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the big debate.

March 15, 2010

A serious post.  They are few and far between here aren’t they?  But after about 6 months of gathering the opinions of others, reading countless articles, blog posts, forum remarks and being asked a trillion questions myself since getting pregnant, I just couldn’t NOT at least mention it here.  In my own space.  Where I am free to say…well….whatever I want.

The topic du jour:  The stay at home mom vs. the working mom.

I’m listening intently as the sound of hundreds of mothers worldwide allow their blood to boil.  It’s a touchy subject.  One I had no idea existed until Chris and I began discussing the idea of starting a family.  So here is our thought process of the situation and how it is has affected my opinion of this incredibly ridiculous argument.

First of all, I am a college educated woman who loves her job and gets up every morning NOT at all dreading the time I will spend in my office all day.  I have the opportunity to be employed in an industry that works tirelessly to improve the financial well being of the average every day working individual.  I am given freedom to be creative, take charge, try new things and most importantly, express opinions even when they may not always be right.  I earn an honest wage, and I realize that by staying in this industry, in this office, I’ll never make the kind of money that I could by working for an organization that doesn’t allow me those freedoms.  Whereas my husband is working to be a college educated man.  He is employed for an organization that also works tireless to provide love and assistance to the every day average person in St. Charles, MO as well as the people of our church.  For the first time since I have known him, I finally get to see him love and own what he does.  He could be earning more money by selling shoes.  Yes.  He could be earning more money by working another part time job. Yes.  But this is what he has been called to right now.  To have the flexibility to attend class and be available for his true love (outside of this family), his calling to work for the church.

So that all being said, our options were and are, very few.  We knew that God was telling us that the path He had set us on concerning our careers, was not a separate path that was to keep us from being parents.

Leading up to the months before we found out we were pregnant I began imploring some wise women on why they had decided to either stay home or to take on the role of working mother.  Their responses, were at times…..frustrating.  Few were in jobs leading up to the baby’s birth that they loved or appreciated.  Few were even on the career track.  Which of course, made it difficult for me to make a fair comparison as I am very much on a career path.  But even with that explanation, it was rare for me not to get the response of “Yes but all of that will change when you have kids.  Once you hold them you’ll change your mind about every going back to work again.”

So I left it up in the air.  For several reasons.  One, because we had no idea how long it would take for us to get pregnant.  After a surgery months before our wedding left me with only one real functioning ovary and what I was told was a tilted uterus, we were told the process of conception may be a rather long one.  And two, well because we didn’t really have an option to that would allow me to stay home or not, so what is the real point behind gathering data that will in the end, serve me in no real way?

Then we found out we were pregnant.  Two months later.  In my opinion, a total miracle.  But, because our close circle of friends are now completely comprised of families that all have a stay at home parent, I suddenly felt a very strange and unfamiliar feeling of dread.  I in no way wanted anyone to know that I would be the only mom, in our entire church community, that would be not only working full time, but placing my child in the care of a paid childcare provider.  It was hormones, but it was more than that.  It was heavy shame.  I suddenly thought that we would be judged for not waiting and putting ourselves, and our children in a position where they could have the best care possible.

And then it got worse.

I was in a bible study with a group of friends.  Which in most cases always builds me up and makes me feel more stabilized than when I am NOT doing a bible study with a group of friends.  But, as fate would have it, the week I found out I was pregnant, and being buried in guilt, shame and anxiety, the topic of the week was unfortunately, the sins of being a working mother.

I know right?  To be fair, as I mentioned before, I will be the only full time working mother at our church who will utilize the service of childcare.  So the ideas being presented in this book were, well to them, encouraging.  Sadly for me, it only sent me deeper into a pit of despair.  I was terrified to tell Chris about was happening to me emotionally.  He at that point was the only one who knew I was pregnant, and the only one to be excited with at that point, so to tell him how terrified and hurt I was, well it wasn’t gonna happen.  So, in my normal fashion, I became pretty defensive.  When the group met to discuss the topics of the book that week, I shouldn’t have gone.  Lord knows I was sick enough, I could have easily backed out.  But I went anyways.  And although I felt I made good points in the conversation when the author was saying such things as “working mothers breed an environment that doesn’t allow joy for their family”.  Of course I was the only woman in the room making any points on the side of THAT’S RIDICULOUS!  So it was a little frustrating for me, but then something was said that silenced me.  For days.  A friend, whom I love dearly, and in no way offended me personally, said the statement “If I were in a position where I couldn’t stay home, I would take that as a sign from God that I wasn’t ready to be a mother”.

Yowza.  Now I wasn’t only going to be robbing joy from my family, but I suddenly realized that the world would see me as someone who was ill-equipped to be a mother.  Someone who had no right to be one.  Someone who would make many more mistakes than the mother who was able to change every diaper and feed every meal and monitor every word.

Then I was done for.  For at least a few weeks.  And sick.  OH so so sick.  Sick and tired and emotionally a bit worn.  I was so terrified I would begin to resent our family for not being as prepared as the other families I knew.  The same ones I knew would judge us.

And then I woke up.

Smelled the coffee.

Threw up.

And felt much better.

Because I know the truth.  The truth being this:

My family will have joy, because it will be centered around the love of Christ.  My job, or my lack of job, will be a blessing.  No book or author or preconceived idea of who may or may not judge me will keep me from the joy I have been given. It would be easy for me to believe every woman on the forums who say such things as “DON’T START A FAMILY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TAKE CARE OF IT”.  Because that sounds right.  But I know the truth now.

Which is very plainly, I am not the One in control.  I have been given a task.  A calling.  A journey.  My job is now harder.  I have been set forth to not only provide financially for my family, continue doing a good job at work, but also raise a family that knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that their joy does not lie in me, but the One who created them.

I have a responsibility to remain faithful.  To keep praising Him.  To keep my joy.  So that He may have the glory.  And so that ignorant authors and women on the internet can see in every circumstance, He commands our attention.  Not just in the perfect situation of being a stay at home mom.  Or having money to pay the rent.  Or in having two parents in the home.

In fact I feel like through this I’ve really had my eyes open to the realities of what guilt the single moms out there who are just trying to make it must carry. How often they must feel guilt and shame from the mothers who so often look as if they have it all together.  And who make silly remarks concerning what joy they are allowed to expect for their families.

So this may be the first of some instances when I come here to discuss the hurdles and struggles of being a christian, full time working mom.  Because go ahead and google it people.  There is no real place for us out there.  Unless you want to be condemned.  Or filled with guilt.  So maybe I’ll just mention it here sometimes.  To encourage.  To express.  And people will still have their condemnations.

And that’s okay too.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicole Sneed permalink
    March 15, 2010 10:39 am

    I, personally, feel that it is a very close-minded view to believe that when a woman has a child, her only place is in the home. I know that most mothers would give anything to stay home with their children for at least the first few years. I know that my mother regrets that she had to work when my sister and I were young due to financial reasons and we spent a lot of our younger years with my grandmother, my father, or in pre-school. There are plenty of mothers like you, who love their jobs and don’t want to give them up, or can’t because they need the income. I see NOTHING wrong with that. Although my mother may not have been around as much as I would’ve liked when I was a kid, I don’t believe that I grew up any worse because of it. She taught me what it was to be a hard-working individual and showed me that women can be the breadwinners and take care of their children. She gave me confidence in myself as a female and in my ability to take care of myself, as well as a family someday. The time I spent apart from my parents gave me independence and the chance to be a free-thinker. In a perfect world, BOTH parents would be at home to mold their children into perfect people. But that’s not possible. And there are lots and lots of children and adults out there who grew up with mothers who stayed home, and they are just as dysfunctional as the ones who didn’t have that luxury. I think you are right on track with your idea that it’s more about HOW you raise your child and the example you set for them than how many hours you spend with them. I know some people will disagree with me, particularly stay-at-home moms, but I’ve seen firsthand that some who disapprove the most of working mothers are actually jealous of them. I’ve known mothers who stayed home with their children because that’s what they ‘should’ do, and they were miserable being at home all day with little mental stimulation or interaction with the adult world. There is no set plan that will work for every family, and you should not feel excessive guilt if you cannot stay home all day, as long as you show your child how much you love them and cherish them when you are with them.

    This is just my humble opinion, feel free to disregard everything I said if you would like. =)

    • March 15, 2010 2:32 pm

      Hey girl.

      Just a few comments on what you wrote. Thanks first of all for commmenting. I always appreciate your input. Secondly, I agree with a lot of what you said. One thing I do want to clear up though is that I was at no point ever directly offended by one person who said anything directly to me about their own convictions. Because that’s what they are. Some women really enjoy staying at home, and not only that, believe that their calling in ilfe is to be a stay at home mom. I personally stand behind them 100%. I agree that a family pulled together by the presence and love of the parents has a much better chance of experiencing healthy relationship. I would never ever argue someone elses convictions. Ever.

      Point Blank.

      The point of me quoting some of what I dealt with and the convictions of these other women, was basicaly that I let it dictate how I FELT ABOUT IT. I had no reason to believe that their convictions should dictate my own feelings towards being a mother. Obviously Chris and I have been brought to the place we have been brought to for a reason. I won’t argue why it is, or why I am doing the things I am doing.

      I love the women at my church. With all my heart. I think they are all amazing mothers. They leave big shoes to fill. I let my own self critisim tell me that I couldn’t live up to it or that they would be judging me. And the point of this blog wasn’t to express anger to them, but instead to show how easy it is to create struggle where there is none simply out of a tendency to watch others and find self critisms.

      I however wholeheartedly disagree with you when you say they sometimes express judgements because they are jealous. I think sometimes it’s easy for stay at home moms to become very defensive in their decision because many working women feel STAHM’s are non contributing and lazy. So when they explain just how important their jobs are….they come off as preachy when they are simply exprssing the same way I am today.

      I still love them. I still see their worth. I pray I do just as good a job, even when I’m getting paid to be outside the home.

      Hope that clears a few things up.

  2. Nicole Sneed permalink
    March 16, 2010 2:12 pm

    I totally get what you’re saying. I just didn’t want you to feel guilty for your decision or that you’re not as good of a mother if you don’t stay home. I didn’t get the sense that you were angry with whoever for what they said, but it did sound like you were being hard on yourself when you shouldn’t be. 🙂 And I didn’t mean that all STAHM’s are jealous…I’ve just known a few in my own life who would make comments about the mothers who work and make it sound like they weren’t being good enough mothers, but then start complaining about how they were never able to get out of the house, or didn’t have time for themeselves, or couldn’t remember what it was like to have an adult conversation, etc, and came across as being very jealous of the mothers who were able to get the “break” from their home and/or children to go to work. I think the decision to stay home is a huge one, and the women who do it definitely have their hands full. I by no means think they are lazy…from what I can see, taking care of kids is a full-time job. I admire the women who do it, because I’m not sure if I could. I guess what bothered me was the book that you discussed and the topic “sins of the working mother”…I think that alone would make any working mother feel like dirt! And I definitely don’t want you to feel that way.

    • March 16, 2010 10:18 pm

      And that’s why I love your perspective 🙂 You appreciate truth and honesty. Thanks for being a great voice on this matter with me. Of over 300 separate hits to this specific post yesterday, you were the only one brave enough to tackle it.

      Thanks for that Nic.

  3. Nicole Sneed permalink
    March 18, 2010 9:38 am

    You’re welcome. I’m nothing, if not honest! lol Sometimes it gets me in trouble, but I have to be true to me, ya know? 🙂

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