bless them over the years, as well as to watch their children grow into lovely, mature adults who love their mothers!!

SoarerGT said...

"Sarah is doing important, full-time work to make her community a better place. She is creating human beings who are intelligent, socially aware, friendly, educated and spiritual. This is not a task that can be done by a babysitter or teacher. Only a mother can accomplish this – a Mom with a vision. "

Those are truly beautiful words, ma'am. I couldn't agree more with you on this.
I've known many childless career women, and while I respect and admire their achievements, I find the achievements of the stay-at-home mothers of the world to be far more important and truly awe-inspiring.

In my opinion, women who are committed to their families comprise a vital component of a thriving and prosperous civilization. I truly believe that they are beautiful in every conceivable sense of the word.

I frankly cannot understand what drives some men to abandon their families, but I know there are guys out there like that. It makes me sick to see what some of my fellow men are capable of. Word to the ladies though, the great majority of us aren't like that at all. I know a lot of men (at least here in the US) that would dive in front of a moving bus for their wife and kids if need be. That's the kind of devotion that a loving family inspires in many men.

If I believed in God, I'd be right along with some of your comment posters in praying for Sarah. In lieu of the fact that I don't, all I can offer is my respect and best wishes to her. I can only hope that one day, she'll find herself some nice Israeli guy, who will love her and their children with all his heart. In the meantime though, it's a good thing she at least has a friend like you, Anna.

natalie said...

While it is very, very important for a mother to be able to be home with her children, it also isn't the government's job to take care of them. Both family and church should step up to the plate- both to make sure they are provided for financially, and to support the mother in her difficult situation. And, if there is no chance of reconciliation, in the case of abandonment I think that a young single mom falls under the category of a young widow, and should be encouraged, after a time, to remarry if possible- thus providing for her and her children, and also giving her children a father- also a very important thing for any child.

Sheila said...

I'm so glad you shared this! I feel like I was Sarah at one point in my life. As a rejected wife while pregnant and raising a toddler I felt it was truly God's protection and leading in my life to choose to take a stand and not go back to my outside the home job. I also didn't want to sacrifice my kids on the altar of my husband's and my sins. God saw me through that time and gave me a heart of courage and His divine perspective on the importance of the roles He designed. When my husband returned to our marriage with a heart stirred by God (much like Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther's kings) I was able to see how God was calling me out of that old "slave to the ways of this world" mindset into the freedom of being a builder of a home- for His glory!

Thanks so much for your boldness in sharing your heart.

~sheila~