Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The price is too high

Women who work outside the home often do so because they feel trapped. By financial circumstances, which dictate real (and sometimes imaginary) necessity. By social pressures, which claim that a woman who is "just" a wife and mother isn't doing something worthwhile with her life. By fears of being stuck with no job in the future when it is really needed (because of illness, divorce, death, husband's unemployment and so many other curves life can throw at us.)

I know more than enough women who are wonderful wives, mothers and homemakers, who love their homes and families and do all they can at home, juggling it with their work schedules until they drop off their feet. Who earn only a fraction of what their husbands make, and who waste most of their salary on daycare and/or gas – and will continue leaving most of their wage with their daycare provider while they still have babies at home, a period that may well stretch over decades. Who are not crazy about their jobs or feel any particular calling towards what they do. Who would do so wonderfully, in short, just being at home, but cannot take the leap and just do it.

Imagine that a woman earns a degree and gets a job, working all the way through her early years of marriage, her children's infancy and their younger years, thinking that she might wish to continue in the same field when her children are grown. The stress that will be placed on her home, her children, her family and herself is often enormous, even if she only works a part-time job. All around me, women are dropping off their feet in exhaustion, because their God-given instinct as wives and mothers is suffering from a terrible clash with the feminism-drilled preposition that a woman is worthless if she doesn't earn a paycheck, however miserly it might be.

And the "security" she gains at her job is so fickle. Many people are fired and have to change their professional direction anyway. I'm not saying an older woman is supposed to take a job outside the home – there is almost always more than enough to do, and an older woman deserves a quiet haven at home instead of having to compete with younger employees. But I have known women who have returned to their old fields, or took professional courses after their children were grown, and fitted work into their lives on a basis that was appropriate for them, and not very demanding. One was a nutritionist who studied with me. Some became doulas, lactation consultants, seamstresses and even graphic designers. It might be worthwhile to acquire skills that will be useful later in life. But nothing, and I mean nothing, will compensate for the lost years with your babies.

Daycare for very young babies, starting from a couple of months old, is something that wasn't common when my husband and I were growing up. At his time, it was common for a child to be at home until they were at least well past infancy. Now a woman is getting raised eyebrows if her child is three months old (that's the length of maternity leave in Israel) and she's still not back at work. It is made to look like the norm now, but it is not. The younger a child is, the less fitting it is for him to spend much of his time under the care of strangers. The stretching of school hours for young children is unhealthy, in my opinion, and the trend of young babies dropped off in daycare is nothing short of monstrous.

I don't think any generation had as large a share of behavioral problems, concentration disorders, improper nutrition and general neglect as the recent one. Why doesn't anybody stop to question the proportion of school children who are on Ritalin? I'm not saying it all has to do only with mothers working long hours outside the home. But there is no denying the fact that the quality of home life had gone dramatically down ever since women were brainwashed into leaving their homes. And when no food is made at home, the family must resolve to eating junk. I spent four years learning about diets and calorie restriction, only to reach the simple conclusion that we need family meals, not low-fat snacks.

I knew a woman who insisted she must work, because otherwise they won't be able to send their two-year-old to preschool. Just leaving him at home didn't even occur to her. I'm already being told that my one-year-old daughter would do better in a daycare institution, because then "she will learn to hit back from an early age when other children pick on her." Really? Why would I want my baby, who doesn't even walk yet, to "hit back"? Throwing a bunch of infants together does not help them to develop social skills. It only fosters bad habits.

The more I think about the current arrangements families usually make, the more I want to say what a big, huge fluke it all is. Our entire life has become so institutionalized. Our food is grown and made by strangers. Other strangers raise our children. And all these things are done remarkably less well than when people kept their homes and gardens, cooked most of their food from scratch, and kept their children close until they were truly ready to enter the adult world. These tasks, which have been given the status of "menial", "boring" and "not worthwhile" have shaped the human race and produced many generations of healthy, emotionally stable, socially mature adults. They are impossible to replace on a satisfactory level.

If you are a wife and mother, you are needed. Your hands, your heart, your eyes and ears and skills, your creativity and passion are needed in your home.

59 comments:

Becky said...

Beautifully said!

Marytoo said...

Big AMEN to you!

Anonymous said...

You know that I couldn't agree more, Anna. Some of the "improvements" to our world are merely laughable....others truly frightening.

I have been approached by someone at my church to consider becoming a mentor, of sorts, to young mothers who are at a loss for how to organize their homes & care properly for their children, create a simple meal plan, & so forth. To speak truthfully, I have thought that this would be an ideal volunteer opportunity for me to use some of my time, here & there in a month. But I was also warned by the same woman who presented this idea to me that, should I accept such an assignment, to be very careful not to become drained. Apparently, it is like starting from scratch with a good many young women, who haven't, even, any frame of reference about homemeaking & mothering on which to build. When I mentioned that some things are "frightening" this is what I meant. It's almost as if what was once considered common knowledge among humanity is being bred out of us...& instead, a twisted version of what is good for the family is presented to us.

Brenda

Literature Goddess said...

How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?

--G.K. Chesterton

Anonymous said...

YES! You say it all so well! My husband and I were accused of sheltering our children (as if it was a form of cruel and unusual punishment) by my husband's parents. This was when they were preschool age, but not in preschool or riding the bus to get there. Being an engineer by training (mother by profession), I tried to explain that children are like wet cement and need to be protected until they set up. I don't want our children marred by strangers' footprints when they reach adulthood! I don't know if they understood or just thought I was crazy. We've moved away, and they haven't brought it up again.

Civilla said...

Well said, Mrs. Anna T.

Anonymous said...

A longtime friend of my husband's found that she and her husband were unable to have children. She adores children and was absolutely heartbroken. My husband suggested that maybe we could have another child for them to adopt, as I have very easy pregnancies. We never mentioned it to them though. Very soon after that they adopted a baby girl, and promptly put her in daycare so they wouldn't have to interrupt their careers. Fast forward three years and we had a surprise pregnancy. Exhausted from having four small children already, I asked my husband about his previous suggestion. "No way!" he said, "they don't have time for the one they have. If they really wanted children, one of them would be at home taking care of her." I was suprised at the strength of his feelings, and relieved that he supported my being home as much as he did. I was also sorry that his friend was missing out on motherhood.

Laura Angelika said...

Wise words - thank you for them!

Joy said...

What a great piece of advice and a deep understanding of motherhood.

Anonymous said...

Amen!

Thursday's Child said...

I'm so glad I'm a SAHM now. :)

Anonymous said...

Amen! And, as an older woman, it takes more time to accomplish what is needed at home. My greatest happiness is when my family arrives safely home at night and I have a hot meal ready for them. Clean laundry, a tidy house, homemade bread - I enjoy creating a safe haven. I once heard about someone who spent his [her?] life "climbing the corporate ladder" and when he "got to the top" he realized his ladder was leaning against the wrong thing! Just some thoughts.
Mrs. L.

Ganeida said...

It has not been widely published [understandably] but there is now research to suggest that children who have been in daycare since an early age for prolonged periods of time are incapable of forming lasting, long term relationships. And the divorce rate is already out of control!!!!! I wish I could remember where I read this but it was years back & I can't put my finger on it.

Veronica Boulden said...

I agree with everything you have said, but I hesitate to defend to all "stay at home moms" or "wives" since many of them are very unproductive, spending their days shuffling their kids off to school only to come back to watch television or chat on the phone or decorate or shop (for something other than groceries). Certain women use their titles "wife" or "mother" to sound more valuable to their families or seem more helpful to their spouses, when in reality, their lifestyle is just a product of excess and they are often dodging opportunities to be a real servant (perhaps by going back to work to help their husband with some of the financial burden for a season). I don't think women have the right to be "kept" simply because they are women, since none of us have the right to be idol, male or female... I think God meant for women to be as productive as possible within their unique, feminine capacities and domains. But, I understand where you are coming from. Those women who are busy about the things that really do build up their home deserve respect for their hard work. That kind of work really is valuable, priceless even. Thanks for the chance to comment!!!

jAne said...

Of course I'm in agreement, dear AnnaT. :o)

My daughter is grown and walking a path God has set for her. Me? After 6 years working for a private school (mainly from home) devoted to home education, I am "retiring" in June. A few things are in the works at that time, the main one of being 100% available to travel with my husband. His job takes him away from home quite often and oh how nice it'll be to *be* with him on a semi-regular basis as we can afford. Swoon!

Blessings,
jAne * tickleberryfarm.blogspot.com

Bbowzwife said...

Amen!! I heard a young mother say that children in daycare develope better socially because they learn early that people are mean and they need to fight back! I was horrified! The idea that anyone, let alone a small child, should be subjected to meanness in order to learn that life is hard and you have to be harder is beyond sad. I can only think it is an enormous root cause of the decline of society and morality.

Mrs. Lady Sofia said...

There's no comment to add to this post except a very agreeable, "Amen." I couldn't agree with your sentiments more.

Daycare is NO place for a child! I should know. I used to work in the childcare field for several years during the times I was unmarried and on my own, and those are horrible places for children to be "trapped" in for about 7 to 10 hours a day. If parents could be invisibly present at those daycare centers and see what really "goes-on" while they are away, I bet some of them would take their children out of childcare at warp speed!

Also, there is NOTHING wrong with women who decide to stay home full-time to take care of their own children without feeling threatened or brow-beaten to return to work for fear of a "worse case scenario."

True, I cannot pass harsh judgement upon women who decide to work outside of the home and place their child(ren) in childcare, but it's very annoying to me that women who decide to actually stay at home for longer than the actual "maternity period" get a "bad rap" for not "doing their part" and earning a paycheck "at the office."

Full-time Homemakers/Housewives are looked upon as "the leeches" of society even though we work hard to take care of our homes and families, and enjoy doing so without grumbling.

In the past, I have tasted the "success" of the "working world" for several years, and it's not "all that." I enjoy taking care of my home and family full-time and regardless of what society says (even though it is difficult to ignore the insults at times), I will continue to enjoy being a homemaker.

tzivia said...

I love your post, and I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier said than done, especially since you're in Israel. I am an Orthodox Jew living in New York and it is simply impossible to pay for basic necessities on one income unless that one income is in the six-figures. And by basic necessities, I mean rent/mortgage- which is expensive in NY in general and even more so in an orthodox neighborhood- food- kosher food is 2-3 times more expensive than non-kosher- clothing for the children- everything is just more expensive in this city- and most importantly, a Jewish education- which can run five figures PER CHILD here.

I wanted to stay home, but it simply wasn't realistic. Even before my oldest was in school, I had to work part-time just to cover the rent; the rest fell to my husband and it was still a stretch. At this point, I am working almost full-time, but I'm one of the "lucky ones"- my mother is retired, so she looks after the little ones; if I can't be there all the time, at least their grandmother is!- and I only work until 3, so I am home when the older ones get home from school. And with two kids in yeshiva, we are still barely making our rent payments.

The good news is, we are set to move to Israel in 2 years (We just started house-hunting); losing tuition should be a big burden off of us, and should, please G-d, allow me to finally do what I'm supposed to be doing and raise my kids. But I still thought you should know that not every woman who works wants to, and not everyone's budget can be played around with to allow for staying home. For us, the only real solution is to move halfway across the world. True, we have always wanted to make this move, but the fact that it is actually also the only way to make our budget work on one income should be taken seriously. And not everyone can do what we're doing.

Lee Anne said...

Hello Anna,
I have been following your blog for a while and I want to thank you for strongly stating the voice of reason in the current of opposition.
When I read today's post, it was serendipitous because I am trying to cut loose from my job to devote more time and energy into my home. Although I do not have children yet, I plan to in the next year. Not only do I want to "study up" on that, but I also want to start building my home life.
I, too, am a product of a feminist movement and am a "recovering" feminist. In fact, when my husband first met me, he was terrified of me and my college roommates because we were hard-core feminists! But at that time, my roommates and I worked at daycares and it was the first time I thought to myself, "Never will I put my own children in daycare! I don't care HOW important my job is!" These children were suffering silently, unknowingly, without a parent at home to take care of their individual needs. They were (literally) biting and scratching their way through the day just to get some attention from their overworked, overwhelmed teacher. I almost thought one of my children was going to die when she would not wake from her nap and her temperature read over 103 degrees F. We called her dad (her mother worked nearly 100 miles away, he was the closest relative at 30 miles away) and told him to come quickly to take her to the hospital, and he said he would. He came 5 hours later, at his normal (late) pick up time...she came back to school the day after, when he could legally take her back, just so he would not miss another day of work.
Sorry to ramble...but my point is, it is great to continue hearing these words of encouragement, giving me the strength to head towards the path I know is right (even though it is not the "glamorous" path), when the rest of the world, even my husband, is telling me otherwise.
Thank you,
Lee Anne

Erika said...

Thank You for such a lovely post. I have always been a stay at home mom and my oldest is 15. I worked for 4 months when they were 5 and 3and they came with me I drove a school bus. I was away from home 5 hours a day and even though it was only 5 hours it was to long even with my little ones with me.

I love being at home and with my children. I know this is where I am suppose to be at this season of my life.

Erika

Holly Days Closet said...

You are truly an inspiration. I'm so glad I found your blog.
Holly

Kat said...

This is an issue that has been weighing so heavily on me lately. I'm expecting my first baby soon and want to stay home so desperately but am terrified of giving up my insurance. My husband is a small business owner and doesn't qualify for any kind of group rate and individual insurance is expensive and often not very comprehensive. I definitely feel trapped.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Anna! I agree wholeheartedly! Gracie

Lena said...

Very true! If only it was this easy, sometimes life is a bit too complicated. Especially if your husband doesnt support your values.

Kolfinna said...

Just curious, what is your opinion of a family owned business where husband and wife, and children work side by side? My husband and I run our own business and we homeschool our boys (they are teenagers now). We all work together at our buisiness. I often wish I could be at home, but I know my husband needs my assistance with the business until the boys are more comfortable helping out without me. It is working for us, and God has provided for us for the past 10+ yesrs. For that I am very thankful.

Nothing shocks me anymore... said...

"Will learn to hit back when picked on?" That line is hystrical.. trust me they figure out how to hit well enough without any preperatory training.

Jo said...

I appear to be one of these women - however I do not work full-time for social pressures or the need for money or any other reason given (nor am I a feminist) - I do it becuase I love my job as a statistician. I completed a 3 year Sociology degree always with the plan to work. My children are now adults but at any time they needed me I would leave my work and go to my children. They always came first and I made sure my job suited their needs.

I work in an organisation that is flexible (and secure) + I earn as much as my husband. Sadly women sit in 2 groups - for or against work - I am not run off my feet - however I am very organised - I would be totally bored if I was at home all day. That's just me and I find it sad that the social problems of the world are blamed on women who work.

I did not home-school my children, it is something that I would not have chosen if I had been a stay-at-home mum anyway.

Please don't place all working women in the same bucket. We are not all the same, nor do we neglect our children or responsible for the problems of this world. It is far more complex than women at work.

These are just my views and I respect others who have chosen to stay at home. We each make our own decisions for many different reasons - that is what makes us different.

I place my trust in the Lord and he has provided for me - I do all things in prayer.

Persuaded said...

Well said my dear, very well said indeed.

You know I have provided daycare in my home for young children and infants off and on throughout the years. Although I strive to provide the highest quality care that I am able, I am often struck by how lacking that care is. No one else can care for a child with the same diligence, sensitivity and love that a mother can. Keep those babies at home, ladies... you will never regret giving your child too much time and love.

Mrs. White said...

These kinds of posts are so helpful to many mothers.

Blessings
Mrs. White

www.timothydeanmills.com said...

Amen! Thank you for sharing these important thoughts.

--Tim
www.timothydeanmills.com

Kaleanani said...

Thank you for posting this. It's very timely for me. My son has had a school evaluation (for some special issues that he has had since a baby) to see if he needs therapy. He does NOT, but they were pressuring me because he was not in preschool already. (He's going to be 3 in the spring.) When I told them that we were not planning on sending him to a preschool, they worried that we wouldn't be able to prepare him for kindergarten and beyond. When I announced that we were actually planning on - shock - homeschooling him, the uproar started. When they realized they didn't do a thorough job of convincing me on the spot to enroll him (assuring me that it was free! as if that was the only consideration) several team members sent me home emails privately with links of various schools I can put him in and the costs of each. They did so because they were privately concerned that he would not be getting the education he needs. Well then. I have as much or more education than most of the teachers on the public school staff, we have a thorough plan for homeschooling, we have the resources to give him a great education at home, where he belongs (ESPECIALLY as a toddler!)... So what is their problem? I can't figure it out.

Tracy said...

I think the ideal is for parents to raise their children. I work around my husband schedule. I work 1 or 2 days a week. While I'm working they have a wonderful time with their father. I have to work but there is always a way to make your children first. Daycare was never an option for us. We also homeschool our children. If you have to work I feel the best way to do it is to work around each others schedule. We made some bad descison ith money and this is our best solution. I would love to be home fulltime and not work at all but that is not an option for us. For women like me your post can make us feel bad. Please consider women like me who truely are making their kids first and are doing their best for their famililes.

Melissa D said...

I'd love to know more about your "family meals vs low-fat snacks" epiphany. :-)

I work from home (much less this year, due to the economy) and am lucky to have a job (writing) that is very easy to put down and pick up as I feel to. But "luck" is the luck you make in many ways. If you want to stay at home, you can make it work. I think motherhood hits women with a shock, especially the conviction how much they want to stay with their babies when they arrive. I encourage all younger women I know in my field who are still childless but who hope to marry and have kids to do as much as they can now to ensure they can stay home once the kids come. Save money. Learn how to keep a family and home as best you can. Live on one income after marrying. We did this for a while and it changed everything.

And oh how I wish I'd taken even one domestic science course in high school or college!

--Melissa, home for 4 years now

Pendragon said...

You can't blame feminism for the fact that working women are sometimes exhausted because they are doing all the work at home on top of their regular jobs. You also can't blame feminism for the fact that sometimes women make much less than their husbands. You also can't blame feminism for the fact that so many couples subtract daycare costs from only the woman's salary and then conclude that her salary isn't worthwhile. (In fact, the more equitable method is to subtract daycare costs from both salaries.)

Feminism says the opposite. Feminism strongly opposes the second shift and the wage gap. This idea that women should be doing all sorts of cooking and cleaning on top of their full-time money-earning jobs is pretty much the very opposite of everything femiism stands for. So is the wage gap. The whole point of feminism is that we shouldn't be second class -- and certainly working two jobs (at home and outside the home) while hubby sits around with his feet up would make us second class.

Feminism also does not say that women are worthless without a paycheck. Society, in general, however, often values people based on their economic productivity. Women have suffered historically because we were judged on that standard while simultaneously being barred from many opportunities for economic productivity. All feminism says is that we ought not to be placed in these ridiculous double binds, nor ought we to be barred from equal citizenship whether in the economic, political, cultural, or religious realms.

Feminism does not "brainwash" anyone. Women are pretty capable of making their own decisions -- and yes, I include religious stay-at-home moms, when I say that. If feminism "brainwashed" women into believing they cannot take care of their houses and children full-time, then there would be no such thing as a feminist housewife. In fact, I have known many feminist housewives. Housewives are often among the most ardent feminists because they see first-hand the dangers and difficulties of their position, and do not believe it should be forced on women either through religion, cultural pressure, or otherwise. If there is any brainwashing going on, it is the overwhelmingly widespread stigma against men serving as full-time dads.

Pendragon said...

By the way, I will share that, after years of remaining childless-by-choice, my husband and I have decided that, if possible, we will have a test tube baby or adopt a child. We have some appointments set up to investigate the test tube route next month. (Any biological child would have to be a test tube baby due to my husband's infertility. Also I am getting old, which doesn't help.)

So, if all goes well, I may be putting my money where my mouth is and co-heading a two-income family with child. I am glad that we will be doing it as older parents where our jobs and living arrangements and incomes are extremely stable.

I don't agree that early daycare is monstrous. I think that most of the time throughout history, babies and young children have been in the care of extended families and communities, rather than just with the mother.

I also recollect my own childhood in a nuclear family with a stay-at-home mom. Despite my mother's devotion, I was not strapped to her hip constantly. I remember even as a 2 or 3 year old, spending long, long hours playing on my own without contact with my mother. She wasn't neglectful -- she was cleaning, cooking, and shopping. By the time I was four, I was begging to go to school. My parents finally relented and sent me to a pre-school. I think stay-at-home mothers work hard at home (I saw my own mother work very hard) and perform valuable work. It is not a slam on stay-at-home mothers, nor is it a monstrous choice, to pay others or delegate to my husband a significant chunk of that work.

Lea said...

HI!

I've commented here before but not on this topic, but some things you have said made me _need_to comment on this post.

I work outside of my home and so did my mother. My children, who are preschool age, are in an in-home daycare with a small handful of other children of all ages and a woman who loves being with children. I don't expect her to educate my children or do anything but love them and teach them basic manners.

My family is the only one I know where all three meals a day are homemade, we eat an evening meal together as a family at least 5 days a week (occasionally hubby gets stuck at work late), my children help simple chores and are learning home-keeping skills (yes, the boys too).

My mother also worked outside of the home and I one of two people I grew up with who learned to sew, preserve, clean, mend, bake, cook from scratch and properly care for my home. The other also had a working mother.

I know many, many stay-at-home moms whose homes are filthy, their meals all come from a box, and whose families don't eat meals or otherwise socialize together. I have several stay-at-home friends who are amazed that I make all my bread at home from scratch rather than with a bread maker machine or store bought. They are amazed that my home is clean and comfortable and that I can cook meals at home.

I work outside of my home because God called me to. My husband, parents and I all believe this with our whole hearts and we feel very blessed to have a wonderful daycare provider for our children and that I have a job with a flexible schedule.

Are there late nights with little sleep and times of stress? Yes. I don't often feel like I'm going to collapse, or faint or things like that. Do I have days? Certainly - we all do. But that doesn't necessarily come from working outside of my home. In fact, I think I am more mindful and deliberate about the time I spend at home now. I cut out things that aren't necessary - I love to do embroidery but rarely do it now because I simply need to spend time with my children and husband.

If you're interested in reading about the perspective that I was taught growing up, Ingrid Hult Trobisch wrote a book called The Confident Woman that expresses it very well.

But I don't think the things you are talking about are coming purely from mothers working outside of the home. It is coming from a general neglect of family, a society with too fast of a pace, and a love of material and monetary things over people.

Wow! I wrote a lot! Thanks for listening...
Lea

Bobbi said...

Thanks for reaffirming what I do every day. Although I stay home because I believe it is fully needed and necessary...there are days where I feel "put down" by the society around me for making this precious choice. Thank you for the encouragement!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Ladies, there are so many comments I would like to respond to on a more personal basis, but the internet connection is patchy so I'd better just say the most important things.

I do not put all women who work outside the home in one bucket, and I certainly understand that some women do that because they must. Actually that was one of the points of my post. Many women are trapped in their jobs, or feel trapped, which is mostly the same thing.

Also, there is a big difference between working full-time in an office and operating a family business.

And finally, one might of course subtract daycare out of both salaries or just the wife's or any other way you can think of. But the point is, if the cost of daycare is close to the sum of the wife's paycheck, financially it won't matter whether she worked or not.

For women who love their jobs, there might be other considerations (which I won't discuss right now, as time doesn't allow), but when a woman is not crazy about her job and it's not very profitable either - and I know MANY such women - what remains is the social pressure to be "out there doing something."

Anonymous said...

I know many women who work and are not crazy about their jobs. However, most earn more than a 'fraction' of their husband's salaries - I would say on average 2/3 or 3/4 of what their husband earns, and they work proportionately less hours. Most women are not stupid. They don't work only because of societal pressure (which is enormous here in Israel), but because their income makes a huge difference for their families.
Daycare is not that expensive in Israel, and unless you have a baby every year or earn minimum wage, you will be earning money if you work.

However, the current situation is surely not fair or healthy. Many women work in unfulfilling jobs and come home to a 'second shift'. There will always be a second shift in families with children; feminists would say men and women should share it equally, but someone will always have to do that extra work. And right now it is women who do the bulk of it. Or the 'second shift' is neglected, forgotten, meals aren't cooked, the house is a mess, and the woman is stressed to the max.
Of course not all families are like this. I know some women can handle it all, career, husband, babies, housework, with finesse, better than any SAHMer. But alas we are not all so energetic or organized.
True, this generation has seen a surge of ADHD, autism, Asperger's, etc. I know so many families who have a child who is not neurotypical. But working mothers have NOTHING to do with it. Stay at home families have no less incidence of any of these problems, unfortunately. If only it were so simple.

One point to consider - raising a family where one of the kids has special needs is excrutiatingly demanding. (I should know). The stress tears families apart. I read somewhere that parents of autistic kids have an 80% divorce rate. So if anything, in today's generation with its ills, it should be more acceptable for mothers to stay home and reduce all round stress.

For Tzvia - far be it from me to discourage anyone from moving to Israel. But do think long and hard if you're doing it in order to stay home. Women do not stay home here, at all. Unless you are moving to an upscale anglo-saxon enclave with its own rules, it is highly strange here for a woman to stay home long term (beyond a few months or maximum year for each baby). Mainly women who can't get a job stay home in Israel.
Your husband will likely earn far less than he does in the States, and your living expenses may be higher. Your income may be as needed in Israel as it was in the States. Tuition is far cheaper here, but many religious schools/yeshivot/ ulpanot still cost money.

My hat's off to Anna who dares be rebellious and stay home in a culture that really frowns upon it. If you're househunting, make sure you buy in a community where some women do stay home. Otherwise it can get lonely.
Tammy

Walters Inc said...

This is such a good post today!
Being a mother is not just an obligation or tedious job. It is an investment in your child's life.
It is amazing to me how much we can accomplish in shaping the character of our children by, just being there and being consistent.
No daycare, however attractive will be able to fill the parents shoes.
Also, why would we want this?
I applaud your post today Anna and with all of my heart, agree.

Walters Inc said...

This is such a good post today!
Being a mother is not just an obligation or tedious job. It is an investment in your child's life.
It is amazing to me how much we can accomplish in shaping the character of our children by, just being there and being consistent.
No daycare, however attractive will be able to fill the parents shoes.
Also, why would we want this?
I applaud your post today Anna and with all of my heart, agree.

Nancy Helen said...

I never, ever, ever get tired of hearing your thoughts on these matters, Anna!!! THANK YOU :)

h.n said...

great post! I realise that I might be repeating what some have already said but yes, as a woman expecting her first baby... I agree very much that it would be best for a child to be taken cared of at home by a mother.

Having said that, I firmly believe that it is not whether you are a "stay at home" or "working" mum that would greatly impact your child. It is HOW you parent. It depends on your parenting skills.
I know stay at home mothers who have poor parenting skills. They allow their children to watch too much tv, they yell and hit their children, they dont spend as much time as they should making the house a caring and loving place and making healthy meals for their kids. And Im not talking about women with poor socio-economic statuses. Im talking about well educated women who are just not.. interested in seeing that they are flawed. And before you pin it on their childhood being flawed (perhaps they went to daycare themselves).. one of these women is my sister. We were raised by a stay at home mother who provided a warm loving environment, taught us to cook and sew and be stewards of the home.

I have seen working mothers who put a lot of effort into their parenting. Some chose to work and others do it out of necessity. In many countries, medical care is not covered and very expensive. We are also expected to care for our parents, which is like a double whammy financially.

Having said all this, I think young women should put a lot of thought into their future. I know it is really hard to figure out what life is going to be in 5-10 years. But learning how to cook healthy meals, sew, keep a home and save can benefit a single woman (or man) for sure.
Thank you for your lovely post.. I know Im going to get a lot of flak for staying at home well after my baby turns one. I shall keep this post in mind! :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Tammy, the price of daycare centers, at least where we live, is calculated according to the family income. Those who earn less, get a considerable discount. Those who place their baby in daycare for more hours, also get a considerable discount.

I know a woman whose husband earns around 20,000 shekels per month. She's a teacher and only earns 2,500. But because their family income is high, and because she only works part-time, she pays a high price for every hour of the daycare center. She puts out 1,800 shekels out of her pocket each month, which leaves her with 700 at the end of the month. And she doesn't like her job all that much and complains about being constantly stressed.

I know many such cases, and it makes me angry that women feel they must work simply for the sake of working.

Anonymous said...

Anna- 1800 NIS per month (maybe $400?) is I believe the maximum in Israel for a government daycare (private ones cost more). The daycares usually run from 7:30 am- 4 pm.
It does not pay to work part time and send to full-time daycare. That's pretty obvious. And part-time daycare is usually private, so does not cost much less.
A full time teacher in an Israeli high school works 24 hrs/week. If she is a mother to young children, she can work 19 hrs/ week and still earn almost a full time salary (which is what I do). In elementary, I believe teachers work 30 hrs per week. Summers are off, as are many holidays.

So your friend is working very few hours per week (10?15?) and sending to full-time daycare. No, it's not worth it.


On the other hand, maybe your friend is looking at the long-term. If she plans on working full-time in the future, within a decade or so she will be earning 5000-7000 NIS, depending on her education, etc.
[Although - I have to wonder - her husband's income is quite high for Israel. Unless they are living in a very high cost city, they really should be OK on his salary alone].

Personally, I wish I could quit. It's not the 19 hrs in class so much as the piles and piles of marking, etc. But I no longer have any kids in daycare, and we'd never make it without my income.

Plus I am too cowardly to make a stance...I can only imagine what people would say were I to 'stay home' at this stage of life (no little baby). It would certainly be considered lazy and mean of me to leave all the burden of supporting the family on my husband's shoulders.
Tammy

The Original Wombman said...

I enjoyed this post. For me, I think the ideal situation would be me being able to earn income with my children in tow or close-by. I don't know if being a stay-at-home is all that natural based on the fact that it can be so isolating. I think women working together, caring for their children together would be a more desirable situation. But it seems like the choices we have as women are still limited in many ways--so much so that there's still this stay-at-home vs. work-out-of-home dichotomy with plenty of judgment and societal pressure on each side.

Lee Anne said...

Hello again,

I had to comment again because when I read what Veronica Boulden said about the unproductive housewives ruining the image of professional housewives, it clicked! (Sorry, I'm a slow learner...)

YES! These ladies are one main reason why being a professional housewife is not considered a valued profession! It's like someone saying they work for the Department of Motor Vehicles (just say "DMV" in California, and you'll get disgusted responses) -- they have created such a reputation of having lazy, uncaring representatives working for it, that if someone were to say, "I work for the DMV," they would most likely get the same response as someone saying "I'm a housewife." These people only see the bad examples, and those bad examples either get sensationalized (because sensationalism of bad news is popular) or they are the only examples the working class people see (because the professional housewives are busy at home or at the grocery store, not at the mall).
I can't think of one good example of a professional housewife that either my husband nor I know. I think this is one reason why when I told my husband a few weeks ago, "I want to work only part-time, from home," his first reaction was, "Well, then, I am going to put you to work! You will be working far harder from home than you would be from work." He thought that I just wanted to laze about the house all day, surfing the internet in my house robe. He didn't realize that I already had a full day scheduled, and that I plan to dress nice and professionally each day before taking care of my house cleaning, cooking and writing (my profession).
I type this, of course, as I sit still in my house robe and having surfed the internet for about an hour this morning. But, today is my day off from work (yet I will still work from home for about 5 hours...Americans have a very hard time taking vacations and holidays) and I am mentally exhausted. I hope that reducing my hours from work and getting to work from home, hopefully this will happen within a month, will give my mind the "vacation" that it needs to refocus and get into that professional mindset.
However, my boss is having a hard time allowing this to happen; to her, our newspaper is her entire life and identity. She grew up in the 60s and I see the dichotomy of feminist movement vs. womanhood in her. She has been divorced twice and is currently single. Her job is her pride and her identity, which is fine in my opinion because some women are called to professions. However, I think she reflects her values on me, and she feels that I, too, should make the newspaper my life. I think this has pushed me more towards being a professional housewife...I never wanted my job to be my life, even as a feminist I thought this. My job is NOT fulfilling -- sure, it strokes my ego at times, but when it comes down to it, it is not fulfilling. Nor does it pay well! I make 20% (if that) of what my husband makes! Plus, no benefits! And I work with dejected, unmotivated co-workers who complain about being at the office 70% of the day. Housewives...this is what you are "missing out" on...do you miss it?

Charis said...

YES!!! Ditto Anna's thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work. I have been married 26years and a homeschooling mom for 17 years. I have not regretted one moment of this time well spend. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I always marvel at people who tell you what to do. Didn't you come from a Russia? This country is not exactly known for stay at home moms. You have experience first hand of working mothers and its results. You have been blessed at a young age with many truths that many people only arrive at when it is to late. Why many woman today cannot see raising children and keeping a home as a vocation and a full-time duty is the greatest of lament.

Gombojav Tribe said...

I love that Chesterton quote that Literature Goddess posted above! I love me some Chesterton. He always says what I feel better than I ever could!

Kat said...

It is so important to put the care and raising of our families only second to our devotion to the Lord...whether we work outside or inside the home. As a special education teacher, I am constantly looking for ways to better serve at home. I believe that God blesses my efforts and indeed has carved out the life I now live. Just a couple of years ago I was in such a deep depression about working. It seemed every book I picked up carried the message that I could not work outside the home AND be a faithful wife and mother. God has put so many mothers (of all kinds) in my life and I have learned so much from them. I now feel so much more satisfied in the life I've been given. Hats off to us all I say! Blessings, Anna.

Anonymous said...

I am rather shocked by the annoymous who mentioned having a child and giving it to someone else. Are they serious?!

You lament about working mothers, but there is someone who was willing to give away her own child! Talk about messed up priorities!

J

Mrs. Anna T said...

Tammy, my friend works about 20 hours a week. No, she doesn't need the money, she just wonders what she'll do after she's done having babies at home, and is afraid she won't be able to go back to teaching if she quits now. She's only 30, though, and doesn't think to stop having babies anytime soon. And there's the social pressure of course.

Anonymous said...

Amen!
There is tons and tons of research that shows that, especially for young children (under 3 years in particular), daycare is unequviocally harmful. I would highly recommend Dr. Brenda Hunter's book "Home by Choice". She is a psychologist who compiled a lot of the research for stay at home motherhood. Le Leche League, especially in teh older editions of their books (before their focus changed a little) also has a lot of evidence for SAH motherhood.

What was fascinating in her book is that she had a section called "The emotional vunerability of boys". Boys react especially poor to working mothers and in as little as 10 hours a week showed the kind of negative effects that it took girls 30 hours a week (the more severe effects) to show. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Lori said...

Anna,

Great post as always.

I just have to add my comments. As the mother of almost 8 ( come June)....I have never regretted leaving my full-time RN job to raise my children. Just last night at the Christmas Eve service, one of the pastors told me again how our two oldest "stand out in a crowd"...and do you know why? I know in my gut that it is b/c I went against the grain of society and stayed home with them. Children MUST have the attention and time from their parents...particularly Mom..as usually it is Mom who is more sensitive to the child's needs...not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally, mentally. Mom is the one who knows the child's God-given bent and how to connect with the child...not daycare. I just cringe even taking my children to a one hour Sundayschool class on Sunday!

Mom's let's focus on who we want our kids to be when they are grown to give us a vision for helping/teaching them when they are young.

AND teens need their mom's just as much as the babies do. My teen daughter and son are constantly telling me : " Mom we wouldn't be the people we are today if you hadn't quit work and stayed home with ut. Thanks Mom."

Now, that's what I call a paycheck!!! ;)

Sheri said...

So well said and well written my dear friend!!! I agree 100%!

Anonymous said...

It's easy to go to extremes though. The poster above who 'cringes' when she leaves her kids in Sunday school class...that's not healthy either.

Kids ideally shouldn't be in daycare 10 hrs a day, but neither should they be shut under their parents' eyes 24/7. Sunday school, friends, relatives, sports - these are all important aspects of the community that kids deserve to experience without their mom watching their every move.

Totalitarian supervision of kids is a modern SAHM phenomenon. Back in the day, moms often left their kids with extended family, whether they were gathering in the fields or going to market. Even while doing the housework, often others were watching the kids.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your eloquent post, Anna!

Lori said...

Tammy,

Lol, Just b/c I'm a "modern" SAHM doesn't mean I an "totalitarian supervisor"! All 7 of our kids are within earshot most days, however, I do not dictate their every move like some mother's do their children. Of course, I observe their likes and dislikes and strive to guide them according to how they were created to be.

Actually, I have several kids that play sports, act in drama, have music lessons, play on worship teams, go to Bible study, ect.....without me present...and when I am present, I am not on the child's case about how to hit the ball, run,play the music, act, ect. like I hear other mother's doing. Incidentally, these are the mom's who work who I hear trying to dictate their child's every move.

As for my cringing about the SS hour...I have seen ALOT of untruth's taught in SS...and not knowing the teachers or what is planned to be taught that day...that's why I cringe. Children are very impressionable and just b/c it is a church function doesn't make it a "safe" environment and doesn't guarantee that the child will be taught the parents values.

This country is already reaping the harvest of parents decisions to work and let someone else raise their children via daycare. ( And please, I'm NOT talking about those who must work) however, it appears that there are many women , like Tammy, who posted earlier that she "was too cowardly to take a stance" and that now with children out of daycare felt that she must help earn income due to feeling like if she didn't, society would think her lazy."

Well, at some point we must decide if we will live our lives according to our conscience/desire/God's plan or live b/c society thinks it's way is correct. Personally, I didn't want to allow someone else the privelage to raise my children b/c it was the "politically correct, society normal" way of raising a generation.

As I watch my teens and their decisions, hear them interact with people in varying cirumstances ( either with me around or not....) I am more and more glad for the lifestyle we have chosen in our home.