A recent conversation— sparked by my recommendation of this book— has made me think about a paradox I feel in my life. (I wonder how many women share this feeling/awareness…):
I am a huge cheerleader for moms staying at home to care for their families (and I unreservedly think it’s God’s “best plan,” along with two-parent families and living debt-free), but I don’t think it’s the be-all, end-all of my life.
And I don’t think this contradicts scripture.
For one thing, my life doesn’t end when they leave, and that, combined with the fact that God continually grows us, leads me to the conclusion he’s got plans for me beyond my time home with them.
I think they are the most important assignment I will ever have, but they are just one part of my life, not the whole thing.
This is what makes me think my desire to write is more than a distraction. I believe it is a part of me, useful in my parenting journey, that will not be fully explored until my first assignment is fulfilled.
But this awareness of– what can I call it?– a life beyond (within?) my role as a home-keeper, left me feeling hobbled in an uncomfortable conversation I recently got caught in.
I was subjected to… not outright derision at me and my career choice, but snarky jabs at women who do what it looks like I do.
For the first time in my life I think I understand what wounded feminists are trying to label “The Patriarchy,” and the bruises inflicted by subtle racism.
I am fairly sure this was not meant to be mean in a conscious way. It was a mouth speaking out of the overflow of his heart.
Apparently I have lived an *amazingly* sheltered 28+ years.
Among other things, I heard that overused refrain about women who are lost once their children are gone and *need* someone to nurture but there’s no one left.
I tried to shift the conversation: “Two words: Foster care.” (Didn’t work.)
~ ~ ~
I’ve decided my issue with this line is that it’s a straw-man argument.
I would tentatively suggest that a woman who focuses only on her children is mentally ill to some extent.
I’ve never studied this, so don’t quote me, but it seems to me that someone too wrapped up in any one thing (including work *outside* the home) is unbalanced and therefore unhealthy.
But that’s not something I can say in a conversation with someone who is only listening enough to speak and not enough to hear. He would hear me saying he was right, not that I agreed with one narrow definition.
I’m too aware, and not an appeaser, so I couldn’t “allow” that. (Maybe I’m just too proud to just let him think he has shifted my thinking or has my approval…)
I wanted to argue (whether or not he was really listening) that women can be focused primarily on their homes and still be very healthy; to say that, even if they grieve the ending of a significant season, it doesn’t mean they have no life or identity of their own.
But I felt I was the wrong person to argue this.
One homeschooling mother of 10 (whose book I reviewed here) said that she always felt awkward defending and promoting homeschooling because she had been trained as a teacher.
She doesn’t believe her training prepared her at all for what she is now doing, and believes anyone can homeschool, but when asked by a skeptic if she has teaching credentials she must say yes. Inevitably it seems to neutralize her insistence anyone can do it.
I feel this is what happens when I argue a woman can be content at home– because I am content at home probably through the doing of more than “just family.”
I wanted to say, “You’re right and you’re wrong:
“Yes there is a danger with some people of becoming too in-grown. (A workaholic is the first example I think of.)
A man wrapped up in himself is a pretty small package.
“But a woman who is being a home-keeper, not just a house keeper or a nanny, will be developing many skills that will continue to be useful beyond her children’s elementary, high school and college days.”
If it all is lovingly done “as to the Lord,” as well as for those that are fed, more than just physically, from your hand; done conscientiously, to create an atmosphere of peace, safety and all those things that are good, but take effort, you will not be *able* to remain unchanged.
You will not atrophy.
Service is the way we become more like Jesus, and I’ve mentioned before, that if I *have* to be serving someone (or something), I can’t think of anyone I’d rather serve— or have benefit from my service— than my own family.
I love your thoughts here. In C.S.Lewis’ The Great divorce, he actually talks specifically about mom’s who get so caught up in their children that they can’t see anything else, but I am pondering now the application of that. It is true that we can become obsessed over so many things. And, like you, I don’t find any obsession healthy. I find moderation a better path to trod.
And I would expect any mother to be grieving, on some level, when her children are gone. A bend in the road has come. It is natural to grieve what is gone, obsessed or not.
I was never really career-minded but had a variety of interests. Still, my greatest interest was family and I wanted to have children while I was young and pursue those interests more heartily later in life, when I had more leisure (if that will still exist). I’m not sure I’ll ever be pegged down to one area of interest but while I’m parenting, I imagine my curiosity will be helpful as my children learn all sorts of things. I’d like to continue writing and go to grad school — maybe not until the kids go to college themselves. Heh.
Pingback: Untangling Tales » Blog Archive » About that other stuff…
Pingback: Untangling Tales » Blog Archive » Made for Useful Work
What a thoughtful treatment of this subject.