I saw a fascinating video the other day of Mayim Bialik, the famously crunchy, extreme-attachment-parenting mother with a phD and a Big Bang Theory cult following. In the video, Mayim explains and defends her decision to stay at home with her children while they were young. What strikes me about her demeanor is that she seems a bit apologetic, saying many times during the course of her monologue that staying home with her children was her personal choice that was right for her at the time and might not be right for everyone.
As I watched, I recognized the hesitation there, the sense that we stay-at-home moms are really not allowed to talk about the benefits of staying home with our kids, for fear that we might make another mother who chooses to work or has to work feel guilty or judged. It’s difficult for a mother like me to extol in the public square all the great things about staying home with children. Mom guilt is such an extreme handicap for all of us that I would never want to pile more of that onto my fellow mothers. Yet, the world needs women who are advocates for the stay-at-home life. Why? Because society needs dynamic women in the home as much as it needs dynamic women in the boardroom.
As a child I learned a lot about the benefits of having one of those dynamic women pouring all of her energies into our family and home. My mother was always available to me. She dedicated her creativity and her brain power to making our home a warm, neat, and welcoming place to be. My mom had lots of interests when I was a kid. She was an avid reader, a brilliant decorator, a great photographer, and she even dabbled in drawing and painting and was quite gifted. My mother made every holiday great fun, and the woman cooked several meals a day most every day. She encouraged me in my faith and encouraged me in every other way, too.
Now, I’m not saying that my mother couldn’t have done all of those things while she worked outside of our home. But, I am saying that they would have been infinitely harder for her to accomplish. She made the decision, as many do, to sacrifice any accolades she could have received from a career, to give up the clothing budget that her working friends had, to pinch pennies and run a tight ship so that our family could have what we wanted and needed. And then she threw herself into our family with her whole heart and mind. I will forever be grateful to her for that.
My mom gave me the gift of herself undivided. And what a gift she was (and is). Her children rise up and call her blessed.
These are all ideas that are quite taboo to talk about in our diverse society, where women follow lots of different and good paths. Not everyone has the desire or the financial ability to stay at home. But, I want to encourage those women who are thinking about becoming stay-at-home moms. Maybe you are looking at your budget trying to decide if you can make it on one income. Maybe you are a young woman and the world is telling you that career is everything, but all you want to do is stay home with babies someday.
To you stay-at-home hopefuls, I say go for it. As one who is living the double blessing of having had a mom at home and being a mom at home, I can tell you that it is an absolute treasure of a life. I am so grateful to God for every year that Chad and I can make this work.
To all of you working mamas out there, God bless you. I have no idea how you do what you do, but I know that you love your families fiercely and you fight hard to be everything to everyone who needs you. I admire you, and our world would be a lesser place without you.
Emerald made me a card this weekend, saying she loves it that I “didn’t want a job.” I have never specifically talked with her about being a stay-at-home mom, but at seven years old she is already understanding a little bit of my heart when it comes to our family. I don’t know if she’ll wind up being the PTO President or a CEO, but if she chooses to stay home with babies, I pray that she will find in it the complete joy that I have. Because this world needs kind and artistic and smart and funny women like her in the kitchens and the laundry rooms and the carpool lines, and there is nothing at all wrong with her giving herself to her family, undivided.