Tuesday, September 9, 2014

on being a working mom

This has been sitting heavily on my heart the last few months as I've heard some comments made by stay at home moms aimed towards both myself and some of my friends who are (Christian) working moms. I struggled to find the right words to share, but after some time to reflect I think I'm ready.

I think there's a gross cultural misinterpretation of the Bible that often results in Christian females (which is kind of ironic given the growing popularity of feminism, especially in Christian circles, as of late) shaming fellow Christian females for working when they have children in the home.

For our particular situation, even if I wanted to be a stay at home mom, it just would not be financially possible. If we were to go that route we would certainly require public assistance and I know there's an entirely different (gross) perception of individuals needing public assistance held by a lot of the church community. That being said, Jon and I have discussed my working outside of the home at length since he switched to being a stay at home dad and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be a very good stay at home mom. It's not that I don't love Elden or being a nurturer to him, but I am just not very good at the hands-on learning and stimulation thing. I try to get down and play with him when he asks or draw him what he requests but it's not something I can really do for a long period of time. Is it selfish? Kind of. But that's just not how I was wired. Jon, on the other hand, thrives with little people. Personally, I attribute that to his introversion--it's a lot easier to talk to a kid than an adult. There's no judgement, no pressure to know all the facts, but I digress. In any case, Elden has absolutely grown leaps and bounds in the few months since Jon started staying home with him during the week. He can count to 11, say his ABC's, and is blowing us away by the things he is capable of understanding. I'd be totally lying if I said I thought he would be thriving this much if I were to stay home.

I think a lot of the 'women must stay home with their children' notion is just passed down by word of mouth--I once sat through a sermon as a high schooler that went so far as to say a husband who does not provide for his family financially is putting undue stress on his wife and is sinning. Titus 2:4-5 is often taken as the mantra of the few who can actually point to scripture that supports the stay at home mom notion. Often overlooked, however, is the wife of noble character (Proverbs 31:10-31). That wife is clearly a hard worker--she even buys property with her own earnings. She cares for her children, husband and house and both her children and husband praise her. She was clearly, at least to some extent, a working mom and it worked for their family. And the Bible is totally cool with it, even going so far as to call it noble. 

Onto the whole Jon being a stay at home dad thing: I know he has struggled immensely with the cultural perceptions this entails, but especially the Christian perception of his new role in our family. I've asked him to write a post for here about how Christians often view stay at home fathers and he is considering it. But in case he decides not to (and to show a little bit of gratitude for all he does in our family) I wanted to make it a point that just because his main role in our family is inside our house that does not make him any less of a leader of our family (Ephesians 5:23). He teaches Elden (and me!) so much each day about life, Christianity, having a servant's heart, strength, perseverance, humility, and love that it really blows me away. Our son is absolutely thriving in his care. I still completely respect his opinions and decisions about finances and the big life decisions. Does he help around the house? Absolutely. Does that somehow make him less of a man? I'd say it's the opposite--he is tasked with loving me (Ephesians 5:28) and he does so by decreasing the burden of our home responsibilities. And to top it all off--he does still work on the weekends to help with finances. This is a man who works 7 days a week--five just happen to be in the home. Furthermore, he mentioned it during Sunday school (we were talking about our identity being in Christ and how that comes into play in the workplace) this week, but a Christian's identity shouldn't be their occupation; an extreme example would be if someone asked you what you did for a living, your natural response should be, "I am a follower of Christ... who happens to [teach/work as an engineer/stay at home parent/etc.]." This is radical thinking and just another way that Jon amazes me day in and day out with his wisdom.

I know our situation is different than others, such as both parents working with childcare being solely outside of the home. I'm not saying that anything in particular is more right in the eyes of God--both parents working, one parent working, etc. What I'm saying is that we need to stop shaming one another for making decisions that work well for our families since there's no real Biblical support to back up the shame. I choose to work. I love my husband and children fiercely. I'd like to think they know that. My identity is in Christ. I am not any less of a Christian or wife or mother for making the decision to provide for my family financially. So please stop treating me like I'm not doing "the right thing."

3 comments:

  1. Dear Danielle,

    Mom and I are so amazed by the way that you and Jon have chosen to live your lives. First and foremost, you have love in your hearts. You have chosen to do what is best for your family - out of love. Mom and I are proud of Jon, taking on the role of the stay-at-home dad. It DOES take a real MAN to accept the responsibilities that come with that role.

    Mom and I look forward to the birth of baby "Flip #2" and the special plan that God has in your lives as you serve Him in your faith, family and your work.

    Try to ignore the "haters" in the world who masquerade as "concerned" Christians and live your lives filled with the love and joy that Jesus want's so much your family.

    Love,

    Dad

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  2. I had no idea this was even a thing. So sorry you're dealing with those attitudes! Honestly, carrying a parent's whole identity is so stressful for a child, and you should feel zero guilt about needing more than that to feel good about your own. There are so many ways to support your family besides staying at home OR providing financially -- like modeling a full life, a balanced relationship and a driven, curious spirit. Go girl, for speaking your truth and for doing what's best for your brood.

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  3. AMEN Dani!!! You will never ever make everyone happy. Stay strong in your identity in Christ, love strongly and have peace!!! Soooo proud of you. Love Audra

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