Wednesday, June 1, 2011

About hiding out

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. 


Anonymous said...

Whether you stay at home or work away from home, every mother is a full-time mother. It is rude to dismiss women who work away from home, as not taking care of their children. I was raised by my mother, due to the death of my father, and she had to study (when I was little) and still works full-time as a teacher, now with two other children. She raised us, and took care of her home, and took care of disabled children all day at her school.

Now, I've been following your blog for a long a while, and while I don't always see eye to eye with you, I respect you and admire you for doing what you find right. But my mother did the same, and to dismiss her as not taking care of her children just because she works away from home is offensive. I know that you were turning around an argument, but just hear me out. Women who work away from home, sometimes have no other choice. It's work or let their children go hungy, and have them taken away.
Others simply enjoy the challenges that their work life gives them, and I believe it is unfair to fault them on that account, even if that clashes with your own view.

I am sorry for the huge comment.


Anonymous said...

Your post reminds me of a thought that I have been developing over the last year or so. As a homemaker, I may not generate income in the sense of a paycheck to the bank, but I do generate wealth. Improving the landscaping, serving high quality meals, organizing and decorating the home, all of this adds to the total monetary value of our home. Also, by mending clothes or making certain clothes that are too expensive for us to buy, cooking from scratch, shopping for sales and bargains, and generally maintaining our possessions so as prolong their life spans, I am, in a sense, generating income. I figure that I take my husband's income and double it. Plus, there is the general peaceful and un-hectic quality of life that is maintained by my work, and that is something that is hard to put a figure onto, but is certainly valuable!


Stateside Mary said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog since I found it. Though we live different lives in different countries and in different faith's there are universal's that all/most mother's can share.

I have to work outside the home. Though I have my college degree and I enjoy my work, if I had my preference, I would be a stay at home mom. Unfortunately I did not make the choices that would enable that in my life, but I have friends are at home and who home school and I support them wholeheartedly.

My personal opinion is that there is some level of tranference going on with some who criticize women who are able to be stay at home wives and mother's. Understanding and agreeing that the best place for a child is at home will challenge the ideas of those who have set out for years, to change society in many ways.

I just say, you have chosen to be where you are supposed to be and have chosen the most difficult yet most blessed vocation for a wife.

Jeannine said...

Anna, I have found what you said to be true in my life as well, and I'm glad you said it!

As far as defending mom's who HAVE to work...I don't believe any at-home mom who believes this is best and blogs about it (myself included) is talking about women who HAVE to work because their husbands have died or are no longer in the picture.

We get irked with the women whose husbands make more than enough to support the family, yet they still choose to work so that they can redo the kitchen, vacation in the Bahamas and drive a BMW. They hire out the house work and look down on those of us who prefer the work of home instead of office work. These are the women who write off homemaking as "not being in the real world."

I believe at-home mothers and mothers who work, but whose hearts are at home, are on the same page. But the person who wrote Anna the letter that started this does not have her heart at home. She disparaged homemaking, and Anna replied.

Michelle Therese said...

I look forward to your letter! Thank you so much for writing


Analytical Adam said...

Here in the United States the Government pays working women if they send their kids to day with a 20% credit of the expense. So the government subsides day care.

This of course means that those that do raise their kids on their own as well as every else has to make up for this tax break working women get.

So if anyone is using others it is the feminists who want other people to pay taxes to subsidize their less efficient lifestyle. If it was so great why do they need a tax credit by the government that requires others to pay taxes.

From what I have heard Israel's tax system is even worse in promoting activity that isn't really efficient.

Analytical Adam said...

Also just reading the first comment I don't understand this sudden focus on career when a husband passes away. In the past women tried to get remarried when men died in middle age. There are male widow out there who lost their wife in middle age as well. I'm sure when the husband was alive they were focused on career as well. Thank God it happens less then it use to but it just doesn't add up the whole attitude they have as if they almost are happy their husband died so they can take over being the breadwinner. They want them to die through a dangerous job or endless wars they should be sent to.

In the past women looked to get remarried and these women do not which that is their role to be the helpmate of a man and sadly there are men who lonely widows as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Adam,

Are you really implying mother wanted my father to die so she could work?
Are you really?
My mother and father got together because of their love for each other. My father then passed away.
In your opinion my mother was wishing for him to die, and once he died she was happy because she could get to work - well guess what, genius, she was already working and she still is because she enjoys it and because she has to.
There is no one woman who has lost her husband, who secretly wished for it to happen, so she could become the breadwinner. Saying so is ridiculous, and also quite hateful. Also, most women in the past didn't look to get remarried with their husband cold in the grave. My grandmother was widowed at 45 and has never remarried, because she still misses her husband. Some people love each other and marry because of other concerns than having someone to provide for them. And guess what, she worked too, and enjoyed it.

And can I just repeat that your comment implies that my mother wanted my father today, and was happy when he did?
Can you not see how hurtful that comment is?

(A man who has lost his wife is called a widower)


Lady Anne said...

Adam, there is a lot more to being married than having a husband to pay the bills. Marrying strictly for money is practically a form of prostitution. A woman who is widowed or divorced looks for a man who will be kind to her, loves her children as his own, and has interests that are compatible with her own. I was truly blessed to find a good, God-fearing man after my first husband died, but I also considered - and rejected - quite a few men who didn't measure up. (BTW, in order to qualify for the tax credit, your earnings must be below a certain amount; it is not available to the "million dollar" family. As a widow with two children I didn't qualify for it, altho I did get food stamps.)

In the meantime, my daughters learned how to keep house according to their ages and skills, we counted out my pay into stacks for the rent, food, church, and so forth, and put it into envelopes, so they learned the value of money and how to budget. They knew how many hours Momma had to work to pay for a pair of shoes, and so forth. Although it wasn't an ideal situation, they have said they were grateful for the lessons learned, so that when they did get married they know how to do these things. And they are all stay-at-home moms!

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that my mother was also widowed when we were young and so went from being a stay at home mom to returning to work a year later.Of course she was still mom but by no stretch of the imagination was she a full time mom while being a full time employee. The worst parts were coming home to an empty house after school and summers . We were "old enough" to be left to our own devices and that is not good .12 and 10 certainly too old for a babysitter.I believe women who see home as just a place to relax and do laundry after a full day of school or work can not imagine the amount of work, freedom and imagination and help that can come from being home all day . My mom as a stay at home mom was busy working at home she sold her knitted items downtown she planted and canned and was never stressed that I could see,I remember lovely summer days with a simple picnic at the lake etc. She was a working woman when she first adopted us and she admitted that at first it was a struggle to adjust. Her mom was a working mom and she hated the memories of the lonely house and was determined to stay home.I think so many lovely young women have had the worker money maker idea pounded into their heads from school and society that they react in anger at being told there actually is another way. I know school has pounded it into my daughters since about 3rd grade I constantly tell them different. You are a wonderful example Anna and even if some of these women react in anger to you possibly that means you are just stretching their beliefs and it is making them uncomfortable.Sometimes people argue when they really WANT to be convinced!!!Karen

angela said...

You are so gifted at critical thinking and getting your point across. I know there are times when a woman has to work... but most of the time they choose to for whatever reason. I live in the US and it never ceases to amaze me how people EXPECT you to be involved in everything. If you stay at home they think you have to be out doing something all the time. I love what you said about the home being the "real" and "organic" place. Alot of the interaction outside of the home is generic, so if that's what I'm missing out on I'm glad. I LOVE READING YOUR POSTS. Thanks for being so brave and honest.