I’ve been working on this post for a while now in my brain. I want to talk about the mommy wars that are happening around us. Why is there this constant battle between stay at home moms, work out of the home moms and anyone who falls in between those two roles? It drives me batty.
I have worked outside of the home and I have recently become a stay at home mom. There are things I liked about both. I can tell you that I am happier now being at home than I ever thought I would be but….there are days when I still miss working in the hospital as a nurse in L&D. But I have learned, for everything there is a season and now is not the season of my life where I need to be outside the home.
When my oldest son was born, I was a full time nursing student. I had him right before Thanksgiving break and went back to school the following Monday, I was fortunate enough that my mom could watch him and would bring him to the school in between classes so that I could feed him. When I graduated he was 6 months old and I went to work full time night shift right after I passed my boards. It wasn’t easy, but I enjoyed my job. It was perhaps made a bit easier for a time because he was watched by family members (I realize not everyone has this luxury), but when I had to put him in childcare…I felt torn. I hated leaving him crying in a room full of children. I hated tearing myself away, seeing pictures of him taken with a sadness in his eyes and worrying about what he was hearing from his providers. I walked in one day shortly after I dropped him off because I was called off due to low census. They weren’t expecting me…and I heard his teacher yelling at another little boy in the hallway. She was yelling at him because he couldn’t pull his overalls down fast enough and had an accident. I walked passed him with tears streaming down his face, wishing I could hold him in my arms and tell him it wasn’t his fault. I picked up my son and never took him back.
I have worked full time outside of the home for the last 10 years in one form or another until we moved this past summer. I never felt defensive about my decision, I never felt like I had to make others moms feel bad because they chose to stay home or work or whatever. The truth is, I envied moms who had the opportunity to stay home. I didn’t like leaving a feverish child in the arms of someone else (even if it was Daddy or Grandma).
When we lived in Pueblo and I was teaching nursing full time I started to feel convicted about working out of the home and being away from my children so much. Kerry was miserable, although he was (and is) a great dad, he got depressed about being home full time. He wanted to provide for his family. And I wanted to be home with my children. I remember driving to clinical rotations at 5:00 am crying and praying to God to find a way for him to work and me to be home. We weren’t financially in a place for that to happen and we felt hopeless. But God (my favorite two word ever), slowly showed us we could do it and I began to cut back at work and Kerry began to work outside out home. We worked hard to pay off a lot of debt in that time as well. God has always provided for our family. And in spring of this last year I quit my full time teaching job. It was freeing! Kerry didn’t have a job and didn’t have any prospects. But I was going to stay home. God has provided employment for him that provides for our family and I still teach part time online. It was an adjustment to be sure. It has been hard for me to make new connections in a new town without working outside the home. The first few weeks we were here I cried because I felt so lonely. There are days I still do. But the truth is, I am delighted to be here. I feel “right” for the first time in years. I keep my nursing license current because one day, I might decide to go back to the hospital…I do miss witnessing mothers bring their babies into the world. For now though, this…right here…right now is where I’m supposed to be and I’m thrilled.
Here’s my beef though…
What is with all the fighting? I read several blogs and participate in several online forums and there seems to be this constant war between Stay at home moms (SAHM) and work out of the home moms (WOHM). Someone on a blog will post something about her conviction to stay at home and she gets blasted for “wasting her talent” or being “old fashioned” or “judging” others. A WOHM will post a question asking about how to choose a childcare provider or about an issue with childcare and she gets blasted for not “being obedient” to God or ignoring the mandate to “love her children and her husband”. And it gets nasty. Words are not being spoken in love or kindness, instead they belittle and hurt and wound.
Both sides feel like they have Biblical support for their beliefs. SAHM point to Titus 2: 3-5 as the Biblical mandate to stay at home.
Titus 2: 3-5
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
WOHM point to Proverbs 31 to make their case.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
Proverbs 31: 24
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Back and forth the arrows fly between camps. The truth is this…we all want the best for our children. We all love them. We all do what we can and what we know to give them what we think they need. And…we’re not all at the same place in our walk, God is working differently in all of us. Sometimes we can’t see a way out of our current financial, work or life situation. Sometimes our choices (past and present) make it necessary to work. Sometimes we think we’re better people because we work or because we stay home. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re wrong.
What I hope, is that every parent will seriously consider what is best for their family and put thought into why they’re choosing what they are for their children and the results of what those choices are. I wouldn’t want either “side” to just do something because it’s what someone else tells them to do. It has to be a decision made, ideally because of a God given conviction and leading from the Holy Spirit for what is best for their family, not mine, not yours but their family.
One thing I’ve learned is that making others feel lousy for their choices doesn’t change their mind. It makes them dig in their heels and fight for their position…right or wrong. I can tell you it took me years to get to the point where I could quit my job. I praise God for women in my life who showed me that I could be just as valuable at home as I could in the workplace. I’m a huge positive reinforcement person, I love to hear “job well done” I worked hard to please those around me and to be the best at what I did. I can tell you that when you stay at home…”job well done” isn’t uttered often by the little children gathered at your feet. My husband had to learn why it was important to hear it from him and I had to learn that my rewards will come later.
The women who God used to guide me and show me where He wanted me didn’t tell me I was wrong, they didn’t hit me over the head with scripture or even come out and say it most times. They lived it. They lead by example, they shared advice with me and encouraged me when I was upset.
I drives me bonkers that there are even lines drawn in the sand. That moms feel like they have to attack each other. It’s hard enough worrying about your children and their well being. It’s hard enough questioning your own decisions about what food you’re feeding them, books their reading and friends they’re with, without having others question you too.
Here’s the deal…Do I think the best place for me to be is at home? Absolutely. Do I think children are better served when moms are there to take care of them, teach them and guide them? Yep. But am I going to berate a mother who works outside the home and sends her children to childcare? No. When she posts a question asking about childcare or balancing work and family, I will respond with what I would do or encourage her…because I’ve been there. My job is not to be the Holy Spirit and convict, my job is to speak words with love, show with my actions and let God do the convicting and convincing. I can be a resource, a sounding board, provide suggestions and tell other moms how we did it (it did take some sacrifices) but I will not, I refuse, to participate in the mommy war.
Proverbs 31: 26
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.