Don’t have to measure up

Posted By on May 29, 2010

I sometimes hear stay-at-home mothers proudly saying that they “work just as hard as women who also have a job outside the home” or that “their days are as packed as anyone’s” and they have no time or space to breathe.

I believe, however, that the point of our staying home isn’t to measure up against those who try to successfully juggle family life and career. After all, a large part of the joy of home is opting out of the rat race, right? And what have we done if we can say that our days are as hectic as if we also held a job outside the home?There’s an enormous pressure on stay-at-home mothers to prove that they aren’t “wasting their time;” to justify being at home for their families. This is something that doesn’t need to be justified, in my opinion, and often leads to mothers accepting extra responsibilities and activities (even if they have enough on their plate already) such as social functions, volunteering, watching other people’s children, starting home businesses, and trying to fill up every moment of the day.

There seem to be two opposing forces tugging at women’s lives. One is what I call “the syndrome of entitlement” – it’s the notion that we easily can and deserve to have it all, sidestepping every possible obstacle of common sense and responsibility. You want a career but have little children? Put them in someone else’s care. Want to have a fancy house but lack the funds? Convince your husband to succumb to an impossible mortgage you will be paying off for the rest of your lives. Want to have more time for yourself? Demand that it must be given to you, at the expense of other people. We supposedly “deserve” a continuous supply of new clothes, manicures, expensive hairdos and weekly outings to restaurants. The entire “I deserve” myth is propped up by the culture of consumption, which is in its turn an essence of greed.

On the other hand, there’s the “must be, must do” idea of us having to be everything to everyone: “fulfilled” in every area of our lives, successful mothers, homemakers, and career women who scoff at the idea of compromise.

In reality, these two forces are two sides of the same coin: the refusal to understand that everything in life comes with a price, that by choosing a certain path we are thereby stepping off other paths. This is rebellion against God’s ways, against the heart of a wife and mother which draws us to home, and to being there for the ones we love – perhaps not having every material good of this world, but having joy and peace.

Ladies, we don’t have to be overwhelmingly busy in order to be hard-working wives and mothers. On the contrary, I believe it would be counter-productive. Again, if we opted to stay home in order (among other things) not to be frazzled and to have peace of mind, which is so much more conductive to happy and smoothly flowing family life, and yet we frantically attempt to erase every trace of relaxation from our days, what have we accomplished?

A couple of generations ago, the modern pace of life which has now become the norm would have been seen for what it really is – crazy. Restless. Unhealthy for families, for little children. We should be proud, not ashamed, of keeping an island of peacefulness in the midst of the world’s rush, rush, rushing to nowhere. It’s important to set a gentle, quiet rhythm to our days, to take a look at what already is on our plate – and if you have at least one little child at home, I’m estimating that in most cases it’s more than enough – before we accept additional responsibilities, try to achieve perfection, or in any way turn our days into a hazy blur of ticking things off a to-do list.

The fact is, a day at home with your little one(s) will most likely be full and busy whether or not you try to make it so. We don’t have to try to cram more into our day in order to be continuously occupied. It usually happens on its own!

Photo credit: allposters.com

Be Sociable, Share!

About The Author

I'm a Jewish woman, a wife, a mother, a homemaker. A thinker, a dreamer, a learner. An avid cook and baker and a yarn addict. I love everything that has to do with home and family, and enjoy the solitude of my quiet corner, which is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Israel.

Comments

5 Responses to “Don’t have to measure up”

  1. Anna… when reading your writings, I am so often struck by how wise you are for one so young. As I’ve said to you before, “How’d you get so smart so fast?” 😉

    As someone who struggles with guilt feelings for being “lazy,” this part of your article was especially meaningful to me:
    “I believe it would be counter-productive. Again, if we opted to stay home in order (among other things) not to be frazzled and to have peace of mind, which is so much more conductive to happy and smoothly flowing family life, and yet we frantically attempt to erase every trace of relaxation from our days, what have we accomplished?”

    Thanks for sharing, dearie♥

  2. tmichelle says:

    Thank you so much for this article. It was written just for me as a first time mom. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being at home with my little one, my mind is constantly racing thinking about how to bring in money in the future. This is not necessary to our budget but to me feeling like I am “contributing”. Thank you so much Anna, I enjoy reading your articles too 🙂

  3. Tess Bomac says:

    Hi Anna,

    Good post! What is the name/painter of the picture at the bottom? I would be interested in buying a copy for my son’s room.

    Also, speaking of the flip-side of a sexist coin, I also hate it when women disparage traditionally feminine activities or behaviors, like playing with dolls and wearing skirts, and glorify typically masculine behaviors, like climbing trees and not wanting to play with girls. It’s always done in this, “I’ve always been better than other girls” manner, and I have to ask, “Why is acting more masculine better? Not that I have a problem with someone climbing trees or shooting marbles, but why is anyone proud of foregoing traditionally feminine past times?” The reason is simple: feminists are deeply engaged in sexism. They don’t view men and women as equal, but women as needing to be masculinized in order to be equal. I’ve also found that people committed to gender neutrality are also the most concerned about which activities are feminine and which are masculine. (You have to label them before you can determine what’s neutral.)

  4. LydiaH says:

    I have often thought about how sad it is that working women give their “best” to people outside the home rather than to their families. When I was working, even part-time, I found myself exausted and irritable with everyone in the evenings and hating myself for it. Now, I am still pretty tired by the end of the day (homemaking IS hard work, especially for someone like me who doesn’t have the greatest organizational and management skills), but the pace is slower and I can usually squeeze in a nap if I need to.

    Proud to be a “keeper at home”…and sorry for the mothers who aren’t.

  5. sbehan says:

    Thank you for this great post! I don’t have children yet, but work part-time, and have to fight against people – almost especially Christians – who wonder why I don’t work full-time. When I say that it’s so I can look after my husband and have a good amount of time to keep house, they’re even more astonished. I , therefore, often feel pressured to fill my days so that I feel “enough” or like I’m “contributing” in some way.

    It is so encouraging and heartening to read posts like this, and I can be thankful that God has shown His Truth to other women too, and we can uplift one another in our godly pursuits. Thank you, Anna!