Where is a Woman’s Place?

Where is a Woman’s Place?

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It was always my plan to stay home with the children.  From early in our dating relationship, I made it clear to my now-husband, Mike, that I did not want to have children until we were financially prepared for me to stay home.  After being married about five years, we had saved up enough of a bumper for me to comfortably quit working for at least a year.  After that, I hoped to find some kind of work at home income.  Our beautiful daughter was born and I was beyond thrilled to hold her, feed her, and tote her around town in my Moby. Moby After about three months, I grew restless.  I started a blog.  I opened a home day care.  I picked up more hours working as Children’s Ministry director at my church. Then, I started getting really tired.  I wondered why I was so absurdly busy and why I couldn’t be the type of homemaker I wanted to be.  Still, I was staying home, so that put me where a woman belongs, right? Then we had another baby and things got really crazy.  I resolved to get up earlier (you can read how that turned out here) and be more committed to making the house run smoothly.   I cut back on my day care hours and found myself a little more relaxed.   I had a little free time, so I decided to start making all my food from scratch and sewing my own curtains. Curtains I was excited about finally “getting things right” at home, but I found my world growing smaller and smaller.  I still had my friends at church, but beyond that, most of my conversations involved puppetting around a small plastic figure while I talked. Noah KFC (5) I picked up a book at the library entitled Bringing up Bebe.  A good friend had recommended it to me, so I was anxious to glean whatever parenting wisdom it might dispense.   Basically, the book is about the differences between American and French parenting and what we can learn from the French when it comes to raising children.

While I can’t stand behind all the ideals of French parenting (neither could Druckerman, the author), something that really struck a cord with me was the concept of cadre.  Cadre is working to establish a balance in your life and not letting any one area, even motherhood overwhelm the rest.   Druckerman says it best:

For some American moms, there’s something morally righteous about committing to motherhood at the expense of everything else, even their bodies….It seems selfish to take time away from their babies to tend to their fat or even talk to much about it (125).  French mothers aren’t just different because they are thin.  French moms get back their pre-baby identities, too.  For starters, they seem more physically separate from their children.  I’ve never seen a French mother climb a jungle gym, go down a slide with her child, or sit on a seesaw — all regular sights back in the United States.   In American homes, every room in the house is liable to be overrun with toys.  I’m also struck by the nearly universal assumption that even good mothers aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there’s no reason to feel bad about that.  I frequently hear American stay-at-home mothers say they never use babysitters because they consider all child care to be their job. In France, the dominant social messsage is that while being a parent is very importaant, it shouldn’t subsume one’s other roles.  Mothers shouldn’t become “enslaved” to their children (130).

There’s more to this thought, of course, but I think Druckerman speaks some truth when she expresses that motherhood becomes an all consuming role in America, especially for stay-at-home mothers.  Is this good?  Do children benefit from such exclusive attention or do they just grow up to be entitled and spoiled, incapable of finding their own entertainement ?

Our Kids Bored For Life?   Photo Credit: Flickr: Stephen Downes

I just wonder, where did the obsession with staying home come from? Especially among Christian circles, it seems you’re not truly a good parent unless the woman is staying home.  Is this actually biblical?  Even the Proverbs 31 woman (often heralded as the ideal woman) seems to work outside the home: she buys and manages vineyards, she makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes (verses 14 and 24).  I notice that she also has servants.  I bet servants would really help my housekeeping skills. I think we lift up the the old-time mother as something to be emulated.  She stayed home with her kids.  However, she was also busy.  She made her clothes for her family, cooked and baked, and often grew her own vegetables.  She was home, but she wasn’t playing with the kids all day. Perhaps things have gotten a bit out of balance.  Today, we have so many conveniences that we don’t really need to spend much time “making a home”. So, we’ve turned the stay-at-home mom position into “run-around-town-and-provide-enriching-experiences”. Is this good? What is the primary motivation for staying home? To make sure the kids are safe and well cared for? To develop the type of character that is important to your family? To enjoy the time together?

What About You? 

What do you chose to do with your time? Do you work outside the home?  Do you stay home with the kids? What’s the motivation?  What’s the outcome? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Comments

  1. Hey Tracy, It sounds like a wonderful system. To be honest, I do kind of wish for that type of arrangement, but our budget isn’t quite there yet (darn school loans!) Maybe someday soon!

  2. “I bet servants would really help my housekeeping skills.” Haha! Mine too!!! I really liked that! I’m a stay-at-home mom. My motivation originally was just wanting to be the one to care for my baby and to train him up, so to speak. As my firstborn child grew, my motivation became my calling to homeschool. We now have 2 boys and I have a full-time job teaching 8th grade AND 1st grade! Crazy. Ultimately, each and every family has to decide what’s best for their family and their situation. But as long as the kids are loved and well-cared for, I for one will not criticize another mom’s choice whether she wants (or needs) to work outside the home or work from home or be a stay at home mommy! 🙂
    Stephanie recently posted..Reasons a non-knitter should NOT take up knitting

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie. We have really struggled with the homeschool thing. Part of the reason I’m working at home right now is so that we can pay off all the school loans and I can be totally available if we DO decide to homeschool. As it stands now, I’m thinking I’m going to do Kindergarten and 1st grade, but send them to school after that. We’ve also considered cyber school. Sometimes I think it would be nice for them to navigate the world a bit by themselves, but then I think about the things the “world” is teaching and I’m not so sure. It’s a struggle! I’m glad things are working out for you guys!

  4. Being a stay at home mom can be hard in the beginning, but I honestly cannot express how much i love and enjoy it. I feel good knowing I am the caretaker of my kids and they will grow up under my shadow and my teachings. Off course, i work as a Part time Baker and my husband supports me. Without a balance nothing is possible. 🙂
    Tamanna recently posted..10 Natural Home Remedies for Common Cold & Flu !

  5. Tamanna,
    I agree, I really enjoy my time home with the kids. Especially when they are outside, running through the sprinkler or completely engaged in pretend play. There’s something so picturesque about it all. I have thought about doing some baking as a business. My maiden name was “Baker”, so I always joke that I have baking in my blood. I do enjoy it though. How is your business doing?

    Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I am a SAHM of 3 boys. My mother stayed home with me and did the bookkeeping for my dad’s business. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer and a stay-at-home mom. Then in my college public speaking course, I focused on the topic of working mothers. In the research I did, it was proved time and time again that the income a mom makes (the 2nd income) while paying for childcare is extremely minimal, especially with more than one child. Plus, I have always felt there is just “something different” about kids who have a parent staying home with them.

    So now that I have been a mom for almost 5 years, I would have to say that for me, the importance of staying home with my boys is to grow their character and instill the morals we deem valuable in our children. That being said, though, I very much agree that motherhood should not rule one’s life. I just wrote a similar post “Finding Balance: a juggling act” that talks about the importance of balancing being a wife, a mother, and an individual.

    Great post, great research, great insight! Very thought provoking!
    Makeovers & Motherhood recently posted..choosing a good book

  7. Thanks so much for stopping by! I agree with you — the income I would make would be so minimum once child care expenses (and wardrobe) were factor in. And I really do enjoy “making a home” by cooking, cleaning, and decorating. I just hope I’m also doing a good job instilling the morals and values that we hold important. Sometimes it seems like that aspect is so hard to measure. I will check out your post and thank yo ufor stopping by!

  8. While my husband and I haven’t planned for kids, I think IF we somehow became parents, I would want to stay home with them. I guess it’s probably a trust thing. If needed, mom could babysit but I’d want to make sure I had a big part of their development.
    Toia B. recently posted..Hair Tip Tuesday: Scalp Massages to Promote Healthy Hair Growth

  9. Hey Toia,
    Thanks for stopping by! I agree, it’s a trust issue with me too. I used to work in a day care facility, and even though there were some really sweet people there, not all of them were nice. Plus, I do find that it’s so rewarding being part of the growing process.

  10. This is a teachable moment. I didn’t know that French mothers had that type of philosophy. I don’t make enough time for myself. I wear makeup less and less. I used to wonder what yoga pants were when people talked about them. Then I realized I was wearing them all the time already. Thank for sharing this.
    Kimberly H. Smith recently posted..Ooh! That’s My (Traffic) Jam

  11. Thanks so much for your comment, Kimberly. It was a really fascinating book and made me really wrestle with some of my parenting practices. I checked out your website — I’m hoping to be a full time freelance writer someday soon too, but I still have little ones in the house, so right now, I’m embracing “the in-between” (as Jeff Goins calls it). Thanks for stopping by!

  12. My wife stayed at home for many years with our four children (ages: 24, 18. 17, 14). There are many scriptures that encourage this, but I think what is lacking might be found in Titus 2: Older women… train the young women to love their husbands and children. Many stay at home moms are pioneers! They are figuring this out, on their own. I’m confident they would appreciate a mentor, but many of them don’t have experienced stay at home moms to help.

    A few ideas…
    Try to meet with other stay at home moms and team up. Sometimes the best “babysitters” are getting your kids involved with other kids.
    Go out with your spouse, regularly without the kids. Walking around the neighborhood is free.
    Spend time alone, away from the kids, house, spouse, and electronics. Sitting on a park bench is free.
    Exercise! It creates energy, burns off stress, and counters the blues.

  13. Thanks so much for stopping in, Jim, and sharing your thoughts. I do think you’re right, it’s the Titus 2 that is missing. Even in my own family, I know my older sister and mother would be happy to lend their wisdom, but our schedules never seem to line up — it seems everyone is too busy to really mentor in the Titus 2 way. we don’t really “do life together” anymore.

    Thanks for the tips — I am trying to soak up as much outdoor time as I can before the winter sets in!

  14. Thanks for the thoughts! My primary motivation is to spend as much time with and enjoy my kids as much as I can – very few things matter in the end, but family relationships is at the top of the list.
    Bethany recently posted..Best Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

  15. I think there are pros and cons to this situation. Children probably DO benefit from the exclusive attention. However, I have also seen the bad side – where kids grow up having that entitled, spoiled attitude.
    To the best of my knowledge, the “stay at home” mother comes from when the females would be closer to home, picking fruit and such, while the males would tend the fields and livestock all day. In terms of Christian beliefs, I would imagine this shows up in the Bible. But so much of the Bible has been misconstrued and exaggerated, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why you get the feeling that they hold such beliefs.
    I know that personally, my primary motivation for staying home (once I have kids) will be due to my natural instincts of WANTING to do so. I feel that I can only fully trust myself and my husband when it comes to ensuring that my kids will be safe, well cared for, and brought up right. I also want to enjoy the time with my future kids, and watch them grow. Obviously, I don’t know what the future holds. But I would be happy to care for my kids at home – or to allow my husband to do so. I think it is all dependent on each family’s personal situation.

    ♥emma
    itsemmaelise.com

  16. Thanks so much for stopping in, Emma and weighing in on the issue. I have to admit, I am still up in the air about the whole thing, but I agree with you — I wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone else watching and caring for my kids all day everyday.. there’s just something about being with your parents. I do love to be home, and I sometimes wonder if my desire to do more is more financially motivated… to pay off school loans and be in a “better place”… whatever that means! Anyway, thanks for your comment!

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