Monday, May 9, 2011

No, I am not a stay-at-home mother

Isaac and I have been married for six years. For about, oh.... ALL six of those years, I've been the main breadwinner in our family. Isaac is currently a stay-at-home daddy. That puts us in the minority in America and especially for the evangelical community.

Last week I received four emails via a group of women I'm connected to. The emails all slammed working mothers. Things were said like... the employment rate would go up if women stayed at home. Kids would be off the streets and out of gangs. Women can't really take care of their household and also work. If we weren't so greedy and extravagant women would be able to stay home instead of providing the family with extra money for extra stuff. Women are meant to be caretakers, men are meant to work. We women can't be in submission to our husbands if we are working. Men should be the providers. How can we be fruitful and multiply if we are working outside of the home? .....

I disagree with so much of what was said on so many levels. I fumed over it for days, and finally responded personally because although I don't know the woman, what she was saying was going out to a number of women. Some of them are working too, and some of them have no idea what is actually a Christian way of thinking about motherhood or marital roles and would have no way to really filter what she was saying.

It's gotten to the point where I'm so far from that mentality that it truly sounds crazy to me now. I agree with some things. I agree that children desperately need to cared for and should never just be dumped with any old caretaker and not taught or nurtured by parents. I agree that our society is filled with bad parenting. I agree that my husband and kids need to be my top priority after God. I believe that what God wants for my family needs to override career goals for EITHER a mother or father.

But. I do not believe that the Bible says that women should not work, or that men are meant to work and women to stay at home.

It's simply not in the Bible. Even the quintessential Proverbs 31 woman appears to be a businesswoman.

Actually, it's kind of ironic. The ability for one parent to stay at home while the other supports the family is something the Christian community in America talks about all the time, and yet it's virtually impossible for most of the world. In Indonesia, China... most of the places I've been, many of the women work because they have to. They tend the fields or gardens, they work as maids or factory workers.... because there isn't any other way around it. Our paradigm and what we are saying women need to do is not even on their radar.

Gah. It all annoys me. Balancing work and home IS hard, and our situation right now is not ideal. I am tired... but I'll do it for a while because this arrangement helps Isaac meet his goals, it takes care of Judah, and it keeps the bills paid. I also really like I've spent the first part of our marriage as the provider, and I like that Isaac has experienced and now appreciates the stay-at-home parent thing far more than most dads. Thing is, I'll probably be a stay at home mom one day, and that is totally great. I respect stay-at-home moms. It's a HUGE job. I just hate it that judgement is cast on all working moms as if we are unsubmissive or neglectful.

8 comments:

william and brittany said...

I'm so sorry kacie! however, i also think in a lot of circles, stay-at-home moms are looked down on and criticized. my mom and other stay at home moms i have talked to have said often they feel/ felt like they have to defend her decision to stay home, like it was a "lesser" thing to do than work outside the home, or like they were made to feel inferior in some social circles. anyway, just interesting how critical people are on both sides of the argument!

Jaimie said...

Good for you. That was brave to email them back, and humbling too on some level (to handle it correctly, as I'm sure you did).

Jaimie said...

William -- I will admit, I'm sorta critical of stay-at-home WIVES. Not stay-at-home moms. Just in the sense that I'm like, "Why are you being a child? Do something! Make money, save it! Help out!"

Kacie said...

weeeeelll I'm with william and brittany. :) I see critique on both sides, and I think both are a shame. I don't think scripture addresses the stay at home vs. work debate, and so it ultimately distracts from the greater questions, things that actually address how to parent well. I really do highly respect stay-at-home moms, especially those who turn their family outward into ministry and their community, instead of being entirely focused on the home. That's the challenge, I think. But yeah... people have been asking Isaac what his summer job will be and he just shrugs... he's a daddy and he's writing his thesis. There is no time to get a job on top of that...

Jaimie said...

Yeah, I agree with you, Kacie. By "stay-at-home wives" I mean the Betty Draper '60s sort. That was popular in the '60s...

They showed it really well in "The Help," actually. (Good book.)

Women who aren't mothers and don't have jobs and stay at home all day. It seems so odd, although some circumstances demand it.

Rach said...

You're right on...what a good post! I am so sorry that you've had to deal with that silliness. Unfortunately, several prominent Christian pastors espouse that "women are made to stay at home" junk. That is limiting to mothers and demeaning to fathers who need to or want to be stay at home dads! Although I'm an egalitarian, I get the complementarian mindset--until it extends to completely extra-biblical topics like this one.

I believe that all responsible adults work--we were designed by God to work. Some people get paid monetarily for their work, some don't. Some work mostly outside the home, while some work mostly inside the home. None of these factors determine your worth as a parent.

Steph recently gave me glowing reports of Judah's cuteness...I'm glad they got to visit you guys!

Kacie said...

Jaimie and Rach, I believe you agree. Woah. ;)

Rach, I think you're right on. Everyone should be working, and a good stay at home mom is working, paid or not! And, like you mention, Jaimie, if a woman is barely managing their kids and is mostly just entertaining themselves sitting at home all day, they're not being productive.

Young Mom said...

I completely agree! Why is one parent inherantly more suited to parenting or working outside the home than the other? Why should moms be completely denied any time outside of the home? And why should dads have to work extreme hours and never be able to see their kids because they are "providing enough income to keep their wife at home". The whole mentality is crazy. Each family has to do what works for them, there is virtually no difference between the sexes.