When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Mom, Part 2
If you missed part 1 of this 2 part article, click here.
Not long ago, my husband, Gregg, and I were just chit chatting about life in general. At some point in the conversation, he said to me, “What are you going to do when both of the boys are in school?”
I kind of paused, then stuttered. “Uhhh, what do you mean?”
He said, “You know. What do you plan to do?”
When I was pregnant with our son, Scott, I don’t think we discussed the fact that I would quit my job. I think it was just something that was so understood that it didn’t require discussion. The question threw me off guard because, quite honestly, I didn’t plan to get a job outside of the home. But I worried that Gregg was suggesting that’s what I would have to do.
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I’m a writer. For years I’ve been waiting for the day my children would all be in school so that I could write full time. So, I said, “I’m going to write.”
“Ah,” Gregg said with a smile. “I know you’re looking forward to that.”
Because we’d never discussed it, he didn’t know what I wanted to do any more than I knew what he expected me to do. He said he didn’t know if I wanted to go to school, ring up groceries at a local store, get back into my business suits and heels – he honestly didn’t know. His question was a sincere, “What are you plans?” question.
My reaction to the question affirmed one thing. A normal, out of the house, full-time job wasn’t on my list of wants or dreams for my future.
In continuing our discussion of Vicki Courtney’s 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter, we continue the conversation of Chapter 16, “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Mom.” For Part I, click here.
Alistair Begg did a series of sermons on the New Testament book of Titus. Within that series, he discussed The Biblical Role of Women. He did something I’ve never really seen done with such black and whiteness, and that is put the responsibility on the number of households that have working wives/mothers on the shoulders of the husband. He said too many husbands expect their wives to work and to share the financial burden of the family, something for which he feels that the husband must take responsibility without exception.
I know a woman who, when she was on maternity leave after giving birth to her son, was out of gas money. Her husband wouldn’t give her gas money. He left her to scrape change together to get gas, and told her she should have budgeted her income better in preparation for maternity leave.
Vicki Courtney alluded to a husband who resented his wife’s determination to stay home from work after the birth of their child, even though he had a professional job with a high income. Their standard of living depended on both incomes, not just his, and he had to work extra hours and longer days just to make up for her lack of income.
In both of those situations, the husband is requiring the wife to work, or resenting the fact that she isn’t working. Apparently, that’s an all-too-common situation. Begg laid the burden of it on the husbands’ shoulders, though, and told them to basically man up and make it possible for their wives to be home.
It’s not always financially feasible for the wife to quit her job. Not every man working has an income that would support a family. Unfortunately, we’re in a dual-income society, and a lot of times it takes two incomes. A woman shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for working to keep her family out of poverty. To do so is not Biblically substantiated and, as far as I’m concerned, is sinful judgment.
So much of our culture focuses on acquiring things. We have a capitalistic financial system, and in order for capitalism to work, there must be consumers. We buy buy buy. And we want more more more. Bigger houses, nicer cars, the right labels on clothes and shoes, the right designer mark on purses, the perfect family vacation to some uber expensive theme park.
I guess what families need to look at is — when is enough enough? They need to look at why the wife/mother in the family is working. Because, just like I said in Part I, a reasonable person isn’t going to say that dropping a child off for 8-10 hours a day with another caregiver is better for that child, that parent, or the home life in general. So, if that’s the case, then what is motivating the wife/mother to work in the first place?
Is it because there’s a calling to work, like we discussed in Part I? Who is anyone else to say to anyone that they aren’t fulfilling God’s purpose in their life by working?
Is it because there’s a financial need for work? Does the husband’s income just not make it these days? Would quitting her job force her family below poverty lines?
Is it because the husband simply expects it and requires it?
Is it because the pursuit of things is important? Is an extra car payment or Coach purse worth the time spent away from family?
There can’t be just a blanket “women working is wrong” statement made. Missionary wives work right along side their husbands, and their work is lauded by the same women who look down their noses at the waitress in the Cracker Barrel who is worried about the amount of rain affecting her construction worker husband’s hours that week.
What needs to happen is that we need to break away from a societal need for bigger, better, name brand, expensive THINGS and focus instead on what is important. We need to teach our daughters (and sons, but this book focuses on the daughters) that the pursuit of things will be our downfall. 1 Timothy 6:7-10 says:
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
We need to train them to be more heavenly minded than earthly possession minded. To worry less about things and more about how they can help those in need, in pain, in desperation, or simply hungry.
I believe it’s important to encourage our daughters to at least try to work with their husbands to develop a plan and finance a way to consider not working a job outside of the home when they have children. However, if they feel God’s calling on their life is to work, then we should encourage that as well.
Simply put, we need to train them to have an open line of communication with God, and, when they’re adults, trust that He’ll guide them in the way that they should go. We need to do that in a way without making them feel that a decision they would make regarding their career path or job history would be judged harshly and unnecessarily by us as their parents.
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I became a homemaker 16 years ago. The decision itself was easy as bringing my (then) two children to daycare each day broke my heart AND the job that I had loved for years just wasn’t the same. The financial aspect has been a struggle almost every year since. When I get worried, I try to remember the passage in Matthew (6:25-34) that reminds us that God will provide what we need if we follow God’s will. Looking backward, I can see that God has been more than faithful.
Interesting way to handle the second half of this. I don’t completely disagree. I do think that for many families, the only way a woman can make the decision to quit work is if her husband believes that is best for their family. Because without that support, there will be a constant struggle and resentment born from the decision. If one partner in the marriage is not willing to make the sacrifices necessary (because it really does require sacrifices by both parents), it can be more harmful to the marriage than helpful.
I also think that women who take on this role have a duty and obligation to their husband, beyond just being the primary caregiver to their children. I have a friend who is able to be a stay-at-home mom. And I use that term with full knowledge of your dislike of the term in favor of the term homemaker because she is not a homemaker. She is a mom who doesn’t work outside of the home. She expects her husband to work two jobs to support their family and then is constantly angry with him because he doesn’t help around the house (e.g. do his own laundry, cook dinner, get up with their children so she can sleep, etc.) It is so heartwrenching to hear, because I know the sacrifices HE is making so that she can be at home.
I will tentatively advocate that extended family is possibly as good as having a stay at home parent. But, my advocacy of that position is not whole-hearted because I wish that I wasn’t forced into that option. It is certainly the lesser of many evils. I think that my kids thrive from the extreme love and support they get from their grandparents and aunt/uncle. I know that me + extended family is a much better situation for them than me + bad parent. But I don’t know if I would be okay with the set up if I had the option of a traditional marriage/family. Hopefully someday I will be able to flush this thought out by seeing the third (imagined preferred) option of a supportive husband?
I do wish that you would spend some time with the thoughts that led you to ask the two original surveys about the young girls getting married and not going to college. Because I don’t think that your opinion on this topic, so far, has answered either of those questions. Why shouldn’t a young girl go to college, even if her goal in life is to become a mom? A good liberal arts education, in my opinion, is simply something that every adult should have at a bare-minimum.