I would like to start by saying a big Thank You to all the dear ladies who took the time to share their stories following my post from Thursday. For those who haven't checked in during the last few days, be sure to take a look at the comment thread. You will see some wonderful, truly inspiring testimonies of women who found their way home, sometimes against all odds, and delight in their work as wives and/or mothers.
Through email, I received a beautiful letter from a stay-at-home daughter, now preparing to be a wife, who also shared the story of how her heart was turned towards home. Her message was written in such a touching and eloquent way, and I was truly moved to read it. I'm happy to tell you that I obtained this young lady's permission to share her letter with you all.
I am currently a “stay-at-home daughter” so I cannot answer the question in your poll. Since your questions in your post somewhat apply, though, I thought I’d answer them here in an e-mail.
By God’s grace and guidance, I have never moved out of my parents’ house. However, most of my time was spent outside of the home. I went to a private pre-school at age 4 and then was in the public school system from age 5 to 17. Afterward, I went to a public university and graduated at age 21.
I went to school to be a teacher and taught in public schools (1 year at one and 3 years at another) until I was 25. At the end of my last “public school” year, I didn’t know what I would do, really, but I knew I didn’t want to work for the school I was currently in anymore, so I quit. Initially, I was interested in working for another school, but then I started to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t go back to working for such a corrupt system?
So, I guess I officially “came home” when I was 25, even though I was confused at that time. Since then, I have been home for 3 years… mostly. I would say that even though I have not always been at home physically in the last few years, my heart has come “home” and I have been learning the importance of home, what it means to be at home, etc. (During that time, I took a part-time job for a few months and also helped in a school in our Faith for 4 days a week for a total of 11 months.)
To give a little background, I have a stay-at-home mother who has been at home since she had her first baby over 30 years ago. Naturally, I wanted to be like her. My parents didn’t know about the option of homeschooling until the last several years, after it was too late for most of my siblings and I, with the exception of the sixth and last child who was homeschooled for his last two years of high school. We blindly followed our society’s expectations for getting an education, then a degree and settling into a profession/career.
Deep in my heart, I knew I always wanted to be a wife and mother, ever since I can remember. While I did have some advantages that have prepared me somewhat for this desired role, I wasn’t being fully prepared, especially because of the emphasis on education and a profession… along with the practical fact that in order to be a wife and mother, one first has to marry a husband. Since I didn’t marry anyone right out of high school, I did what the world expected me to do: went to college. I thought teaching was the only real option, as I love children. I was planning to attend school and teach just to take up time until I married… then it wouldn’t be long before I would be a full-time stay-at-home wife and mother.
I never had much vision for the future of my life and didn’t give it too much thought as I believe in the coming of the Messiah and establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth. I just hoped that, until then, I would be able to be married and have children. I never anticipated how many years would pass until I would actually have a real possibility of marriage! (I am 28 and will be 29 in early September.)
What prompted me to come home was dissatisfaction with the institution I was working for. I initiated coming home myself, but my family was supportive of my decision. Just as I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself, they didn’t have a strong opinion about what I should do, either. My sister, though, seeing how much I was consumed by the whole education system (in time, energy, etc.), knew that she didn’t want to do the same thing, even though she was going to school to be a teacher at the time, too. Her heart “came home” before she finished college, but she did finish because she was almost ready to graduate, anyway. Since then, she has had a couple part-time jobs, but has been mostly at home. Thankfully, my parents were supportive of her decision, so that made it easier for me.
The reasons why I ended up staying at home and not finding another full-time job were spiritual. I realized I was giving all my time to random families of the world (even though I did care about many of them and loved the children in my class) – while neglecting my own family and more importantly, my reading of Scripture and spiritual development. Since my parents were happy to have me stay with them as long as I wanted or needed to, I didn’t need to continue the job for financial reasons.
When I stopped working full-time, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. The freedom I felt was indescribable! It was so wonderful to be free from working for a dishonest and unfair institution, as well as not having to get up at around 5:30 in the morning and be away from home until late in the evening, take work home with me, etc., etc.! Some of the joys of being at home include being free to structure your own day, having time to do what is important to you, having the ability to be creative (such as with sewing and baking projects) and being in a safe, peaceful environment away from the frantic busyness and evils of the world. It has taken me awhile to learn what I can do to contribute to my family, but I am realizing how much my mood and level of contentment/enthusiasm affects my family and ways I can help with cleaning, laundry, meal preparation and all the other homemaking tasks.
Oh, there are many challenges, frustrations and weaknesses I have in being at home! Where do I begin? I’ll just share a couple things.
Most of the initial challenges and frustrations had to do with going from being in the world full-time to being at home. It was very challenging transition. I hardly knew what to do with myself! While I did enjoy the feelings of freedom and independence from the world’s expectations and not having someone dictate to me what I had to do and when, I almost went “crazy” with the extreme change. It took me awhile to find a place… I would say that it is only now, after three years of being at home, that it is more natural for me to be here. Mom had been doing most of the housework herself and hadn’t delegated much responsibility to her children, mostly because we were so busy with our own agendas including school or jobs. So… was I needed? What could I do? It was so frustrating!
Almost a year ago, we moved to a small farm in the country after my parents and a few of their children (including me) have turned our hearts toward home. We have been so blessed by the ability to have somewhat of a “homestead” with fruit trees and bushes, a huge garden that we have put in and we are hoping to have some animals, too, such as chickens. Now that we’ve moved here, there is little question about what I could do to contribute! My sister, mom and I take turns preparing meals for a whole week, including shopping for groceries. There’s other housework we can do, we put together a quarterly magazine for the encouragement of ladies (called Daughters of Zion)… the opportunities for ways I could contribute are endless.
Another challenge that probably most everyone who decides to come home faces is how to explain to others what you are doing. While you may find some who understand and are supportive, most people don’t understand and will try to make you feel insignificant or your efforts worthless. We do live in a community where it is generally acceptable to be at home – more so here than where we moved from. However, we do have acquaintances that have questioned us (mostly my sister and me) and have tried to “advise” us otherwise. We have had a hard time deciding how to answer the awkward questions when they are asked – not only do you have to be careful about what you say, but also how you phrase what you say. We basically try to explain that we are serving our family.
I think perhaps it is more difficult to explain what you are doing when you are a stay-at-home daughter than when you are a wife and mother. Once in a while someone will ask me if I plan to teach again, but they know that a farm can keep a daughter busy, so they don’t ask too many questions about why I am not off somewhere in the world. Thankfully I haven’t been given much of a hard time about what I’m doing.- - - I am thankful to Yahweh for teaching me so much throughout the last 10 years or so. I know that I am much more prepared now to be a stay-at-home wife and mother than I was when I graduated from high school.
Even though I always wanted to be married and at home raising children and knew enough about the physical responsibilities (I could cook well enough and knew how to care for babies), I wasn’t ready for the huge responsibility of being a proper help-meet to a husband or how to help nurture and train children to love the LORD their God with all their hearts in the fashion of Deut. 6: diligently throughout the day. Yahweh has blessed me with a good man whom, according to His will, I will marry this autumn. This man is so thankful to have found someone who will joyfully keep his home and help raise his children (if God wills).
What a blessing that we have been prepared for each other! As you say, though, we can never be ready for everything and we have to actually live the experience to learn as we go.The thoughts and experiences you have shared on your site, “Domestic Felicity”, have been encouraging to me. Thank you for taking the time to pass on what you have learned. I will look forward to continuing to glean support from your site as I transition into the new blessed role of wife and mother!"