Tuesday, March 20, 2012

For stay-at-home mothers

Here is a comment I received recently:

"I don't find changing diapers and washing my countertops meaningful, no matter how much I meditate and wish I did. 

There are other aspects of life young women can enjoy, other than child rearing. They can read books, they can discuss politics, they can travel, tney can learn, they can use their artistic talents, or medicinal talents. 

Some people are happy staying home and never seeing the world outside their four walls. Others need more space. This blog does not allow for that space and assumes everyone should be the same."

Here is my reply, with some additions:

I could never assume everyone should be the same, because I believe everyone was created unique, with his/her own gifts and possibilities.

Having said this, most of us will marry and have children, those children will need to be cared for, and I do believe it is best for the vast majority of children to be cared for by their mothers. And this, of course, in most cases entails establishing an orderly routine and a peaceful home, with a mother in it. 

As a Jew, I learn that everything we do matters, and that thought and intention can make the greatest difference in the simplest acts. Taking care of one's home can and should be meaningful, not because we're such fans of cleaning per se, but because we are making a daily effort to make our homes pleasant, combatting filth, dust, crumbs and spills. 

Having said this, washing countertops is in no way in the same league as changing diapers. Changing diapers is part of caring for living, thinking, unique human beings. Countertops don't care if they are spotless clean, but children do care if their diapers are changed with a smile, a song, and a kiss on the tummy. 

Being stay-at-home mom does not mean never setting foot outside the house. I think the average office worker is cooped up far more than a stay-at-home mom who gets to hang her laundry in the warm sun, gather eggs from her own chickens, and take her children for long walks every day. Also, certainly, women can and should explore their talents - which in many cases can actually be more easily done by stay-at-home wives and mothers. 

I realize that the ideal is not always possible; however, I do believe it is ideal for young children to have a mother at home. Some have to work to survive. Most working women have jobs, not careers aimed at helping them to develop their talents and blossom as persons. 


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. When I worked I was enclosed in a building from often 5:30 am to 3:30 or later pm. which in the winter months meant never seeing daylight . I was told what needed to be done and I had to do that every day, Every minute of every day that wasn't on a 15 minute break or 30 minute lunch . I made excellent money, It was a clean and quiet job,My countertops still needed to be wiped down and laundry done and floors swept when I got home and if I'd had a baby then diapers would still have needed to be changed. Unless a woman has a very unusual job the average working woman is much more confined , and then has a full job ahead of her at home which the husband may help with or there is tension then in the marraige. The arguement falls short because even if she never has children and rents a tiny apartment she must still be caring for her self and find all her worth in her job, paycheck , or other friends who will make no demands on her.

Kelly said...

You are so right. I am a stay-at-home mom. I do clean and care for my kids (and others). I also write and am a published author, and I do photography. If I were cooped up in an office, I wouldn't have time do all that I do. And I know. I worked in an office environment for many years before having my kids. It's frustrating how much some people look down on stay-at-home moms, as if we don't do more than cook, clean, and change diapers!

THE Princess Bombshell* said...

I LOVE my job as a stay-at-home wife and mother... Even though I don't necessarily STAY AT home all the time. :) I mean who wouldn't LOVE a job that duties include goin' to the beach, bowling, parks, art shows, museums, symphonies, etc?! I don't know how any woman complains about being bored or cooped up... There's always so much creativity to explore inside and outside the home!

Carrie @ 20-Something Homemaker said...

Right on! I love your perspective on this. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a sweet 8 week old baby girl and I'm so blessed to have a husband that provides financially so I can take care of our daughter. It's a crazy ride, but I'm learning so much and I love it more than I knew possible!

Kate said...

Well said! And it's very true about the job situation. No matter what job you have you really are tied down to a certain location and a certain process of duties no matter how you look at it. Being a SAHM is way more flexible. I work FT but on the days I am off and home with my kid, I am free as a bird! And yep... still gotta wipe those countertops no matter what you do... and it takes all of 5 minutes, not worth trying to meditate about!

harper said...

Thank you for this post.

I think that reading and studying (news, politics, history, art, medicine, philosophy--whatever makes you tick) are very important for every housewife. They help keep conversation alive in your marriage and make you a richer resource for your children.

When my husband comes home from work, he often has not had the opportunity to think of anything other than work all day, and he's not ready to hear about my day, but a little diverting conversation about a common interest really helps both of us relax and reinforces our relationship. A lot of couples who divorce in the US do so once the kids are out of the house, because they have forgotten how to be a couple. I don't want that for my family. Moreover, many husbands want their wives to be able to contribute to decision-making processes, meaning their wives need to keep themselves well enough aware of the rest of the world to participate well in such conversations.

As for getting out of the house, historically, it was the housewives who were the lifeblood of charitable organizations and community centers. Taking care of one's children and keeping the home in good working order has to take precedence, but using talents outside the home to hold community together and benefit the needy is an important part of the role of wife and mother.

A housewife isn't necessarily tethered to her kitchen counter or changing table. She must prioritize her home and children at the top of the list, but she can contribute far beyond that. What is difficult for us to remember is simply that a woman does not need to make money to use her talents and interests.

Amanda said...

Most of the other comments have already nailed it on the head, but I just want to ad that perhaps the person who initiated the comment in your post that you are responding to either 1) has never been in a SAHM roll, or 2) she did and was depressed or not fully utilizing their skills and talents. I have had very many "important" jobs (run a successful small business, realtor for high end homes, worked for a large company that did federal-sized environmental clean-up projects, etc.) and NONE have been more interesting, stimulating or given me more free time than being a homeschooling, stay-at-home-mom. None was more challenging either! lol All I can do is shake my head in wonder at those who feel differently.

Heather said...

I love being a stay at home mom. Things just would not get done, if I worked. I have 3 children. Although recently I am began to feel terriablw about myself. My husband took on a second job. His mother who lives a far distant from us, did not approve of my husband taking on another job. I personally do not think it should be any of her business. She decided to write me a terrible E-mail. Telling me I was lazy, being a stay at home mom. That she worked when her son was small. Her E-mail made me feel so worthless. She calked me all kinds of names. It really has bothered me, that someone could be so cruel.I work very hard washing and folding clothes, cleaning, and making sure my children are taking care of it. I am stillunsure how someone could be little someone in such a way. When My home and children are so well taking care of. Just because I don't work outside the home.

Tzipporah said...

I'll be truthful: I'm a SAHM and I don't really "love" it. It doesn't come natural to me (though of course there are parts I certainly enjoy). I don't love gardening with my kids, I don't like doing homeschooling with them, I don't like a lot of things... but I do it b/c it's important. And I try to like it as much as I can. I figure if I can't love it naturally, I can try my best to make the best of a good thing. My kids I love! It's just some of the things about parenting that fulfill others don't do that for me, and after 12 yr of parenting I still have to find a way to not feel bad about that.

I write articles, read, and do a handful of other things to fulfill my own "needs" so I can be a better mom and a better me.

I do think it's often overlooked that motherhood and "mothering" don't come easily to some as to others. It doesn't make them lesser than people who enjoy homemaking. And it irritates me when someone who does love home making assumes that those who don't, don't do it "right" or "use their natural abilities" etc.

Mothering is about more than staying home. It's more than just about enjoying hew recipes. It's about balancing who you naturally are as a person with what your children need from you as a Mom. Anyone who works to find a way to do that is a good Mom, regardless of the title of SAHM or WAHM or any other meaningless title.

Moms come in a wide variety and it would do us all some good to stop judging what others should and should not be doing. That includes assuming about what the "best" way to parent should be.

FWIW I really enjoy your blog. I just think you're understandably naive on what it is to be a different sort of mom, because well, this is who you are. And who you are really works for you and your family. And sometimes it is very hard to think of what it might be to be in someone else's shoes, even when we think we get it.