I would like to refer to an accusation often aimed at stay-at-home mothers, saying that we hide out at home from the real world and all real responsibilities. Of course, in my eyes this argument is ridiculous, but since I’ve heard it repeated more than once, I thought I’d dedicate a post to it.
First off, what responsibility is a more important and more constantly demanding one than that of taking care of a family and running a household? The homemaker might not be earning money, which means that the financial responsibility falls mainly on the husband’s shoulders, however, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t participate in planning the family budget and stretching it as far as it can go. A penny saved is more than a penny earned, and a mother at home can do so much as a means of saving money.
Just last night, I made a gross estimation of how much we saved so far by keeping the children at home with me, versus the “normal” scenario of placing them at daycare when they would be 3 months old, and I was astounded by the sum. I doubt I could have made much more than that, had I worked outside the home, certainly not with two little ones! And that’s just daycare, I didn’t even take into account things like travel costs and other expenses. For example, the plain sturdy clothes I wear now everyday for things like pulling up weeds and working in the kitchen wouldn’t fit for work – I would need new and nicer ones, not to mention we’d have to pay someone else to do the yard work.
I think this argument can be turned the other way around, and it can be said that in fact, a woman who spends all her day in the office, while she earns money that goes towards her family, doesn’t really deal with the responsibilities of raising her children and keeping house. When the family briefly gathers late in the evening, it’s easy to dismiss any behavioral problems, or things around the house that must be taken care of.
My point is, we can’t do everything, and in a family which practices role division, the homemaker certainly does her fair share.
I’m hereby challenging the statement that home isn’t the “real world”. On the contrary, home is the most organic and natural part of society, and more “real world” than any corporate office or university campus, where a lot of the doings, as well as the socializing, are largely artificial (though often useful). I like how Susan Schaeffer refers to home as the “gravity center”. Home is the place where family gathers, children are raised, plans are made, and a lot of real, solid, down-to-earth work is done.
Many women extend their help and encouragement to others, do countless beautiful projects and even start businesses and money-making venues – all right in their homes. Not that I think a busy mother must feel obligated to do any of those things in order to “justify” her presence at home. I think she is doing just fine even on those days when seemingly nothing is accomplished – as long as she gives love to her children, and there are meals on the table, however simple, and the day has some semblance of a structure, it’s alright.