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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Coming home to motherhood

Last week on "Home School Heartbeat", Mike Smith of the HSDLA (Home School Legal Defense Association) had some encouraging words for working mothers who “come home” to be stay-at-home moms. Audio links and transcripts of the five radio spots can be found here.

Smith made several important points:

Women “coming home” from the workforce “still face pressures and opposition from those who demand that all women strive to attain what they deem "equal" footing with men.” (from “Defining a Mother’s Job,”emphasis added)

“One former career woman, Danielle Crittenden, left her job as a successful Washington, DC journalist to raise her children at home. She says stay-at-home moms often feel a loss of identity when they leave the workforce and have difficulty explaining their new job to people still climbing the corporate ladder.” (emphasis added)

States Smith, “A job in the corporate workforce should not be elevated above motherhood. The two cannot be compared.” While this may be true in terms of equality, the two should be compared in terms of the effects both career and motherhood can have on a mother's life and the lives of her family members. Every parent ought to examine these things honestly, regardless of what friends may be doing or what other family members may say. Family and friends can prove a very tough tide to buck, though, which is why we need more support groups like Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) and Hearts at Home.

Smith makes the point that “equality” is misunderstood as being “egalitarianism” in today’s society, and I concur. I certainly was brought up with an egalitarian mindset and am still working to overcome it. It's unfortunate that the egalitarian notion fails to account for the fact that men cannot bear and nurse children nor otherwise be mothers, and mothers cannot be fathers.

I bring all this up in the wake of the “Mommy Madness” uproar in the blogosphere, during which “whining mommies” were soundly rebuked and sent to their rooms without supper. Of course America does not need more daycare, and those striving, perfectionistic mad-mommies would do well to learn that neither perfect formulaic mothering nor “having it all” are what it’s all about. But someone must show them this. Someone must help them adjust their lifestyle patterns and thinking, which is surely no easy feat. Merely patronizing these women with glib “get over it” remarks helps no one.

The biggest problem I had with the “Mommy Madness” article was that discussion of unnecessary pressures and struggles obscured the unavoidable pressures and struggles mothers face. Most mothers probably struggle somewhere in-between the two extremes, with a mixture of both types.

I am happy to see both Smith and Jill Savage, in this interview with Cindy Swanson, address the financial ramifications of Mom (or Dad) staying at home. It’s no myth that some families are financially blessed in ways that others are not, through no virtue or fault of their own. Lifestyle concerns may run deep into issues of sacrifice and necessity. The decisions are often complicated.

Smith also speaks to husbands, encouraging them to support their stay-at-home wives as much as possible. Contrary to criticism garnered by the following statement in "Mommy Madness," this encouragement is much needed: “Women told me of their exhaustion and depression, and of their frustrations with the "uselessness" of their husbands.” The criticism in effect pooh-poohed the suggestion that there actually are husbands/dads out there who do not adequately support their wives. But of course there are. They may not intend to be unsupportive, but their own expectations and difficulties prevent them from doing what is needed.

To Smith’s list of ways dads can help moms, I would add the following: a) be educated in parenting issues, b) be attentive, and c) take your wife’s requests/complaints seriously. In motherhood especially, a wife needs her husband to honor Ephesians 5:28.

Motherhood may take the can-do-type woman to depths of need she's never before experienced. This may be hard for both her and her husband to accept, let alone adjust to. But accept they must, as ought the Christian community. As ought society in general. Let us show the way!


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