Another “but what if”

Posted By on May 14, 2013

Those of us who live and work full-time within our homes and communities – as women have always done, but for the short period of modern history – now often have to deal with questions such as were posed in a comment I received last week:

“Being a stay home mom is great until husband loses his job, husband becomes disabled or gets cancer, husband divorces you, or husband gets hit by a car and dies. Many homemakers are ill prepared to support their families when such tragedy happens and then the children are thrust into poverty. Also, bear in mind Anna, that your girls will be teenagers while you are still in your 30s which is quite young. What will you do with your time when you are 40, which is VERY young and healthy, and your daughters are out of the house with lives of their own? How much time is really going to be spent on cooking and cleaning once your daughters are gone? What will you do to occupy your time and give you socialization?”

Do I know what will happen in my life in 20, 10, even 5 years? I don’t and can’t have a sure proof way of knowing, when I look back on how much my life has changed in the last five years – I got married, had two children, moved house with my husband 3 times, learned countless things, baked birthday cakes, gathered fresh eggs, and nursed babies. We lived through times of financial and emotional upheavals, began what is now a sort-of-homestead, and overall just tried to enjoy the ride along the way.

I love my two daughters so very, very much. They are simply such wonderful, beautiful children, delightful in every aspect of their beings. My hands and my heart are open for more children, either through birth, adoption or foster care, or perhaps just having our home as an “open house” for children I know, whether from the family or not. But even if I never have more children, I am unspeakably grateful for my daughters. I am their mother; G-d gave them to me – not as possessions, but as a precious fund. I am to care for them,  teach them, learn with them, laugh and cry with them, walk down the path of life with them as a mother and friend.

This is what I am called to do in this season of my life. I know I am. And I know that I will never regret spending those years with them, no matter what happens. I will not allow vague fears of the future prevent me from enjoying the blissful today, which is so joyful not just because I am doing what I love, but I am doing what I am called to do – be a wife, mother and homemaker. Yes, things may happen, but so often they don’t happen the way we plan them; sometimes, our “preparation for emergencies” turns out to be not at all relevant when the rubber hits the road.

For example… a woman may work so she has “something to fall back on”, and then when her husband becomes sick, she realizes she must quit work anyway – with all the financial hardship it entails – to take care of him. A relative of mine lived through such a situation precisely.

I believe I have already written on my blog about options of what I might do with my time if I suddenly find myself with heaps of it on my hands (ha!). The list is endless; I already invest some of my time in helping my husband with his work, particularly translating documents for him. We might embark on some common enterprise together. I might be able to be more active in the community – recently I was asked to join a committee, which at this time of my life I realized would detract too much from my home, so I was forced to say no. In the future I might be needed by my mother, who isn’t getting any younger. I might dedicate more time to creative writing, and hopefully publish.

A wonderful example of an active, creative older woman is Rhonda Jean, a mother, grandmother, homemaker and book author. If I might find myself in Rhonda’s situation in 35-40 years, I will consider my life very well lived indeed.

The commenter goes on:.

For many women, work is not only about money but it’s about sustaining social interaction during the day, engaging in intellectual pursuits, and feeling productive and like they’re contributing to society. Though my salary is meager, I work because I love my job, because I am thanked and appreciated every day for the work that I do, because I learn from it every day, because I genuinely love my work and love the autonomy earning even my meager wage gives me. I love not having to ask for money and to spend it as I see fit.

But you see, if your wage is meager, and your husband’s is nice, it might be that you aren’t really creating very much financial stability for your family anyway. In fact, with tax deductions, commute, work clothes and childcare costs, it might be that a family with a husband who earns nicely and a wife who doesn’t earn much, would actually have been better off, financially, with the wife at home, in particular if the value of humble life and reduced spending is realized.

And here we get to a point that, and I hope you will forgive my bluntness, I must speak against. I have noticed a tendency in women who do paid work to believe that the money their husband earns is family money, but the money they earn is their own private money. I am sorry, but it doesn’t work this way. There were times when I worked, and my husband stayed home with our daughter. None of us wished for this, but it was a temporary measure we felt was necessary, during a period of unemployment. Anyway, the money I earned went not into my personal account, but into the account used to pay bills. I never took any of it personally for myself, it was all for the family.

But does it mean I never had access to money? Not at all. We always kept an envelope of cash in the house, and from it I could take, without asking my husband, whatever I needed for groceries, bus fare, etc. My husband always knew I can be trusted to spend wisely; he knew I would not be frivolous with money.

Furthermore, it is selfish to only stay within your own home and not use your talents to benefit anyone outside of your own home. Please re-read proverbs 31 and you will see a woman who invests in real estate and deals with merchants and generates an income. Especially in today’s world with internet and telecommuting, people can now work from their laptops at home with flexible hours and combined with the fact that we have washing machines and dishwasher our ancestors never had )as well as fewer children), there is no excuse to economically overburden our hard working husbands.

I believe this has been discussed at length already, but I believe, as had already been excellently said, that the Proverbs 31 spans the whole course of a woman’s life. It doesn’t say “this is what must be accomplished by all women, of all seasons and walks of life”. It is plain that a woman with young children at home cannot afford to spend as much time on various pursuits, paid or not, as a woman with grown children, or a young bride who has no children yet. As I said, I might have my own business in the future, or a business with my husband, or someone might even pay money for my writings. But right now, my hands are full at home – yes, believe it or not, even though I have a washing machine (but not a dryer – I like to line-dry. And not a dishwasher, I do the dishes by hand).

As for “overburdening” my husband by staying home… would he have it easier if I worked? Financially, perhaps we could have a bit more money to spend. But it’s not like my husband works long hours because I don’t earn money. He worked long hours before he was even married – that is how it is in his profession, at least in Israel. He can’t exactly walk over to his boss and say, “hey, my wife works now, so I would like to work less hours because I can afford it”. That is simply not how it works at most jobs. Husbands have to work full-time, whether their wives work or not. But of course, I believe it is the wife’s job to handle the family income prudently so that the husband won’t feel the need to work overtime, if he’d rather not.

Thanks to having a wife at home, my husband can come home from work and know he can put up his feet and relax (apart from doing some yard/homestead work I am physically/technically incapable of doing). He doesn’t have to play catch-up with housework.

Thanks to having a wife at home, my husband can keep chickens and goats. He likes it, and it’s relaxing for him to work and interact with animals on weekends. But he wouldn’t be able to do it if there wasn’t someone (me) to do the routine work during the week. I am able to research information for my husband, make calls for him, compare prices for possible purchases online, place ads of things we want to sell, and overall handle things which my husband otherwise would be hard pressed to find time for.

My husband realizes the importance of a wife at home, not in the least thanks to his mother, a wonderful woman with a heart for home, and another shining example of how productive an older woman can be. My mother-in-law never had higher education or a high-paying job, but she is loved by everyone. She never had a bad or insensitive word to say about anyone, and has her heart and her arms open for her grandchildren, always, even though she is over 70.

When your daughters are out of diapers and go to school, you will need outside stimulation as cleaning the house does not take 8 hours a day!

Hey, guess what? My daughters are out of diapers. Well, almost.

Here we reach the part of the comment that speaks about why homeschooling is bad and is only the choice of selfish, immature people. I will tackle it, but right now I feel this is getting too lengthy already, so I will just say this:

The value of a woman in her home has never been doubted, until very recently in history. Now it is assumed that a woman at home is either looking for something better (a job, a higher degree, etc), or is simply someone who isn’t good enough, who is wasting her life and leeching off her husband. This view has deprived families, homes, communities of the gentle touch of a mother’s hand that is so vitally important. I refuse to comply with this view, and so do many others.

I am living my life, doing my best to live it the way G-d intended for me, joyfully, without the burden of fear and guilt. You are welcome to join me as I share bits of this path.

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.


7 Responses to “Another “but what if””

  1. chari2013 says:

    Dear Anna,

    Thank you so much for your website. I wish I had found you earlier in my life. I have been at home for 15 years and have had a difficult time evaluating my worth. For the first time, I feel worthy as a stay at home mom. I have so much reading to do from your website, again thanks. I hope to be better as a whole person and in my responsibilities as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and sister. peace.

  2. cdmi says:

    Thank you for your beautifully written words about the “what if”. It gives all of us something to think about.

  3. mellison says:

    Shalom Anna,
    Marvelous answer.

  4. doreen says:

    I looks like a ‘the sky is falling’ outlook for the commenter. It’s living in fear, and it helps no one.

    Unless one looks to God, which the commenter obviously does not, then everything will look hopeless.

    God gives His grace for varying circumstances in our lives. When death, sickness or any unwanted event occurs, God is there, and He will deal with the pain and circumstance with grace.

    He is a good God, let’s look to Him.

  5. GrowingGirl says:

    That was very nicely put! As a future homemaker, I find myself under this sort of scrutiny often. I am homeschooled, Christian, and engaged at 16 . . . not necessarily easy for those who don’t know me to swallow! Although my fiance and I have a plan in place, serve the Lord whole-heartedly, and believe that what we are doing is right, we are sometimes very disheartened by people like this. Your firm and very kind words were incredibly inspiring to me! Thank you so much for posting; I am not lying when I say that you just made my day:) Your kindness and patience throughout your reply is something I aim for! Often I become frustrated, and when faced by ignorance and contempt like this, it is sometimes hard not to become irritated. I’ll certainly think of this response the next time I feel irked! Thank you so much for posting, and God bless:)

  6. irisT says:

    Well spoken. And good to hear there are christian ladies who do find a job when the husband is un able to.
    I do work but… I donot go to disco’s, bars, i donot wear make up or follow the shorter than short fashion… and i love to be home.

    Comment: ” well the kids are in bed by 7:30, what are you going todo all night…”

    * talk to mt husband
    * read the bible
    * knit a sweater for the kids or my selve
    * prepare the sewing of clothes for me or the kids
    * find a new recipy
    * plan weekly meals
    * crochet something for the home
    * see if some one purchase something from my “web store”
    * take a shower without a baby knocking on the door calling Mamamama”(yes he is one…mama cannot leave unles daddy is there..)
    * writa letter
    * make a card for an upcomming wedding/birthday/baby..
    * post on my little blog..

    Time is to short.
    I feel sorry for woman who think that you are only worth something if you are acting like a man…well i am not. So i kicked out eMANcipation and am looking forward to eWOMANisation. Giving woman the place and honour they deserve..

    protected, loved, at home so that they can use their talents to take care of the well being of the family.

  7. Tiffany says:

    This was very well put, Anna. I ,like the original commenter, work outside the home and enjoy my job very much; however, I am not married and have no children.

    Despite liking my job, I find it hard to imagine being more “fulfilled” by working than by staying at home with my children one day. Sure my coworkers are kind and I receive positive affirmation for a job well done, but how much more precious is the affirmation from your loved ones–your husband and children.

    Your coworkers can never care about you or love you like your family does. Family is for life, and it is only fitting that a mother spend her life for and with her family. It astounds me that the world tells us there is something innately better about serving one man (your boss) than serving another man (your husband, who has promised to love and care for you for life). We have things so backwards today!

%d bloggers like this: