Before I dive into the meat of this post, I feel like I need to write a disclaimer. For whatever reason, there is an abundance of judgment that comes along with being a mother. Judgment from society, from older and younger generations, and even worse, judgment from other moms. I think we’re all guilty of it, whether we voice it or not. Certainly everyone has judged that mom in the grocery store who can’t get her kid to stop screaming (until you become that mom). Or the parents at the restaurant who let their child run amuck (ok, I still judge those parents – unless you’re at Chucky Cheese, highchairs have straps for a reason, people.) All of that to say, I don’t write this post with judgment or as a criticism of moms who make a different choice for their families. I’m simply writing because it has been on my heart for a couple of weeks and perhaps someone else might find encouragement in this. That, and I hope Hadley can someday look back on this and know my heart and why I chose to stay home to raise her.
In addition to the disclaimer above, I also want to say that I am well aware that this is not a choice everyone can make. If you are a single mother, or need to work to provide for your family, I, in no way, mean for this to make you feel guilty or inadequate. I know that we are very blessed that I am able to stay home.
Whew. Ok, now that that’s out of the way…
I was at the doctor last week. My mom came up to help with Hadley, and we decided to just bring her stroller and let my mom push her around while I was in with the doctor. Well, Hadley is having a bit of separation anxiety, and my mom had only been here an hour or so before we had to leave for the doctor, so as soon as she realized I was gone, she started crying (Hadley, not my mom – ha). I had to give blood after the appointment, so once again, Hadley screamed the whole time I was gone. Since the lab was open to the waiting room, we could still hear her screaming. I apologized to the nurse and smiled. She looked at me (sans smile) and said “You a stay at home mom?” I said that yes, I was, and explained that Hadley was hitting the lovely separation anxiety phase (that almost all babies go through, right?). She replied (again sans smile) that I’d “better do something about that or else I won’t ever be able to go anywhere.”
Now, I know a lot of people hate getting any kind of advice from anyone when it comes to motherhood, but I think I’m an exception. I actually like hearing from other
people moms. I like hearing what worked for them and what didn’t. I do not, however, like being told that I’m doing a disservice to my child because I choose to stay at home with her. This isn’t the first comment of its kind, either. I’ve had comments like this from friends and strangers alike (albeit, not quite as blatant), and it just makes me wonder when becoming a mom became “not enough.” Why do people feel the need to save their old identity rather than relishing in their new identity? (sidenote: I’m sure that had I decided to go back to work, I’d have gotten just as many comments judging that decision.)
The choice to stay home was probably a little easier for me than some, seeing as how both my husband and I had moms who stayed home with us. It wasn’t a foreign concept to either of us, and was something that we both saw the benefits of growing up (even if we didn’t enjoy it then, we see it now.) I realize, too, how truly blessed I am to have a husband who is supportive of this – both in that he works hard at his job to provide for us, and also that he encourages me to be here.
That said, I believe that staying home with your children is a calling. One that God equips women for in a unique way – there’s a reason we are the ones who carry the baby and the ones who can provide nutrition for babies. I know it’s not for everyone to stay home, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Staying home is hard. The only thing easy about staying home is how easy it is to lose your mind most days! And I know if we are ever blessed with more kiddos it will be exponentially harder. But this is my lot and this is my blessing. And the bible promises that we will not remember our days because we are consumed with joy (Eccl. 5:20)
Over the past few weeks I’ve come across a few articles about this topic and I thought I’d share the links to those… If you don’t have time to read all of them, the first one is my favorite.
And for those of you who don’t want to read any of them, here are a couple of my favorite take-aways:
“Biggest reward for you or your family having you as a SAHM?
I think the biggest reward is the security and confidence it gives my children. They know I am around and have chosen to be with them over anything else! They know I used to teach school and gave it up to be with them! They also know that there is no other place I'd rather be. How reassuring would that be to know there is someone out there who loves you so much that she didn't want to miss part of your life?!”
“At the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice, and there is perhaps no occupation in the world so intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.”
All of this is really to say that this is my choice for my family, and I just simply don’t understand the point of judging other moms for their choices for their families. “Working” or “non-working,” I really feel like it’s important to support each other for our similarities rather than focusing on our differences.