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
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.