Combating the "You Should Get Out of the House More" Mentality

Let's be willing to say it like it is: as moms of young children, the best place for us to be is at home.

That's just the truth. One can find all sorts of arguments about having the right to be elsewhere, exceptions (a widowed or abused single mom) and more, but the overarching, general truth is -- and we all know it -- children are happiest and best raised when mom is home with them and engaged in their daily lives.

It's strange that it's politically incorrect to say that moms are needed. At home. To be there for their children.

No one has a problem with a boss who says things like, "Jim is the reason for this company's success." Or, "Sandy holds th
is office together." No one gripes and says it's demeaning for a worker to be needed in their job. So why is there a cultural problem with saying that moms are needed by their children? It's the truth. And, interestingly, that is what God tells young women that they need to learn: to be "working at home", loving their children.

It can be good to attend a ladies' Bible study. It can be beneficial to be a part of a co-op or playgroup. It can be wonderful to get together with a friend. These things can be quite beneficial. But on the whole, more often than not, young moms should be at home. God has given the privilege of conceiving, birthing, and nursing children to young women, and it is only for a season.

BUT "THEY" SAY...
"They" are always saying all sorts of things, aren't they? There are an abounding number of loud voices telling us that we "need" to get out... that we can't be mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually satisfied and stimulated at home... that our self-worth depends on having individual aims that are separate and distinct from who we are and what we do in our homes. And all too often, we believe it.

Some take it so far to say that if we have a brain, we ought to be using it for society. That other people can raise our children for us (because that's mindless work), so that we can contribute to the surrounding community (as though raising hard-working, honest, God-fearing children isn't a significant contribution). But even without these feminist notions in our brains, we still hear the common refrain: "You need to get out of the house more." Even within very godly circles, young moms can easily feel that what they are doing in their daily lives at home is not really the most faithful, godly thing they could be doing.

But what kind of world is it, really, where women are encouraged to feel negatively about being home with the very people who need them most? Where women are encouraged to get away from moments that bring great joy and delight? Where women are made to feel that their minds are only fully used outside the home? Where women are made to feel guilty when they choose to use their intellect and passion to infuse the minds of the next generation with a strong moral foundation, good common sense, and a broad, wise understanding of the world around them?

It is lousy, unbiblical advice that encourages women to abandon the God-appointed place of their sanctification and usefulness to Him.
And for young moms, generally, that place is in the home.

OUR HOMES-- IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF IT
Our homes ought not be run according to the principles, wisdom, and priorities of the world. Even as Christians, this is an easy trap to fall into.

Sometimes it's difficult... minister's wives, for example, may be pressured or expected to take on more than they should while having young children at home. Young mothers who display any sort of spiritual depth will likely be asked to teach Sunday school classes, head up ministries, or contribute time and energy to "good" things. Young moms are often actively encouraged to join groups like MOPS, scrapbooking clubs, ladies' Bible studies, or other fine and fun activities.

It can be hard to discern what God wants us to do when other people are so vocal in telling us what we "need" to be doing. It may require that we learn to say "no". We may need to learn to graciously but unapologetically stand up for what God reveals in His word-- that God's general plan for young moms is to be doing the basics-- loving their husbands, loving their children, exercising self-control, living purely, and working at home, offering kindness to others and submission to their own husbands. It's not popular, but following God almost never is.

And sometimes you can even get lambasted for it by other Christians... that you need to be doing "more". Sometimes it is the very people who ought to be encouraging us to stay home-- the "older women" mentioned in Titus 2-- that ask or encourage us to be away from our homes. But regardless of who's doing the asking, we need to take to heart the things that God would have us learn and do as younger women, and implement these things into our lives.

DISCIPLING DAILY
When you are discipling little souls and training them to love Jesus while wiping their noses, tying their shoes, and cutting their meat into smaller
bites, you ARE "doing more". It is a HUGE thing to be daily in contact with one or more young disciples that you are loving and training up in their faith. It is a HUGE thing to be available to answer their queries, tell them a Bible story, listen to lengthy explanations about the purpose of a new toy creation, or to pray with them at night when they are scared. It is a HUGE thing to be, daily and hourly, earning the trust and respect of a little person, so that they might later all the more fully trust and respect Christ.

It is a HUGE thing to "just" spend time with your children. Christ Himself spent three entire years with 12 grown men and some of them still took a while to really get it. And let's not forget that it wasn't all miracles and parables... sometimes, Jesus & His disciples were just sitting around eating fish, or taking a nap in the hull of a ship.

We as moms are given (Lord willing, if we are blessed to watch them grow into adulthood) potentially 18-20 years of daily interaction with our children. We are privileged to pray for and with them, "study" them-- learning their personality, their strengths & weaknesses, their skills, their interests-- and, in so doing, offer wise guidance as counsel as they grow, and serve them with kind affection. Spending time together, watching, teaching, learning, and loving-- these are no small things.

Should I strive to "get out of the house more"?
Sometimes I struggle here, particularly in an overseas setting-- I want to be able to communicate with my neighbors better. I wish I had more time for Turkish study. I would enjoy being able to share deeper things and communicate more clearly, instead of at a toddler-level of communication in this language. There is a natural pull there for me.

And sometimes, well-meaning others even give me that oft-offered advice, "you should get out of the house more". I know that from the outside, mine seems like a very cloistered life.

But right now, I have four small children... four little people I get to communicate with every single day. Four souls that I can impact and disciple every single day. Three men and one woman who I can begin influencing and shaping right now. I am doing big things and changing the world by discipling those that God has put into my immediate sphere of influence. And it's a job no one else can do in the way that God has equipped me to do.

Whether or not the world salutes it, whether or not the Christians around us value it, there is high value and eternal significance to this work of motherhood.

IT'S A BIG JOB... AND I WANT TO DO IT!
Day-in, day-out motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Our culture whispers lies about it, saying it's easy, insignificant, or that anyone can do it. But the difficulty of it lies in the facts about it-- very few do it for the long-haul, and even fewer do it well.

I want to be one that crosses the finish line with exuberance. One that struggles through even the hardest of times with God's peace and joy, and thankfully walks through the good times. One who is a reliable, rock-solid source of comfort, strength, wisdom, and encouragement (all drawn from the wells of God's word) for my husband and children. One that doesn't come up with excuses of why I am the exception in God's plan for younger women. One who yields to the demands of the Potter who knows much better than I do what I was made for... I am striving to be a young mom who says, "yes, Lord. Yes. Here am I. Use me."

123 comments:

Joy @ SAH Missionary said...

Jess,
Wow! I am the first to comment! I guess it's the whole living overseas in a different time zone thing.
Anyhow, this is just about THE best post I have ever read. You go girl! This has been my focus on my blog, as a missionary wife, to help people realize that mothering is ministry, and I so appreciate your thoughtful words on this subject.
Thanks for sharing!
Blessings,
Joy

Ruth said...

Oh wow... Amen!

Thanks for sharing. I have been so blessed by this post.

May God continually bless you.

Naomi Rebecca said...

I am a mom who spends most time at home. I agree with you to a point--Don't you find that you are mentally 'out of the house' by being online a lot? I often struggle with my time being sucked up by the internet; even in worthy activities, like blogging.

Being overseas myself, I can't see giving up the internet because we use it for just about *everything.* But I think it's a bigger distraction than a weekly playgroup or Bible study could ever be.

Blessings,
Naomi

Anonymous said...

Jess I just love your blog ,you have wisdom beyond your years. I will be printing out some of your wisdom for my girls they are young yet but this will help guide them,we are surrounded by worldly advice at church and from my inlaws ,it was amazing to me to watch my husbands neice be given advice when she gave birth at 15, she truely started out in love with her baby and I believe she could have been a great Mom with help but the help she received was dont breastfeed dont hold the baby put the baby down dont pick him up when he cries . Go away and leave the baby ,they often sent her away for weekends at first and then week long vacations , and they would laugh in a knowing way when she would cry and be sad because she missed him or wanted to hold him. So they have accomplished a lot because now he is 4 and is able to stay at various relatives in different states and not see his Mom or Dad for a month at a time and he truely doesnt care and they think this is a good thing!Thank God my husband saw things differently! I wouldnt have married him if he hadnt,people like you Jess give a light to people being lead in a dark dark world, I am probably concidered a nut because of the way We raise our girls and basicly the only difference I see is they dont dress like hookers and they are kept pretty close to us even though they do sleep over on occasion and they often have friends over it amazes me these things are concidered extreme! ok rambeling I know it, great post!

Jess said...

Naomi,
What you've written is true.

And I personally do need to be careful in my time spent online... for me, for example, writing is a very natural and fairly straightforward process-- I don't edit and re-edit, etc... it doesn't take a very great amount of time for me to keep up things here... but I do need to be careful. And I'd encourage others to be careful and intentional as well... (and have, many times, in the recent past, in fact). Here are some thoughts on this:

Making Room For What Matters

The Best Use of the Time

At the same time, though, online community is a tool that each of us must evaluate as to how it can be useful to us. It's a place where we each need to look to the Lord and our husbands for direction-- and one that my husband and I reevaluate fairly regularly (how much time to spend, what to write about, whether to continue blogging, etc.).

As you mentioned, living overseas presents different challenges than being in a community of like-minded English speakers. Anyway, thanks for adding your thoughts... they are things I toss around and consider also.
~Jess

Jess said...

One more thing I wanted to add, Naomi... is that one difference is that online activities don't actually take us out of our home. They mentally give us other things to think about... as a book or the Word of God would do... but they allow us to think and learn and converse and ponder things while in our own homes.

We can stop at any moment and turn to meet the needs of our children (if we happen to be on while they're up), or we can put off our online activities until they're all in naps (as my children are now) or in bed.

So, in that way, it's different than some outside-of-the-home activity.

Erin said...

Thank you, Jess. Wonderfully written!

darci said...

Amen, sister!! WOw, you really said so well what I have been thinking and learning in the past few months. Having read Titus recently (over and over!) and looking at who God calls me to be-the relationships with other women to be mentoring ones, my life to be wrapped up in loving God, my hubby, my children, weaving together our home and our lives-beautiful! Society, or 'they' say, 'love yourself, take care of yourself, nurture yourself, have time for yourself'-and God says to love, to serve, to be 'happy at home'.
Actually, it's so neat to me, how much God LOVES us..as I have sought to live in this way, and honour Him, I have begun 'feeling' more 'happy at home'. I love being home with my family more than anything in the world. As I have sought to learn submission and unconditional respect for my husband, God has blessed us with a deeper love. God is so good! Everything written in His word is for our benefit..and for some reason we so easily turn from what He says to what 'they' say..how right you are that so often it is other believers who place such demands on us. I know that I am no longer very popular..because I say 'no' so much. But one day, may I get to Heaven and have God say' well done, mommy and wife'. :) It is truly the highest calling-at this point in our lives, moms of young children, this IS our life, our ministry, our calling.
God bless. darci ;)

DarcyLee said...

When my children were little, I so often heard "You need to get out of the house once in awhile" and I believed it but didn't always act on it, thank God. When my husband and I found out we were going to have our first baby, we decided that I would be staying home with our children and I have never regretted it. Now, our daughter and her husband are expecting their first baby, and she will be staying at home full time, which I am so glad about.

However, whether we homeschool or send our kids to traditional school, may I say how very important it is to be at home for them as they go into their teenage years? When my three older girls were in their teens, my husband and I foolishly got heavily involved with ministry and almost lost our two older daughters because they had gotten involved in things at church that we weren't aware of (unfortunately, there are ungodly people in the church sometimes). Rearing children is a full time job and I applaud your post, Jess. Thank you for encouraging young mothers.

Anonymous said...

Jess, I sincerely believe you need to "get out more" and talk with real, live feminists, instead of just reading about what feminists supposedly believe from conservative screeds.

I don't recognize myself (a stay-at-home mom of two) or any of the feminists I know well in your posts about how "feminism" devalues motherhood, staying home with kids, etc.

You can find some academic article making such claims, I'm sure, but I was raised by a stay-at-home feminist mom, and I know plenty of other feminists, both in her generation and mine, who did or are staying home to raise their kids.

I have literally never gotten a negative comment from a feminist woman when I explain that I haven't worked outside the home since my first child was born. In fact, women frequently say things like, "That's wonderful" or "You're so lucky to be able to do that" or "I did that too when my kids were little."

Being able to stay home with my kids was the main reason my husband and I moved back to this part of the country, so we could afford to have me not work outside the home (and could afford to have him not work 60-hour weeks).

In the congregation I attend, I know several families who moved to the midwest from the east or west coast specifically because they got twice the home for half the money and the wife would no longer have to work outside the home. All of these women hold other views about women's equality that would be considered "feminist."

Speak for yourself and your own values, but please don't believe everything you read about big, bad anti-child feminists. Like I said, "get out more" and get to know some of us before you claim to understand what we think about motherhood and raising children.

Laurie B

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

Jess,
This is such an important concept for women to "get"! You are sooooo right in what you have shared! This is soooo important!!! It really is one of the key things that will "make or break" a family, I believe. I must be honest, even though my kids are 18 (in college/living at home) and 15 (a sophmore in high school - homeschooled) I am STILL at home most of the time. They STILL need me to be available. My college daughter is in and out all day. She needs me to be there so she can talk when she is home, so that meals are available, so that I can cheer her on. My son needs me with home schooling, so he can bring his friends home, so I am available when he wants to talk. I am still "keeping the home". It still needs to be in order, meals need to be made etc. My husband still needs me to be available. Most of the time when I do go out, it is to go to watch one of them play a sport, a choir concert, or an activity as a family. Most of my "ministry" (outside the family) takes place in my home. We live on a college campus, and the girls come over to talk, or young mom's come here a lot because it gives them an opportunity to be spoiled by me! and to talk. Much of my life is still at home, and I love love love it!

Now that my kids are older, and they have friends that come over (especially my daughter's college friends) they are making comments to my daughter like "you don't know how good you have it with a mom who is home and available." They tell here that their mom is hardly ever home, their parents fight, etc. The fruit of being home is really seen, even by young people. It is worth it! My being home most of the time has been what has been used to nurture my relationship with my children and my husband,because they know they don't have to compete with "my agenda".

I want to encourage you, and other moms of young children, that if you keep this a priority, the fruit of it is amazing! You will not regret it! I am so thankful that God opened my eyes to this when my children were young.

Jess said...

Laurie,
I mentioned "feminism" once in this entire post, referring to a couple of notions that are derived from feministic lines of thought. But my focus in this post is on our priorities as Christian young women and what we hear within Christian circles...

I think you need to read what I actually write instead of reading what you think I think into what I'm writing.
~Jess

Anonymous said...

Jess,
Great article. Right on! I live overseas (8 years as a missionary in Kyiv). I have three kids - the biggest problem has been what you've addressed in the article. There is constant pressure from the missionary circle to "do more". Women who don't are called "just moms". It's hard to keep up with this pressure day in and day out, especailly since they are the community we find oursevles in (our team).But I know what God has called me to and I know that I'm accountable to HIM not others. Thank you for providing this encouragement today!!!! I'm sure I'll come back to this article from time to time.
Holly
Kyiv, Ukraine

Dani said...

Wonderfully well written post!! Amen and Amen!!

I cannot see how anyone else needs me more than my husband and kids. I did not come into marriage with this conviction. After having our first child we knew that we would do whatever it took for them to be at home with us and not cared for by others.

Young Christian Woman said...

Amen!

It is so good to hear this. I love being at home with my daughter (almost 7 months) and I would not trade it or her for anything. And I do hear all the time how I should get out some. Even my husband says sometimes that it's good for me to get out some, to have adult conversation, et cetera--and he completely supports me and our decision that I will raise our own daughter.

Especially since I considered becoming a teacher at one point, the idea that I should stick my children in day care and have a job (presumably because it would be more fulfilling or intellectually stimulating) is puzzling.

First, if I were to teach in public school, I would be teaching the same thing every year to a classroom full of 20 kids I have no vested interest in. If I stay at home, I will continually be teaching different things to a (probably) smaller number of children whom I love deeply and have ongoing relationships with, and will be able to share the things of God with them.

So if I were to be a teacher, wouldn't the message of "staying home isn't worth it" boil down to "Go raise other people's children and let stupid people (smart people are doing real work as scientists, doctors, and cashiers) raise your children"? And the implication would be, since my job involved teaching young people, I was too stupid to get a "good" job where I could work with adults doing edifying labor like making corporate logos blink?

Anonymous said...

Wow, this posting has stuck with me this morning. I spent some time working at our local welfare hospital.
I see how low-income families struggle. I grew up in a family that had a comfortable income, so, yes, it's been within our range to live our ideals.

But especially given today's economic climate, and Jess, I realize you're overseas and may not be seeing what's going on here, my heart goes out to families that are facing difficult choices.

Does giving up mom's income mean that the only neighborhood they'll be able to afford is a dangerous one, rife with drugs and gunfire?

And for families already in those types of neighborhoods, does giving up mom's income mean losing their home?

Personally, I'd like to see us lifting up the efforts of low-income households. Moms in these households may already feel terrible about not being able to stay home with kids.

What can we do to ease their burdens? Can we advocate for workers' rights? Corporate accountability so as to ensure that people make a living wage? Or offer to care for a friend's kids so that the mom can save a little money and hopefully work toward more financial stability?

There are no easy answers, but from what I have seen, there are many out there who are doing their best and it seems that if we can extend a helping hand, perhaps someday staying at home with the kids WILL be within reach for them.

amy

Jess said...

Amy,
I'm so glad you've written in... yes, there are Christian families facing difficult choices... just as they have for centuries all around the world.

I appreciate your heart for the poor, and we all need to have that concern in our hearts and minds. At the same time, I made it a specific point to speak in generalities. Yes, as you point out-- and as I pointed out-- there are exceptions. But generally, God's plan for young women with small children is pretty clear.

In a country where poverty level still usually means being fat, owning multiple TVs, having a gaming system, and eating out... it seems to me that we need to lower our expectations of what are "needs" and be willing to exist more humbly and simply. I say that as a woman who has lived in third-world conditions... and yet somehow survived without all the frills. It can be done... and in an economic climate as currently exists in the US, perhaps a little more time spent enjoying the simple pleasures of family life would relieve many families of the perceived need for the new Wii, the new HDTV, the cable bill, and many other frills.

Sure, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. But my aim here is to focus on the general guidelines for young Christian moms with young children.
~Jess

Megan Preedy said...

Jess, from now on, whenever someone tells me I should do more or be focusing on something that is not my husband and kids, I'm just going to email them this link. I have struggled to put these same feelings to words and just haven't been able to. Thank you for doing it so well!

Jess said...

Megan, Holly, and Joy,

I have wanted to post this so many times, and it has sat in my drafts folder for months. There's so much to say, and I kept on working on it and trying to get it to express things just the right way. I'm glad it resonated with each of you.

~Jess

Jessica Rae said...

Jess,
Thank you for blogging. This is THE Post of Posts as far as I'm concerned. I know your kids and fam are your number one priority, but please know that so many others are SOOO edified by these posts and we appreciate whatever time/thoughts you have left over and are able to share with us. My heart is so encouraged by these words!!

Anonymous said...

This truly speaks to my heart this morning! I *am* a SAHM and have always been convicted of that-- before even conceiving our children.

What I have found truly challenging, though, is the perception that saying *anything* about the importance of being at home is somehow a "judgment" on those that don't.

I guess my question is-- how do you witness to others around you about the incredible importance of this call-- RIGHT NOW-- as so many of these mothers are losing precious, precious days in search of "themselves" without alienating the very women I want to reach. I find my silence lends to the typical beliefs (or what I think many women *want* to believe), that I am unique in liking staying at home and its just "not them", or that I didn't have a fulfilling career beforehand so it wasn't hard for me to leave it, or that our financial situation made it "easier" for us, etc, etc, ... Yet, any kind of vocal expression of staying home seems to bring about defensiveness.

I am prayful about this because I have chosen to be silent after just a few unsuccessful attempts at discussing my point of view. Any advice would be welcomed. Yet, I know God is calling us all to raise our children, and I am saddened by the increasing ideology that everything else is more important (especially a mother's "happiness & fulfillment in her career) and pushing the agenda that children are even better off spending their days with just about anyone.

melissa

Kelly said...

Wow Jess soooo well said. I totally agree with you.
From non Christians I always get, how can you stand being home all day alone? And from Christians I get, don't you want to serve in your church and community more. So either way there is pressure to "get out of the house more" as you said.
I love what you said. I too with just my daughter, who is 3, feel such a pull to do things for myself or help out at my church, but I know my first priority is her spending the days with her.
I wouldn't trade our afternoon of cookie baking yesterday for any club or cause.

Anonymous said...

"Our culture whispers lies about it, saying it's easy, insignificant, or that anyone can do it."

Who says that? Bookstores are filled with books about parenting. Newspapers and magazines have columns with parenting advice. Who says being a mother is easy, insignificant or anyone can do it?

No one does.

By the way, the conservatives who encourage young people to get married so that they can have sex, then encourage those young married couples not to use birth control, are the ones who seem to believe that "anyone" can be a parent, regardless of their maturity level.

Laurie B

Rachel said...

When I was young and in a public school, one teacher wanted to know what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to be a mother. She laughed and told me that was not something to "be" it was just something that happened and you learn to deal with it. Still, when I found out that I was finally going to have my first child - there was no looking back. I am a mommy to 3 wonderful children. And I think that is the best thing to "be" in the world.

Thanks for such a wonderful post - I enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for acknowledging my post, Jess. Unfortunately, I've seen far too many families in the U.S. who truly do live in 3rd world country conditions right here, although I can understand the reference to families who are better off than they might think, with wii's and tv's.

Truly, I am concerned about the notion that higher income people hold the poorest to standards that are beyond their reach, but that said, yes, I am glad to see that so many are able to and do choose to be stay-at-home moms.

amy

Jess said...

Laurie,
You wrote:
"Our culture whispers lies about it, saying it's easy, insignificant, or that anyone can do it."

...Who says being a mother is easy, insignificant or anyone can do it?

No one does.



Actually, I had these exact words spoken to me about two months ago to my face from a very significant person in my life, who also happens to be a self-described feminist (a-Hillary-Clinton-voting, well-informed, well-educated, older feminist woman who knows what she's talking about when she says feminist). So, yeah. Some people do say these things.

In addition to people in my real life, authors like Linda Hirschman say these things. And almost every week in the British press, one can find a mainstream feminist making these same basic comments.

Look, Laurie. I'm glad that you don't feel this way. I'm glad that there are self-described feminists who don't believe everything that the general Feminist movement has put forth... but the fact is that the Feminist movement has had a goal of moving women OUT of the home into what they would term more "significant" work. I happen to disagree with that movement about what is significant. So I blog about it. You have a blog too... so please, write about your differences with Feminism there.

But please don't act like feminist thought is actually in favor of degreed, educated women staying home with their children and devoting their lives to diligent, faithful, Christian instruction of them. It's absurd.
~Jess

E03 said...

Jess,
this is such a helpful post. I know recently one of my friends who is a newer Christian and getting married soon said smth like "well of course every couple needs a night away a week, a date night." such common ideas of what our "needs" are. She may have read that in one of the many Christian-psychology-type marriage books I've seen around her house.
So much of what our culture would say we need and deserve, our Father might say we must lay down. "Look out not for your own interests, but the interests of others". In some ways, the Christian's walk is very simple, because we don't need to know all the new research and trends. We just need to know and apply God's Word.
May we have the courage to do so.

I just want to say i really appreciate reading posts on your blog, even tho I'm not a mom or even married. I'm encouraged and blessed. I grew up in a home w/ parents who were 'in ministry' and have been around many people of that stripe, and I know they must face big pressures to get out and do "real ministry" with their spouses...not just stay home.

www.eohthree.blogspot.com

Jess said...

Oh, and Laurie,
Look at the comment by Rachel, just after your last one...

http://makinghome.blogspot.com/2008/12/combating-you-should-get-out-of-house.html?showComment=1229196420000#c2168708183047915545

Those are the kinds of whispers I'm talking about.

Polly said...

I could not agree more. There's so much to say about this, but I don't have the time or space to write it all!

*I have heard these whispers, too--before I had children I had people tell me I would be "bored" at home (b/c I'm an attorney). After my son was born and I was working ultra-part-time from home, one woman said "Oh good,I hate to see education wasted." And so many little comments in between--it's interesting; it doesn't bother me on a personal level b/c I flat-out love my job, but it's always so interesting to observe how our culture views 'at home' motherhood.

*another thing is that I definitely get encouraged to 'get out more'--Mom's groups, outside activities,etc etc. The truth of the matter is that many (most! maybe all!) of those activities are really good things. But they aren't good things for me, right now, at this point in my life. I LOVE being at home, love the rhythm of a day with wide margins (not being rushed to get here or there), love the many things I can accomplish when I say 'no' to the world and 'yes' to being home. I still get out a lot (garden club,woman's club, church, Bible study,bd of directors) but have been going through a period for the past few weeks trying to determine what to prune so I can have more time to be sure I'm really focusing on what matters to us as a family. And the Other Stuff takes backseat to my wife/mother/homekeeper duties--a far, far backseat. (And my meetings, except for the Bible study I am thinking of joining, are all in the evening--usually 2-3 nights per month,and that's it.)

I get this all the time though: 'maybe you can join X group' (Mom's group, play group, library read-aloud group...) These really are GOOD things. But they aren't good things/the right things for us right now.

some of this I think is due to not getting 'job training' before undertaking this job--we go from meetings, seminars, etc at work to 'at home' without knowing exactly how to organize a day, manage a household,etc (at least this was my experience). I worked from home for 3 years before having a child and that helped tremendously b/c I learned how to do the 'at home' things that I'd never been trained or encouraged to do! When a woman transitions from working full time to being at home full time that transition can be incredibly hard, and thus the professionalization (or whatever) of motherhood--lots of activities, being on the go, etc.

I was replaceable as an attorney. But I'm irreplaceable as a wife and mother. My husband and child *need* me. Best work I've ever done.

Z' Hodges said...

This does give me a lot to think on. I'm not sure where I stand to be honest.

I'm home all day with the kids and I confess it does has it's toll on me. I'm currently and constantly asking the Lord to fix my heart where it's not giving Him glory. I confess it gets hard when I'm constantly hearing crying, whining, and I'm constantly repeating and disciplining. Let's be honest IT'S WORK!

But, praise be to God that I know that this is the season of training and I know that God is using this for my good. I don't get out. My only "BREAK" is when they are in the nursery at church.

I admire some of my friends who gets date nights or even night out with the girls. But, then I trust that God knows that I don't need to be driving right now and that He has me still in a position of gaining friends (new state and church).

Once again, I appreciate the post and I believe there's something to glean from this, but I'm not sure if the struggle I'm having is my flesh or just a difference of opinion. I really appreciate you,Sister. I'm glad that I found this blog. I look at it so much and is always encouraged by it.

Zinnada<><

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess,
I only tend to pop in here when someone (like Mandi/Hopinandprayin did today on Facebook) links to a post that sounds intriguing...I should stop in more often, I think!

Anyway...sometimes I actually have felt guilty about being SUCH a homebody, not necessarily about needing to tend to my own needs more, but not going to every playdate/storytime/music class/sport that made itself available.

But I think if I gave into THAT lie? I would feel even MORE need to "get out of the house" without my kids. I highly doubt Jesus played soccer, went to library storytime, etc

Sometimes I long for more community, though; I think American culture, and Western culture in general as it pervades the rest of the world, is not conducive to traditional "community" in which you not only see your neighbors every day, but interact with them and share responsibilities. I think there was a time in which the village did help raise the child, but I don't think Hilary's version of that is the same thing at all.

I've got more thoughts on that, but I think this comment is getting long already!

Anonymous said...

oh, that last comment was from AndreaBT...I think I signed it Anonymous, but forgot to leave my name!

Caitlin L said...

Thank you so much for this post. It encouraged me so much--especially in this time of my life. Thank you for being a blessing and I know what a blessing you are to so many who don't comment! God bless you!

Rachel said...

Hurray! Thank you for writing this!! Especially, "I am doing big things and changing the world by discipling those that God has put into my immediate sphere of influence. And it's a job no one else can do in the way that God has equipped me to do."

I'm so excited and encouraged to "do big things" when I have children of my own :)

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

What a topic this is, huh? I find these discussions very eye opening! I think we "see" what we WANT to "see"! When I read the comment about people living in poverty etc. it really struck a cord with me...because...technically, my husband and I have lived at almost "poverty level" for 20 years! We have been in ministry for 20 years and have lived on his one income since we started having children 18 years ago. We have been committed to my staying home since the beginning. We have lived in apartments, and even two cute little town houses. We have always had what we need, and even a little bit more. GOD HAS ALWAYS BLESSED OUR COMMITMENT TO MY STAYING HOME. Have we always been perfect in how we spend our money? no. But God has blessed us incredibly. He has provided in the COOLEST WAYS....and what a testimony that has been to our children--to see God provide! You do what you have to do to make ends meet on one salary, even if it means you sacrifice some things....one car, one bathroom, and not having an abundance of things...that is how we live and we are happy. I live outside of D.C. We see alot of poverty...a lot of sad stories...and a lot of unwise use of money. I always find it interesting to see the homeless man on the corner begging for money...with a cigarette in his mouth. could that money have bought a meal instead of a pack of cigarettes? I think that in many cases (I know there are exceptions) people need to really sit down and evaluate their priorities and see where their money is going. It can be eye opening. I will even do that periodically...I'll look at my budget and where I can cut back. God always shows me something!!

Naomi Rebecca said...

But please don't act like feminist thought is actually in favor of degreed, educated women staying home with their children and devoting their lives to diligent, faithful, Christian instruction of them. It's absurd.

LOL. This is too true. Like yourself, I shelved a few degrees and a career to train up and home educate my own children. It's NOT a popular choice with "liberated" women.

Thanks for the links about evaluating internet time -- it's something we definitely look at again and again.

One thing, though -- I agree that you can 'look after' the kids since they are right there (or napping); but it's the *convenience* of having online access right there which makes it so addictive.

Before you know it, a quick check seems to end up being half an hour, etc. :) Now that I've written this, I'm putting a timer by the computer!

--Naomi

Crystal Paine said...

Jess, this post was incredibly encouraging. Thank you for saying what we young mommies never hear enough of.

Oh how I pray God gives me the grace and perseverance to finish well!

Thanks so much for the encouragement you are, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I think you will have trouble finding any verses in the bible instructing mothers never to use babysitters, or on how much time to use babysitters. (Go ahead, try.) The truth is that the ideal of motherhood that you describe is a modern invention. In biblical times, it would have been very much acceptable for a woman to have a servant or relative tend to her children while she does other work (crafts, farming, running a business, supervising household servants, etc).

I grew up without a Mom, and spent a lot of time with babysitters, so for me it was a no-brainer to stay home while my son was small, and build a career where I could have the flexibility to be there for him always, because I remembered that longing I had as a child. When he was little, I was more judgmental of Moms that didn't make the same choice I did, but as my son grows up with these other kids, I've seen that the vast majority of them are just fine--they are loved, and it's the love and support that means the most. There is no recipe for raising a godly child. I know I would have been thrilled to have a loving mother in my life, even if she worked outside the home. In fact, I often wished I had a professional woman as a mother as a role model and guide in my own life. Though you don't want to acknowledge it, God has given some of us other callings than motherhood only. If you want others to respect your calling to stay home exclusively with your children, then have some respect for those who are following a different path.

S. Domino said...

Jess, I found Making Home through another blog and what you write has been touching me for weeks. This post was something I needed to hear. I am passionate about and proud to be a stay at home mom. However, I also work about 10-13 hrs a week online doing some marketing. I'm extremely aware of the way being a SAHM can be seen negatively because I've noticed myself that depending on who I talk to, I answer the question, "What do you do?" differently. To some I mention my marketing first, to others my mothering job. I'm sorry Laurie took your post to mean negative things about all feminists. I do agree that the feminism movement was the catalyst for driving women out of the home and is mostly responsible for our nation's children being raised by people other than their moms.

I also agree that people see SAHMs as having an easy job- or worse... NO job. I still get questions like, "What do you do all day?" and I just witnessed the saddest thing over the Thanksgiving holiday. A distant relative of mine just became a mom for the first time and she's staying home with the baby. She's been having a hard time with it and I sat by and listed to her mom, grandma, and aunt talk about how she just wouldn't be happy until she left the house and got a job.

I agree that some people are more cut out for working outside the home than being a servant within the home. But when did children become merely an accessory to our lives? I think being a parent calls for sacrifices and if that means your child needs something that is difficult for you to give, you do it anyway to the best of your ability.

Thanks for the blog. I'm a dedicated reader!

Anonymous said...

God bless you Jess! I am a missionary wife and mother and I continually face pressure from other missionary wives to push myself and my family harder, go faster, do more....etc...I thank God for my husband and the fact that he has no problem with just straight up telling these well-meaning folks that home is where he needs me right now. Strangely enough, when he says it, they will back off, when I say the same thing I am guilt-tripped non-stop. I was actually told once my another missionary wife that by not hiring live-in help and going out with the other missionary wives to "witness" at various times throughout the week I was sending people straight to Hell. This post has realllllllyyyyy resonated with me as I have personally walked/am walking this road. - Ruth

Tina said...

Thank you SO much for the encouragement of this post. I have never read your blog before but came from Crystal Paine's "Mom of Littles" blog.

I have been a SAHM for 4 years since my oldest was born. My twin girls are 2 and I'm due in February with number 4. We homeschool the oldest and I CONSTANTLY hear (from well-meaning people like church friends and my mother) that we need to get out more and that the kids need to learn to socialize. I'm sorry, but at 4 and 2, I think the best socialization they can get is NOT going to happen with a bunch of other 4 and 2-year-olds who also don't know how to appropriately behave! And I can see what you're saying because the days we leave the house are the most difficult days. Honestly - it takes us 2 days to recouperate from going to church Sundays sometimes!

My entire family is definitely the most happy and content when we're home. Yet somehow it is so much easier to listen to those voices that say I'm doing my family a disservice by not lining up activity after activity.

I'm rambling, but wanted to let you know that this exhausted mother is incredibly grateful to hear some positive affirmation of what she's doing, instead of constantly hearing what I could be doing differently. God bless.

Tina

Becky said...

Jess, this was just a fantastic post.

I have a question though, for all of you stay at home moms. I have noticed an increasing trend in the SAHM's around me that even though they don't have an outside the home job-they are very often not home. Why is this?

By that I mean, they go to the gym in the morning. Then to a playdate. They have the kids signed up for classes...they attend mom's groups at church.

Basically they fill up their days with activities and things to do in order (whether consciously or unconsciously), to keep themselves busy--and OUTSIDE the home.

I firmly believe in the importance of moms staying at home with their children. But literally I mean STAYING AT HOME!!! I believe that "busying" up your life is the easy way out-when you're shuttling your kids to and from activity after activity, you aren't investing quality time in them. You're chaufering them.

My own opinion is that some moms are doing this because it's easier-it's easier than making that all-encompassing investment of time and energy into your kids.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts!

Crystal @ The Thrifty Mama said...

Wow. Thank you! I'm sure you are going to get more negative comments than you have, but never you mind. This post has already helped more people than you know, and that's just in one day! Thanks for the wonderful post, and I am soooooooooo glad I stopped by your blog today.

It takes women speaking out and standing up for what is right to make a change. I'm sure you knew and were maybe slightly nervous of some of the reactions you would get writing this post. You have heeded your Heavenly Father's urgings and are being rewarded greatly. Thank you for following through and saying what needed to be said. You put into words what I have felt all along, but didn't know how to express it.

I pray God heaps blessings upon blessings on you and your family.

~Crystal (The Thrifty Mama)

Heather M. said...

What a wonderful timely post! Thank you for sharing.

I thought I'd share a link with you to something I read earlier this week that just blessed my heart so much and was written about the same topic.

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2005/05/strange-disappearance.html

craig said...

Thank you, Jess. So much. I just graduated from nursing school, and my husband and I are expecting our first baby in 6 weeks. I agonized over whether or not to stay home full-time with this little one. It seemed that everywhere I turn someone is telling me that I need to get into the work force "keep up my (nursing) skills". It is so frustrating because I don't want to go to work in a hospital away from my little boy. I want to be home when he says his first word, takes his first step, and begins to ask questions about Jesus.

Lately God has really been showing my husband and I that it IS the right decision for me to be at home with our son (and any future children). It is just so refreshing to hear others say something encouraging on the topic. :)

Thank you again!

Allison (It's posted under my husband's name)

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more! I was blessed to have a mom who stayed home full time for most of my first 18 years. It was such wonderful thing to come home to her after school, to have her volunteer in my classrooms, and just *be* there with my brother and I.

My husband and I are making a great effort to keep me at home with our two children. It is important to us and we make it work.

Lately,I've been feeling the pull to actually be at home rather than off having lunch with family members or running errands. I love our home and I love being here - I just need to keep ourselves here more often.

Thanks for a great post!

Rachel W.

Marcia Wilwerding said...

Amen, sister! It's so good to hear your voice on this subject. I'll definitely be linking. :)

Blessings to you and yours!

Julie said...

Jess,
I have never enjoyed a post and comments more than I did this post. I have to say it took guts to post this. I was a SAHM who homeschooled for 18 yrs.(Many years of that my hubby battled Non-hodgkins lymphoma) I DO NOT regret a moment of it. If I had the chance I would do it again. This is a season. When your kids are little you think it will last forever but before you know it they are grown.
Yes there ARE MANY who will disagree with this decision to stay at home. I am sad to say many in my own church didn't think it was necessary. My own MIL told me " dont you feel like you have cobwebs in your brain from not having a JOB". Ohhhh yeah a direct quote. I do understand there are exceptions. I have a tendency to believe these are VERY rare. Most cases of where someone is forced to have to work can usually be traced back to poor decisions in the first place, living beyonds means etc... BUTTT there are valid cases where the mom does have to work. This should only be view as TEMPORARY and SHORT term.
We are called to be the "keepers of the home" plain and simple!.

Sorry to rant on but I want you to be encouraged. Keep posting the truth . God is always lifted up where Truth is revealed.

God Bless My Sister,

Serena said...

Oh, oh, oh. This is wonderful, so well said, and so right on.

Tara said...

Thank you, Jess...this blessed me immensely today. Merry Christmas to you & your precious family!

Jess said...

Melissa asked:
What I have found truly challenging, though, is the perception that saying *anything* about the importance of being at home is somehow a "judgment" on those that don't.

I guess my question is-- how do you witness to others around you about the incredible importance of this call-- RIGHT NOW-- as so many of these mothers are losing precious, precious days in search of "themselves" without alienating the very women I want to reach. I find my silence lends to the typical beliefs (or what I think many women *want* to believe), that I am unique in liking staying at home and its just "not them", or that I didn't have a fulfilling career beforehand so it wasn't hard for me to leave it, or that our financial situation made it "easier" for us, etc, etc, ... Yet, any kind of vocal expression of staying home seems to bring about defensiveness.

--------

Melissa,
I can tell you some ways that I handle this... but I'd love to hear the thoughts from other SAH wives and moms. In fact, if this doesn't generate a good discussion here, then I may move this topic into a main post.

Obviously, online, I write about it. :)

But in real life, I speak highly of motherhood, of children, and of parenting in general. I don't denegrate these things or make jokes about them. I don't talk resentfully about various stages in my kids' lives. I try to speak thankfully about our home and family.

Neither do I angelify (to potentially coin a word) myself or my children. I try to be honest about my weaknesses, about their bad attitudes or the messy house or whatever... so that no one (if I can help it) will walk away with the impression that I just happen to have it all together.

I am learning to publicly reference and express gratitude for the grace of God in this task as much as possible... so that I and everyone around me recognizes that I depend on His grace to be a wife * mother, to homeschool, to keep home, and to be His child.

I try to talk to people where they're at. If someone's not where I'm at, I try to talk to them about the things that do interest them... so that (as much as I can help it) people aren't walking away feeling guilted or judged by me. They obviously see my four kids and if it's brought up, they hear me speak positively about it... so in that way, I'm hopefully presenting the aroma of how God views family.

I think we also (and this can be difficult) need to remember that this is not the gospel. Christ is. The reason I mother as I do is because I believe it is what God requires of me. But my aim is not just to make stuff from scratch, or have twenty-three kids, or to "out-spiritual" someone else. My aim is to get Christ into the hearts and lives of my children, so that they-- as carefully-crafted arrows-- can be shot out further and more effectively into the enemy's territory than I myself can go.

This is my general approach to this. Those who have ears will hear my heart for mothering... but regardless, I try to be all things to all people, which means that I don't ultimately and preeminently preach stay-at-home motherhood.

I try to "preach" Christ, and live as I believe He would have me live, as outlined in His Word. To younger Christian women (particular as I get older), my aim will be to encourage and instruct the younger women in these things, as Paul instructs older women to do. But right now, as a younger woman, I'm just (in my view) supposed to live them.

A final thought: If you are an older woman, then by all means, instruct away! I believe that is what God would have you do. As a younger woman though, we're supposed to live it. Perhaps you could encourage some of the older women to teach on these things?

~Jess

Christina said...

Thanks for putting into words what I often think, but don't always say. We're doing one of the most important jobs in the world... without salary... but the benefits are great!

Jess said...

Anonymous,
You wrote:
I think you will have trouble finding any verses in the bible instructing mothers never to use babysitters, or on how much time to use babysitters. (Go ahead, try.) The truth is that the ideal of motherhood that you describe is a modern invention. In biblical times, it would have been very much acceptable for a woman to have a servant or relative tend to her children while she does other work (crafts, farming, running a business, supervising household servants, etc).
----------

What would have been "acceptable" and what would have been normative are two different things. What we DO see are men who are called by their trades and wives who are either unmentioned, or when mentioned are generally & usually taking care of children & home things. Then there are verses instructing us (as Christian young women) to do this very thing. The overarching pattern is pretty clear.

For example, Hannah... her giving up of Samuel was exceptional, not normative. That's why she's mentioned. Yochabed (mother of Moses), as a nursing mom, was at home with her nursling-- even as a slave woman. Ruth-- the care of her firstborn is mentioned because it's unusual-- Naomi (his grandmother) cared for him because he was sort of a legal "stand-in" for the sons she had lost.

These are mentioned because of their unusual nature.

But please tell me, if this with-your-kids motherhood that I describe is so very unusual, why in the world would God Himself instruct the Israelites to follow Deut. 6? Teaching and training their children as they go along in the way?

We also need to consider the historical "norms" that would have meant that a child would have nursed as long as age 3-6... which would have naturally and normally meant that mothers of young children (which is who my post is talking about) would have been with their children.

Additionally, there are the Proverbs instructing a boy to listen carefully to his mother's instructions. In the wealthiest household certainly of the Bible if not through all of history, when they absolutely could have afforded servants at a ratio of 10:1 to their children, STILL the child was with his mother a large portion of the time, taking in her instructions.

So I think rather than me needing to prove that there's not a prooftext that says, "thou shalt not hire a babysitter" (which, by the way, is not the point of my post), it is rather the other way around. Those who would say that it was normative for mothers of young children to regularly turn them over to a servant or relative are the ones who will have trouble finding biblical support. There may be a Deborah or Lydia here or there (neither of which is mentioned as having young children at home at the time of their industry), but we don't see a Hannah or Mary off in some job while their kids are cared for by others. Not normatively and not prescriptively. It just isn't there.
~Jess

Jess said...

Becky,
What you've asked about was some of what prompted this post. You're right -- it is very easy to busy up your life, even as a stay-home mom.
~Jess

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post it was so encouraging. I have been in thought over this issue of "getting out" being at the bible studies, getting my children to church functions each week. I found it can be stressful (more than usual) to "get out" with four kids. My children do so much better when we stay in our routine at home. I thank you for giving me some peace about the whole issue because the pressure to get out, do the things every other mom does becomes such a burden at times.
Monica

Jess said...

Thank you so much to those of you who e-mailed me privately, linked, or commented here with your encouragement. I'm so thankful to be able to encourage other moms in what can be a wearying job-- even though it is eternally worthwhile.

I pray God's kindness and grace upon you young moms out there-- that you will rejoice in the blessings God has given and that you will be a diligent crafter and sharpener of the little arrows you've been given for this sweet season of young motherhood.

~Jess

Mandi said...

What is so encouraging to me is not only the article but the response to it.
It's so easy to feel like the 'only' one who feels like this is the most important thing I could be doing right now!
Thank you for helping me not feel so alone!

The Antics of the Three 22nds said...

I am proud to call myself a stay at home mom. And I consider myself one in the fullest sense of the words. But I do work outside of the home some. I am a nurse and have a casual, amazingly flexible night shift position.

I NEVER thought I would be working while I had kids, and yet here I am.

I completely agree that that a parent should be home with the kids whenever possible (usually the mom).

But I consider part of my job as a stay at home mom to bring my kids out into the world into CONTROLLED situations and teach them through them. That includes some activities where they are apart from me and some where we are together. Some where we are in our home, some where we are out of it.

My husband and I believe very strongly in getting all of us out during the day at least once. Our kids listen better, behave better and I am a lot more patient when we have a chance to use a different environment for activities.

I was curious what you think about the Proverb 31 woman who is considered a wife of noble character. It appears from the text that she is engaging in many activities, not all of which are in the home.

The Titus 2 chapter can be somewhat confusing to me because it seems to me that people often read into it more than what is actually there. I am not sure how "busy at home" gets so many "extra" rules tagged on to it.

I have noticed though that there are a lot of SAHMs who hardly see their kids at all because of all the programs etc they line everybody up for. In fact, they may see and interact with their children less than they would if they had a job outside the home!

My bottom line? Instead of concentrating on HOW we do it, we just need to encourage each other to invest in our children (not in the world), to love our husbands (not other things we find desirable in the world) and to be content with the family and tasks that God has entrusted to us.

Claire said...

Oh Jess, as usual you hit the nail on the head. As a mom of kids 12 and 14, I sure wish a Christian woman had come along side me and encouraged me STRONGLY to be home with my kids. I have always worked (despite the fact that my husband and I discussed the issue before we got married, and he SAID he wanted me to stay home with our kids), until recently. I worked away from home for several years, but most of the time it was doing transcription at home. I really wouldn't recommend it.

Anyway, I never liked leaving my kids, and really? I didn't have the faith it took to see that God would provide no matter what.

My work recently ran out (loan industry), and finally the husband is strongly discouraging me from working, despite the fact that he has to work a full-time job and side work to make ends *almost* meet.

I'm getting off track. What I want to say is, I have regret. Lots of it. I can't ever get that time back with my kids. I can't ever disciple them when they are little. I truly believe that most families, by cutting back, becoming frugal, etc. could live on one income. It may mean putting off buying a house, or driving used, paid-for cars, and not going to the hair salon, but it is totally worth it.

The value of the investment of time in our kids cannot be understated.

As far as staying at home all the time: I was one who loved taking the kids to the park and story time at the library, but that's about it. That was enough of "getting out" for me. :)

Jess said...

Antics, You wrote:
I was curious what you think about the Proverb 31 woman who is considered a wife of noble character. It appears from the text that she is engaging in many activities, not all of which are in the home.

-----------------
I believe that the passage makes it clear that this is a reflection on the life of the woman when she is old. Her children "rise up to bless her"... her hands have worked long enough to produce "fruit". I could be wrong, but this is not the snapshot of a 22-year-old new bride. Or the young mom with two-year-old twins and a newborn.

I believe Proverbs 31 gives us a pretty complete picture of a woman who has lived a full and godly life.

If you'll notice, I in no place say that it is wrong for a woman to work... what I've said is that I generally believe that the best place for mothers of young children is working at home. When children are older, it may not be as necessary. When children are grown, it (again) may not be necessary. But during the formative years-- when a child is nursing and needing the daily instruction, discipline, and nurturing care of his mother-- I believe it's best for her to be home.

Proverbs 31 doesn't weigh in on this discussion so very much, in my mind at least.
~Jess

Beth said...

Jess, this is a very interesting post. I've been a SAHM for almost 3 yrs now and have another little one the way. I have no issues being a SAHM but I struggle with actually staying home :) I find that when my toddler and I get out once a day for some sort of activity whether it be grocery shopping, a trip to the library, or a get together with friends, we both do better. I'm not opposed to being more of a homebody so to speak (and I expect to be home more w/ a newborn, of course), but what advice would you give me about staying home all day and not going stir-crazy?

Anonymous said...

Great post, but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on getting out in order to allow your children to socialize with other children at playgrounds, playgroups, playdates, classes, etc.
I get LOTS of input on this from my neighbors and family members, and I admit, it does make me feel guilty. As though I'm depriving them of some opportunity. I would happily stay at home myself most of the time, but my girls seem to want to get out, and this pressures me to do outings to playgrounds, etc. that I probably would not choose myself, sigh!
Sandra

Linda said...

Hi, Jess. This was an outstanding post. Thank You for being such an encouragement to moms all over. You couldn't have said it better.

Crystal said...

Thank you SO SO much for such an encouraging blog post! I am a new mom of a 3 month old baby boy, and I have had a lot of difficulty with staying at home. Most of the time, I don't feel productive enough or if I am adding any value to anything. I needed these uplifting words to see that I have the greatest job in the world!

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about feminism is that is is suppose to be about women doing what THEY want. Yet feminists can be so judgmental about stay at homes moms.

I had a successful career as a behavior therapist to autistic children and now I'm pregnant with my first child. I plan to be home for at least the first 4 years. My background is catholic although my parents were not actually religious. They just sent me to catholic school. (I am currently looking for a christian church in Los Angeles to begin attending. Tried a few and wow! Not good experiences with the mega churches here or the 'Hollywood' vibe in several churches in my area.)

My problem has been with my in-laws. They are Lutheran and very active in their church and community. It is obvious they feel I am wasting my time at home and that I should contribute financially. (Although we do not particularly struggle financially, my husband makes 6 figures a year.)

It struck a cord with me when you spoke of 'older women'. I feel I have experienced this firsthand. I respect my mother in law so much but I wish that she could see the value in being home to raise her grandchild. I have felt so much pain from the judgment I've received. Thanks for your encouragement.

KaseyQ said...

Jess, I really appreciate your comments and I give a loud, "AMEN!" to everything you've said! I can see that you are definitely a "bloom where you're planted" kind of person, and I applaud you embracing motherhood so fully. I have found that now that my oldest is in preschool, I do a lot of running around, and I have realized that prioritization is key. I have also tried to make more of an effort to make our home a sanctuary from the world, so that when our family is at home, we feel safe and secure, and when we are not at home, we want to be there. Thanks for the great reminder of what a blessing it is to be a mother. :-)

Carletta said...

Thank you, Jess. I was just told by a friend from church that she had been praying and felt led that I should attend a Bible study with her that is 45 minutes to an hour either way from home.

I really feel led to spend more time reading my Bible at home.

I needed to read this today.

Carletta

Clare said...

WOW! There's very little that I can add to this post - you've really said it all! If we fail as wives and mothers, it just doesn't matter what else we do well! It really bugs me that so many older women have deserted their posts as guardians, watchmen, and mentors to the next generation of young wives and mums coming after them. And to make matters even worse, they discourage these young women from doing well - perhaps it's guilt at having failed their own families? When, oh when, will women get the concept that there is NOTHING in this world more important than being godly wives and mothers, and raising up whatever children the Lord has given them?
Well said, Jess! Bravo!

Jess said...

Beth, Sandra, and others...

Please don't take my comments as a condemnation of any outside-the-home activities. While I think we must be careful and prudent with what we do with our time while our children are young, that does not rule out doing anything outside our homes.

There are absolutely beneficial things (like a Bible study or get-together with a friend, perhaps)-- and some things that are necessary (like grocery shopping).

I in no way want to dictate what someone else would do with their time... only to give an explanation for my own staying at home, and why it's not biblically problematic... and to encourage other moms who are at home to not feel guilty for loving their children and wanting to be with them. And, if I'm honest, another reason why I wrote this post was to try and encourage older Christian women to speak truth from the Word into the lives of younger women instead of encouraging them to fill up their days/afternoons with activities.

So, I'm not going to weigh in on specific "should I do this?" or whatever... those are absolutely decisions to make in consultation with the Word of God and your husband, taking account of the needs of your young children. It's not my place to restrict someone else in their activities... Here, I have just tried to share principles from God's Word regarding mothers of young children, and how I believe they apply in my own life.

Blessings as you consider these things~
~Jess

Earthmama said...

That was fantastic! I really needed to read that today! Thank you!

rebecca said...

Jess, I linked here from Crystal Paine's new site... I'm glad I did. Your post sure made me think. I am a stay at home mom to my eight month old. I love my job. I have a tendency to be a homebody anyway, but sometimes I feel like I need to get out more. I frequently get told that I need to get out more, even by well meaning, godly women. I do find that there is plenty to do here and I often want to "get out" to avoid doing something that needs to be done in my home. Rambling aside (I feel like I could go on for a while) I am glad that I am home with my son. I was glad that my mom was home with my brothers and I, even on the mission field. I want our kids (hopefully we'll have more) to have that same experience. It's hard not to listen to the world, and to believe what they say. But seeing my sons eyes light up when he sees me, and being in on all those "firsts" is SO worth it.

Candice said...

Thanks for the courage to write this, Jess. I am a SAH Homeschooling mom of 6, and, though I have support from family and friends, struggle at times with the balancing act of how much to commit to outside of home.

I appreciate your comment (in the comments section) about giving thankful praise to God when speaking with people about being at home. I think your life and attitude will speak volumes about the value of what you do every day.

DarcyLee said...

Jess,

This is such a great post that young women and mothers need to read! I put a link to this article on my blog. As one of the older women I want to encourage those with young children.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Wow, Jess! I just popped back in to glance at the responses to your post and found that there were 73! Isn't it funny what makes a hot topic? I didn't comment early on because your post was so good...what would be the point? I'm only commenting now because I was struck by the commenter who said:

I think you will have trouble finding any verses in the bible instructing mothers never to use babysitters, or on how much time to use babysitters. (Go ahead, try.) The truth is that the ideal of motherhood that you describe is a modern invention. In biblical times, it would have been very much acceptable for a woman to have a servant or relative tend to her children while she does other work (crafts, farming, running a business, supervising household servants, etc).

To which I respond, really? If we're told to do things that would preclude leaving our kids for long periods of time, doesn't that count? I mean, if I tell my kids to clean out the cupboards at 4:00 doesn't that mean that they can't be watching tv at 4:00? Sometimes I think we choose to delude ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I do not have children yet, but thank you for your post. Its far to easy to believe you have to work to afford what our culture whispers we "need" - thank you.

Mrs. Anna T said...

So much has already been said that I don't really have much to add. Thank you for these excellent points Jess.

Meredith said...

Jess,
That was a great post and it made me think. I work outside the home as a speech therapist to children with multiple disabilities (my daughter comes to work with me). My husband works in full time ministry. Because of the emotionally draining qualities of our work, we tend to lead a very simple life at home. We play together, clean together, talk, cook, eat, etc. We are active in our church, but outside of that we are mostly together at home. If we go out to socialize with friends, one of us goes out after bedtime. I refuse to travel the birthday party circuit or excessive extra curriculars. We also feel that our daughter benefits from the exposure to people of different abilities, cultures, and belifes.

So, we (the three of us) get a lot of time together. When we are home, we are HOME. Home more than I sense from many of my SAH friends who have their kids in 2 different Mother's Day Outs 5 days a week, playgroups, lunches out etc.

So, regardless of my choice to work (I personally feel that it's a calling) I do appreciate what you are saying.

Anonymous said...

It all is true. But I have a question: What can do a working woman with unbeliever husband and one child (teeanger), if she knows, that many things she did badly, that she maybe never will have second baby, that her working outside home is matter of course for his husband, that her husband cannot keep our family´s living from only his pay, etc. ? If the woman see now, that many things of her life could be otherwise, she can thank God for this wisdom and to repent a that mistakes. But the change today can be impossible. Or how is it? Eli

Mrs. Sewell (Professional Wife and SAHM) said...

Jess you have done it again! You have hit the nail on the head! I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 5 month old, and I hear all the time that I "need" to get out of the house and have "me" time. What a bunch of hooey! Thank you so much for posting this and speaking the Truth in Love!

God Bless
Crystal <>< (SAHM)

I am going to reference this blog post in my blog

Pauline said...

Amen Sister! You hit the nail right on the head. It was so encouraging to read your blog. In this society stay-at-home-moms often feel like "outcasts" or "oddballs" because we actually love spending time at home with our kids. Thank you so much for this blog. It has been such an encouragement :)

momstheword said...

This is a beautiful post and I wholeheartedly agree. When my children were younger I began teaching Sunday School, because I saw that other mothers were teaching my children but had noone to teach THEIR children. So the Lord showed me that I needed to step in and teach.

The sad thing is, it seems like so many older women are not doing their God-given responsibility of teaching and discipling the younger women. With some it seems the minute their kids get older or grow up they drop their ministry because they are done....they've "put in their time." I wonder who they were doing it for? Their kids or the Lord?

We are never to be done serving Him. He may call us out of a particular ministry but we are always to use our gifts for Him.

It just seems as if maybe the young moms wouldn't have to be so busy and be asked to serve so much if the older women were continuing their service to the Lord.

Bethany Hudson said...

Jess- First of all, of course I agree with you :) Secondly, I was just reading something that you might find interesting. I haven't done a ton of research, so I won't back this too hard, but it does make a lot of sense.

This one historian I was reading asserts that a lot of this devaluation of the home has to do (ironically) with the Home Economics movement at the turn of the 20th century. According to her, in order to distance themselves from homemakers and carving out a place for them in the world of the "expert" that became so big during the Progressive Era, they started *proving* how experts were better at doing the work of the home than mothers and wives were.

And, here we are today reaping the benefits. Being told that we are incapable of handling being home for long hours and years with our children. Doubting our mothering skills because Brazelton or somebody said we should do it differently. Eating out because we're told we can't cook well enough--or at least relying religiously on recipebooks because we don't trust our own skills. Buying services when we can because we don't think we're good enough at housekeeping--from furnishings and interior decorating to household cleaners and cloth diapers--all things women once did for themselves in their homes.

Anyway, just something I found interesting, and I thought you might, too. These women were very clever in the feminisim--because they never ventured outside the "woman's realm" of the home in their "expertise" and yet they clearly pumped a lot of feminist baggage into the home.

~Bethany

megan stevens said...

First I love what you have written and I completly agree with you. I do have a question though. I'm 21 and not a mother yet... is it still ok for me to be at home? Sometimes I feel like I'm not being useful because I don't work outside the home, plus my husband is encouraging me to work. So should I be working until I have kids? I think that by not working I'm preparing for motherhood but sometimes I'm think I'm being selfish by not working. There is so much pressure from everyone to work until I have children and I'm not sure what the godly thing to do is. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you

Heather said...

hi. I just found your blog a few minutes ago. So far I've read the most recent posts including this one, and I love your blog. I really love this particular post. I am so happy you said these things. I too am a stay at home mom and I'm struggling with the decision to homeschool starting with kindergarten or let her go to a christian school. I am so happy to have found your blog. I added you to my favorites on my blog and I look forward to reading many more of your posts!

Alexandra said...

I for one am happy to be a housewife and mother. My only child--a cute little boy--turned seven today.

We get by just fine on my husband's income and the neighborhood we live in is far from a slum. We rent--it saves money on home maintenance.

If I "get out of the house" it's to do grocery shopping or take my son to the library or to the park to play. Or I'll do something for an hour or so, like walk around downtown, come back and do something around here.

I don't understand people who think being a housewife means being a drudge. I for one enjoy baking bread and making goodies. I enjoy experimenting with new recipes. I'd rather stay here in our apartment than be chained to a production line or cooped up in a cubicle all day--and I say this from firsthand experience.

Anonymous said...

I will admit that I haven't read EVERY comment. I DO agree with you - making home a priority is so important. What do I say to those people (Christians) who say, "Get off of your island!"; "You are so shielded from the real world."; "Your children will never know how to act in the real world - you are crippling them."; "You need to let other people invest in the lives of your children." Seriously - people say this stuff to me. I never know how to respond.

Jess said...

To the recent "Anonymous":

I think these comments when our children are young are, frankly, absurd. But to the homeschooling community in general, there is a tendency for some of these things to be true about our children if we are not careful to get them to a point where they can safely and healthily live IN the world by the time they are adults.

I've proposed my thoughts about that in an article called "Thoughts on Sheltering"... you can look it up on the featured articles on the sidebar. Michael Pearl has also put out a series of articles called "The Cloistered Homeschool Syndrome" that is worth the time of every homeschool mom.

I grew up with kids who were sheltered and shielded from the world even into their teen years, and the results were ATROCIOUS. I absolutely would recommend a process of talking through real life issues, and slowly but surely and intentionally releasing our children so that they can wisely live in the world.

I say all that because I don't know how old your children are. If they are older, I'd encourage you to read the above mentioned articles and consider ways that you can release your children into adulthood in the real world in an intentional way. But if they are younger, I'd just either not say anything, or if I was really being challenged, I'd reference Deut. 6, Proverbs, and other places that show that parents are to be the primary teachers and "input" into their children's lives.

One other random thought-- I was interested to note that the very first mention of motherhood in the bible is when GOD says "a man shall leave his mother" in reference to Adam & Eve's union... from the very beginning-- before there were even children, LEAVING was the whole point. I think we as moms need to remember that, particularly as our children age.

But to moms of young children, these concerns are ridiculous. I don't want other first graders "socializing" my son when he ought to be learning. I can do a much better job socializing my son about real world things he'll encounter as an adult rather than having him exist in a microcosm where Bratz and Wii games are the most important things Thankyouverymuch. :) Plus, God instructs me to be teaching my children diligently. So, that's what I'm doing. The time for outside input will come.

But for now, I get the opportunity to pour in as much of the Lord, His Word, and His wisdom into my children, and I don't want to squander that.
~Jess

Anonymous said...

I'm the most recent anon... my oldest child is 10 (girl).

Jess said:
"...and slowly but surely and intentionally releasing our children so that they can wisely live in the world."

I think the issue is that everyone has their OWN opinion of WHEN to begin slowly and intentionally releasing our children.

Thanks for your thoughts on this. I will look up your article on sheltering.

Mrs. Trixi said...

Wow, what a great post. I can't add anymore to my comment than what has already been said, other than to thank you for this post.

thehomespunheart said...

Hi Jess,

I'm new to your blog and first, where have I been? I immediately subscribed so I can read more!!

This topic has been greatly on my heart lately. And, I will be linking you sometime soon.

I have felt under some criticism lately for being at home. Not choosing to stay home and raise my children, but to stay home as a stay at home mom. Since when is running all around the way to mother?

And, yes - it has disturbed me that this has been within the church.

You said all of this better than I ever could - but said everything that was in my heart. Thank you!

Monica

Ruth said...

Hi Jess,
I'm commenting on your blog for the first time, I think.. I wrote a comment on some other post, but lost it and didn't have time to go back.

I'm a mother of 3, a foreigner in the country where I live, and also a stay at home mother.
I get told I need to get out more.

Because it's illegal to homeschool here (kids get whisked away from their families!), our eldest is in school. I get out to walk him there and pick him up. I go out shopping and to the playground. You know? I'm happy.

Talking about ministry, I get tired of saying I am in full time ministry for the forseeable future. It doesn't mean I can't play the guitar on Sundays, or I can't prepare a Sunday school lesson (for the kids), but I don't like it when people go on and on on how important it is to have " a ministry" other than caring for my family.
To me, if "ministry" is causing me to neglect my family (and I think this should be true for fathers as well), it's not from the Lord. Period.

But then I hold some very unpopular views.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Michelle said...

I read most of the comments, so I hope I am not repeating anyone else's, at least too much! Jess, I think you were right on in your replies to "Beth, etc." I think IN GENERAL, we should NOT try to fill up our time outside, but everyone needs to evaluate their own situation. Considering our outside activities, am I able to be in tune with my families needs, keep the house in reasonable order (including cooking), and stay within budget? For some people, that might mean being home almost all the time. For others, they may be able to be away more. For me, it's somewhere in the middle. It's refreshing for us to get out sometimes--whether to Bible study or play group or the library--and yet if we do that too much, we're all worn out. It also depends on the weather (we live in the midwest, so we're out more in the spring and summer) and the current situation (i.e. illness, pregnancy, specific financial needs, etc.) So, I think we just need to keep that in mind for ourselves and others. Just my 2 cents! :-)

Growing Daily said...

Great post Jess! Thanks for speaking out in boldness! I feel fortunate to have grown up with a mother who loved the Lord and loved being at home with all of her children... what a plumb line in my life that has been for me. However, growing up, everything outside of my home told me to become something bigger and better than a mother... in a sense the world was training my mind to want more for myself than motherhood. Now that I am a mother I would rather be here than anywhere else (can't emphasize that enough!), but I will be honest. All that training from the world can be hard to block out at times. I catch myself adding more and more on my plate and have to constantly say "STOP! Time to get back to the basics! God, Husband, Child!" I doubt that my story is unique, but quite the opposite. It is so important that our young women of today hear the truth and not the world's lies!

Ruth said...

I've read through a lot of the comments and I'd like to add to my first comments. Inspired by The antics of three 22nds:
- " The Titus 2 chapter can be somewhat confusing to me because it seems to me that people often read into it more than what is actually there. I am not sure how "busy at home" gets so many "extra" rules tagged on to it."

I agree wholeheartedly.

- "My bottom line? Instead of concentrating on HOW we do it, we just need to encourage each other to invest in our children (not in the world), to love our husbands (not other things we find desirable in the world) and to be content with the family and tasks that God has entrusted to us."
Very, very wise words.

I think we need to be careful not to add extra laws or make certain Biblical principles more important than the whole counsel of Scripture. For example, why is it that there is so much emphasis placed on mothers not neglecting their children (or indeed, not even leaving them for short times) but there is so little said about fathers who don't have time for their children?

Another point, I think parents have to face decisions like how they are going to provide for the family, how they are going to educate their children (home, school) and who is going to be home with the children, together, in prayer. It could be that a mother has a very well paying job that she could work at part time, say, 2-3 days a week, and would bring in more income than her husband would working full time. Is it not more sensible and beneficial for the family if she works part time and her husband works part time? is it wrong for a father to take on part of the responsibility of child rearing?
Would anyone consider them to be less Godly because of this decision?

Finally, I think we need to be careful judging other people's understanding of parenting. I'm not talking about psycho-babble, but genuine, Christian parents (or even non-Christians for that matter!) who are trying their best to raise their children in a Godly (or respectable) manner. I don't think it's right to go pointing fingers at mothers for driving from one activity to another, for working part time (they could afford to live without her income, shame on her!) or any other reasons. I used to think I was making the best choices and everyone who didn't agree should evaluate their parenting. Then I realized that it was an issue of pride.

Parenting is not an easy job. Judgment only makes us feel more insecure or defensive. Why don't we treat others the way we would like to be treated and elevate the really important things?

I like that you said you try to be all things to all, Jess. Sometimes we get on our soapboxes and forget that our words might be stinging someone and we should just be showing them love and interest in their lives.

Ruth said...

Two last things, then I'll stop posting, promise!

I think we need to bear in mind that people are different and have different personalities, are more or less organized, etc...
Some mothers spend all day at home because they are too disorganized to get out (erm... that is me at times!)

Some mothers are very social and love having people around or going to other people's houses, to the playground, play centers, etc...
Others are homebodies like me. I'm happy at home and have to push myself to go out and meet people.

I don't think the disorganized homebody is a better Christian mother than the organized socialite. As long as they are raising their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and not provoking them to anger, teaching them diligently, etc... they are doing it right.

Jess, I love the pictures on this post. The one of you and your baby could have been taken in my house.
My folded and sorted laundry looks pretty much like your piles on the armchair, lol!

Robin said...

As others have stated, this was a great post. I constantly fight the internal battle myself. My husband and I were married 8 years before our first child was born. We both worked full-time career jobs, and I was very successful at my job. My husband and I spent those 8 married and childless years, plus our dating years, eating out, travelling, and enjoying life. I never made a home, and we didn't really have much of a home life. When my daughter was born, and I decided to stay home, what a culture shock! My SAHM status didn't last, because my husband lost a good job during a bad local economy a few years ago, and it took 3 years to find something that would support the family without my working.

I have 3 children now, ages 8, 6 and 1, and I'm 42 years old. I'm definitely a product of government education and the Martha Stewart/Brazelton/I'm no expert syndrome, doubting myself about everything I do. I've only been home full-time since my youngest was born last year. We started homeschooling 9 months ago. I guess I jumped into more than I could handle all at once, but I'm trying to do what God has called us to do in Deut 6. He didn't say anything about adjusting to life at home first. I'm hoping that, once the adjustment period is over, my children will have learned that perseverance works. :)

While I've been "staying home," there hasn't been much actual staying at home. We spend a lot of time away from the house, because I don't want to deal with housework, I don't have proper food in the house to make a meal, or I've signed my kids up for the latest co-op or homeschooling activity. This post is very timely in my life. I've been considering giving up everything except my daughter's dance classes on Tuesday. We only have one car, which my husband often needs when he travels for work. For other things, like field trips, co-op activities, etc., I have to work around my husband's schedule, and he has to work around ours. While these activities are fun and nice, they do add a level of stress to our family that we don't need. I kind of made up my mind that we would give up everything except dance for the next few months. Our outings will be walks in the neighborhood and playing in the yard. I'm actually looking forward to it. :)

Crystal said...

Great post, Jess. Just wanted to let you know that I linked you in my blog. :)

atara said...

I'm a total homebody so AMEN to you! If I may ask, do you think it's possible to raise a good child in todays public schools? My little one is only a few months old, but my heart is already anxious!

Lauren said...

Jess,

I am a new reader but have really enjoyed your blog thus far. Thanks for the encouragement. It's very timely. I was just talking with a close girlfriend of mine about this struggle the other day and was feeling very defeated. It's good to know I am not crazy because I LIKE being home with my child(ren)!

Thanks,
Lauren

Emma said...

I found this article very interesting. I definitely agree that a mom's place is at home, but I know from experience sometimes God does call us to minister outside of the home. When He does it's our obligation and priviledge to manage our time wisely and always put our family first. I'm a testament that it can be done. You can see my article regaurding ministering and working at home.
I'm blessed to have a boss who allows me to completely schedule my ministry around my families needs first. I never use a babysitter and I coordinate with my husbands schedule so he can disciple the kids while I'm gone.

http://strongquiver.blogspot.com/search/label/Working%20from%20Home%20and%20Homeschooling-Does%20it%20work%3F

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking a lot about this post. I agree so much with what you wrote. I'd like to ask for your prayers for me on this. I am a pastor's wife and do feel the pressures to be more involved. I feel it most from other moms who are somehow "making it work" doing a lot of ministry opportunities and having children. I just can't justify it though! However, I admit that it can be hard to not be a part of the "popular" circles on a Sunday morning where all the women who do various activites throughout the week together hang out. Some of these women are involved in Bible Studies, MOPS, playdates womens retreat committee, womens breakfast coordinators, choir, couples groups, and social nights out. So there is a part of me that does ache when they are all chatting and telling funny stories and being rewarded for being so involved in various things.
Yet I do stay firm. Having worked with the high school kids in my church, I began to see that a lot of our "troubled" kids came from the very homes where the parents were considered leaders in our church. It truly caused me to stop and think. The students we found who were solid in their faith and grounded in true Biblical identity were ones from homes where their parents were not as well recognized within the church. I hold to this at times because those are the kids I'd love for my kids to become!
Also, I hate to "scare" other parents, but this goes with working with high schoolers as well. It is scary some of the things we've heard that have been done to young children within the church by Sunday School teachers, childcare workers, and other Christian parents. They open up about it once they are in high school. Please BE careful moms about who you leave your kids with!!! Don't think just because they are a familiar face in church, they are OK. Maybe I've heard to much, but just please be involved with who is in charge of your children!!!! These kids hurt because of what has happened to them and they show this hurt in various ways. All because mommy needed some "me-time" and was willing to leave her kiddos with anyone.
Wow! I was emotional about feeling left out at the beginning of this comment, but just writing out my reasons has renewed my strength and energy for what I hold as goals! Thank you!
I cried today as a mom called into our local Christian radio station and said that snow days are torture days for moms. How sad!
I found your blog a few weeks ago when we gave up TV! I've spent SO much time reading your various links and have been incredibly BLESSED by them. My husband is actually going to use some of them when he preaches his pro-life message on Sanctity of Life Sunday so THANKS!

Monica said...

Thank you so much for this!!! I have been having the same thoughts recently. And I have been taking steps to be at home more. I have had to start saying "no" to more and have unfortunately felt some judgment for that from the very people that should be mentors. But I have done so with peace in my heart knowing that I am doing what God would have me to do. I am also overseas with a deployed husband. So often I hear about how I should get out more and receive praise when I am out without the children. I wish more people understand that my children are not a burden for me but it is when I am with them, when I am being a "keeper" of my more that I am content.

Home School Dawn said...

Very well said! I am linking this post to my blog and adding you to my blog roll.

Blessings,
Dawn

redhed said...

Thank you SO much for this post! I am a first time mom to a 5mo old. I, too, have felt pressure, probably mostly from myself, but also from a few of my non-christian friends to have "time for myself". And, at first I bought into the lie thinking that I NEEDED to get out of the house. This was especially hard for me since I'm traditionally a "social butterfly", if you will! ;) But, I made the decision to breastfeed and that definitly takes commitment. After one LONG(4hrs) outing that I had been convinced that I NEEDED and coming home to a sad baby and husband I vowed not to leave like that again - which I finally was comfortable with! What was the point?!? This is a new season of my life and I realized that it's OK to not HAVE to leave the house! I LOVE being at home and have found my purpose for this time of my life! And this post totally confirmed it!! Thank you, thank you, thank you and God bless!!

Tracey McBride said...

Perfectly said. I absolutely agree. Thank you for expressing what so many of us feel so beautifully and succinctly. I hope this post spreads far and wide. Blessings, best thoughts and thanks.
Warmly,
Tracey

Linds said...

Thanks for this post.

Jennifer F. said...

Jess,

You are a very wise young woman. I have definitely struggled personally between my desire to be a stay-at-home mom (since I was a child) and the pressure to use my intelligence to "contribute to society". It was only now, with the birth of my third child, that I've finally taken the time to listen to what scripture says about motherhood, and not get all defensive, and I realize what an incredible opportunity, challenge, and service it is to serve God and "contribute to society" to boot - honestly, could there be a better contribution to society than well-loved, well-adjusted future adults? . For every reader who has not "heard the whispering voices" I have heard them plenty of times for all of us. Choosing to stay home is definitely a sacrifice- my husband is NOT raking in the dough, we have one very cheap vehicle, no cable tv, we don't run the air conditioner, clothes dryer, or dishwasher unless we're in a real bind, we can't eat out on a whim, all of our clothes are hand-me-downs (including mine and my husband's), or are hand-made. We haven't moved to a cheaper city yet, but it's an option. Do I wish I had these luxuries? Sometimes, but I am not willing to pay the true cost of these things. I know a lot of friends who say they'd love to stay home, but can't afford it (as if to say, by corrollary that my family can - well obviously we can, we're not doing this on a bank loan), I don't know what their husbands' incomes are, but they definitely have a lot more *stuff* than we do.

I know that there are people who truly can not afford to stay with their kids, but I think this speaks to bigger societal problems and doesn't negate the reality that the best thing for kids is a mom at home.
In fact, I think that a lot of the societal problems that make it so much harder for people to make ends meet are a result of our two-income society. That's a whole other essay...

Anyway, I've gone on much too long here, when all I really wanted to say was AMEN! to your excellent post. Enjoy your houseful of kiddies and keep up the good work,

Jennifer in Toronto

RockerWife said...

Excellent post and much wisdom for a young Mom. I have always been a stay at home Mom and have 2 grown, flown the nest kids and 2 still at home. God called ME to raise them and no one else (cept their Dad). I sometimes wish I had two more young ones! God bless you. Great blog.

~Pamela

Mother Hen said...

Thanks for the great, great exhortation, Jess. I wrote a short post about family and feminism that fits well with what you've said here.
http://shipfullofpirates.com/2008/12/19/family/

Alison said...

THANK YOU!! I needed to hear this. I have always believed in my head that it's good to be at home with my kids (my own mom set a great example), but there are so many pulls to do so many "good" things. I realized that practically, I DON'T think it's the best thing to be a "keeper at home". Your post was very encouraging--my husband and kids thank you as well. :)

Blue Castle said...

This is a wonderful post. I too, struggle with the feeling of "needing to get out", but at the same time, I know my place is really at home. It is also surprising how many people look at me pityingly and tell me I really do need to find "outside" interests and get out more. As though I'm wasting myself by staying home.

Your post was eloquent and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you.

Mom to Five said...

As a SAHM of 5 young children I want to commend you for writing this courageous post. Unfortunately we do live in an era where the SAHM in undervalued and where staying at home is not a profession that is seen as worthy. When faced with the decision of staying at home or working after the birth of my first daughter, a very wise woman told me the following: "You will never look back and say to yourself Oh I wish I had worked more. But you will always look at your children and think if I would only have spent more time with them". My husband and I have made many worthy sacrifices for our family and have never felt that God would want us to raise our children in any other way. Kudos to this post. God bless you.

Sunday said...

Hello Jess! I'm a new reader. I found your blog through a link from LAF. I'm also a recovering feminist who has struggled greatly with the sacrifices neccessary for intentional motherhood. It's been a long hard road but God has blessed me in so many ways.

My simple thought is this...is it eternal? Is my career eternal? Will I be held accountable before God for the time and energy I put in pursuing my Master's Degree? No. The things that matter the most aren't things (accolades, money, stuff, feeling good about myself, yadda, yadda, yadda) but rather are the eternal relationships that God has bestowed to me as a steward. I will be held accountable for how I invested in my children. I choose to not lose one precious moment if at possible.

Thanks for posting this! It's been my heart's cry for four years. God continues to challenge me to look to what is eternal and choose the road of sanctification. My flesh would love to have a career where people think I'm great, I get a paycheck, and I have "freedom" but the Holy Spirit reminds me that it would be empty.

Sunday

BarbaraLee said...

I have made the mistake of working o/s the home. But I sure enjoyed coming home.
These days it is a struggle b/c you have society telling your children how to live too. Most of them are lazy and don't want to take responsiblity for themselves. They think the new pres. is going to take care of them. Almost like they don't have to work to support a family. It is sad that they think this way. Men thrive on earning a living to support their families. That is the only thing that I can see come from this economy. Women come home.

My life as a Home Engineer said...

Thank you so much for this post. My sister in law just sent me a link to your blog and I really needed to read this right now. I'm a stay at home wife and mother battling with the "You need to get out more" comments and I'll admit at times I do feel inadequate.

It's funny because I was just praying about whether I'm doing enough. I just asked God for guidance as to whether I should put my son in more activities (I have 2 children - a son who's 2 and a daughter who's 7 months). and then I came upon this post.

Thank you so much for reminding me how important our work is as wives and mothers. And how I'm doing exactly what God would have me to do by being here.

God Bless you and your family
LaToya

Michelle M. said...

This is my first visit to your blog, and I loved that post. I completely agree with what you said. Thanks for sharing!!

Mary said...

I so appreciated your post. It was so encouraging to me.

Years ago as a young wife who was told she would likely remain childless, I adapted to the feminist view of having a work mentality. That is, until we decided to adopt - which was seven years into our marriage. We adopted our first son, who was four at the time, in 2000 and yet I still worked part-time - often dragging him with me. Thankfully he was welcome.

In 2003 we adopted a sibling group of four children, the oldest of whom was 7, so I finally came home because of the exhorbitant cost of daycare. I was constantly encouraged by the case workers to go ahead and enroll the children in day care, preschools and school. I didn't feel right about it though, because some of our children had some attachment issues. It did not make sense to me to send them off away from me if they needed to get comfortable around me and learn to trust and love me. So I politely refused and home they stayed.

In 2004 we found ourselves finally and quite unexpectedly expecting our first birth child. I had to learn to sit still at home because I was sick for the entire pregnancy, and I was on bed-rest for the last six weeks before Samuel was born. At that point I started shifting a lot of my thinking, and prayed that I could stay home and be content. However, I did not receive much encouragement (for staying at home or trying to homeschool).

Now I am expecting our third biological child in July, after losing our second early in my last pregnancy, and am thrilled to be so blessed that I can stay at home with my children and try to make my home a haven for my family. The Lord has always been faithful to us, and I am grateful for the chance to really minister to the needs of my husband and my children!

BREE said...

I just want to say THANK YOU for posting this. It is so true!

I, personally, have only met a handful of people (if that) in "real life" that believe these things about mothering, which is so sad. The rest think that I am crazy. If for no other reason than living on one income in this kind of econonmy! LOL. As if I'm lacking as a woman because I'm not out there providing along side my husband in the work force.

And we can't forget to acknowledge our godly husbands and their wisdom for enabling us to act on God's will for our lives (as well as our children's!) by supporting our endeavors at home!

It's so encouraging to see other women out there living life the way God intended young mother's to, and not saying sorry because of it!

Heidi Stone said...

Wow, I am so excited that I found your blog! Thank you very much for this post! I may just be linking to you often. :)

Heidi

Sara said...

Thanks for posting this!
I am a "recovering feminist" too, and anyone who thinks feminism doesn't teach this doesn't know feminism. A good collection of quotes from major feminists can be found at: http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/artman/publish/LAF_Theme_Articles_13/You_Don_t_Know_Feminism_744100744.shtml

I also had to comment on the "poorest of the poor". When I chose to stay home, I knew we would be low-income. And yet we have never lived in dangerous neighborhoods or gone without essentials. Homeschooling students have similar outcomes regardless of family income or education, where in public schools (or even private to some extent) income is very largely affected by those factors. Being a stay at home mom "protects" your children, if you will, against a lot of the negative effects of beign lower-income because it is often the choices and the lifestyle due to that that cause the harm, and not some magical damage caused by having a lower number in the checking account! (I would highly recommend the book "Home by Choice"). Our society really needs to realize that it is neither a virtue to be well off nor a bad thing to be lower-income.
Also, it is the lowest income families, ironically, where a second income usually ends up being less helpful to the household by the time the lower amount earned goes towards transportation, child care, meals out of home, increased health care costs (less likely to breastfeed, children have more exposure to diseases, etc.) I totally agree wtih a living wage, improving health care, etc. But I tend to think that those things can be achieved better by getting rid of government paid child care, child care tax credits (not deductions- credits), the immense amount of money that gets poured into a failing public school system, and all the ways our government chooses to subsidize, at the cost of those who stay home, those who put their children in the care of others for large amounts of their waking hours.

Emma said...

Hi just thought I'd let you know I linked to my site and I commented on your article here http://strongquiver.blogspot.com/2008/12/making-home-combating-you-should-get.html

Emma

elizabeth said...

This was an interesting and well-written post, and I am glad that you are confident and secure in your choices for you and your family. However, as a Christian, I believe in a personal relationship with God (informed and fed by thoughtful readings of the Bible), and as such, I don't really see a one-sized-fits-all approach to such complex decisions such as parenting, income earning, etc.

Anyway, what I am saying is that while you may be disagreeing with the messages that "they" are telling us as mothers, I hear a similar "they" message here. I don't know whether you think you really have the answer for all mothers, or whether you are encouraging us to try to decern (sp?) what God is encouraging and equipping us to do. My personal belief is that God created us as individuals with different needs and abilities, and we should strive our utmost to do what HE wants us to do, but what that looks like from person-to-person might change.

Ashley L said...

Well, it looks like you already have about a billion comments on this post, but I just had to tell you also that I love it. You really should write a book!!! Thank you for the encouragement and affirmation of what I think we as moms often feel deeply in our hearts as truth, but suffer the effects of the all out attack on this view on motherhood. I have seriously read this post several times this week, and am so encouraged by it and have delighted and felt fulfilled all the more in my role as a mother by being encouraged by your words. Thank you!