I sometimes hear stay-at-home mothers proudly saying that they "work just as hard as women who also have a job outside the home" or that "their days are as packed as anyone's" and they have no time or space to breathe.
I believe, however, that the point of our staying home isn't to measure up against those who try to successfully juggle family life and career. After all, a large part of the joy of home is opting out of the rat race, right? And what have we done if we can say that our days are as hectic as if we also held a job outside the home?
There's an enormous pressure on stay-at-home mothers to prove that they aren't "wasting their time", to justify their being at home for their families – something that doesn't need to be justified, in my opinion, but still often leads to mothers accepting extra responsibilities and activities (even if they have enough on their plate already) such as social functions, volunteering, watching other people's children, starting home businesses, and trying to fill up every moment of the day.
There seem to be two opposing forces tugging at women's lives. One is what I call "the syndrome of entitlement" – it's the notion that we easily can and deserve to have it all, sidestepping every possible obstacle of common sense and responsibility. You want a career but have little children? Put them in someone else's care. Want to have a fancy house but lack the funds? Convince your husband to succumb to an impossible mortgage you will be paying off for the rest of your lives. Want to have more time for yourself? Demand that it must be given to you, at the expense of other people. We supposedly "deserve" a continuous supply of new clothes, manicures, expensive hairdos and weekly outings to restaurants. The entire "I deserve" myth is propped up by the culture of consumption, which is in its turn an essence of greed.
On the other hand, there's the "must be, must do" idea, of us having to be everything to everyone: "fulfilled" in every area of our lives, successful mothers, homemakers and career women, who scoff at the idea of compromise.
In reality, these two forces are two sides of the same coin: the refusal to understand that everything in life comes with a price, that by choosing a certain path we are thereby stepping off other paths. The rebellion against God's ways, against the heart of a wife and mother which draws us to home, to being there for the ones we love – perhaps not having every material good of this world, but in joy and peace.
Ladies, we don't have to be overwhelmingly busy in order to be hardworking wives and mothers. On the contrary, I believe it would be counter-productive. Again, if we opted to stay home in order (among other things) not to be frazzled and to have peace of mind, which is so much more conductive to happy and smoothly flowing family life, and yet we frantically attempt to erase every trace of relaxation from our days, what have we accomplished?
A couple of generations ago, the modern pace of life which has now become the norm would have been seen for what it really is – crazy. Restless. Unhealthy for families, for little children. We should be proud, not ashamed, of keeping an island of peacefulness in the midst of the world's rush, rush, rushing to nowhere. It's important to set a gentle, quiet rhythm to our days, to take a look at what already is on our plate – and if you have at least one little child at home, I'm estimating that in most cases it's more than enough – before we accept additional responsibilities, try to achieve perfection, or in any way turn our days into a hazy blur of ticking things off a to-do list.
The fact is, a day at home with your little one(s) will most likely be full and busy whether or not you try to make it so. We don't have to try and cram more into our day in order to be continuously occupied. It usually happens on its own!
Photo credit: allposters.com