Hello! I, too, am a grateful SAHM. But, I am in what seems to be a very small group of SAHMs with older children (one tween and one teen) who does not homeschool. Lately, I’ve had several conversations with moms my age who’ve said, “What would I do with myself if I didn’t work?” I, personally, don’t have any problem finding things to do (two words: band mom). But what is your perspective on this subject? It seems it’s acceptable to be a SAHM of babies: so much to do there. And of preschool and elementary kids: hello, PTA mom! But I’m feeling a little lonely here in SAHM/public-school/older children land! 🙂
Well, that is a question that I think most stay at home moms think about and may never actually discuss. Yet, it is something that I have often asked other stay at home moms about because I am interested in their answer and would like to see what plan they have for life.
In today’s society, women are pressured to have a duality that can often be frustrating. They are supposed to be strong, but feminine. The strength that they are expected to have is an emasculating strength (it takes away from our men) that says things like “I don’t need a man to be ok,” or “I will pursue my career and take care of my family.” While there isn’t anything wrong with these statements in themselves, the implication is that the woman is on an island by herself, having to make decisions for herself and her family because there may be an absence of a man or the man might not be present, even when he is. This lack of trust in the men that are in our lives, socially, leads the 21 century woman to struggle with being dedicated to her God, her husband, her children, her church, her career, and so much more.
All of these pressures and ideas lead to the destruction of the family. Who has time and energy to tend to the needs of the family, ward off dangers, and nurture home life, when they are bombarded with these types of ideas and worries.?
I have said all of this because I believe it is at the root of why we struggle with these questions in the first place.
When I first became a mother, I worked.
You know, I need to back up a bit…before I became a mother, I worked.
I had seen my mother work my whole life and I assumed that this was what I was supposed to do. She took care of me and worked; and I never saw nor understood her struggle. That “struggle” would become very apparent as my husband and I came to expect our first child.
I was in the military and was expected to do everything that I did before I was pregnant. Now, if you have never been in the military, you might be thinking, “yes, you should be able to do it all.” However, I want to challenge your thinking a moment and place you in my pre-mother, military woman, new wife shoes…
As a new wife, I had not yet learned the ins and outs of taking care of my home, nurturing my marriage, or meeting the needs of my husband. I was supposed to be learning how to maintain my home and make it a place that he wanted to come home to. It was supposed to be a sanctuary where he could unwind after work and our marriage could grow; a safe haven for me and my young family. Instead of doing what I was called to do, I was trying to be like my mother, who was a single woman and mother. I was nurturing myself, keeping my house clean, preparing for work , and taking care of me. I took tended to my husband and children, but I was very distracted. This me, had no clue…
As we came to expect our first child, the military did not tell me that I would not have to get up at 6am to go do physical training. By physical training, I mean run, do crunches, and even push-ups until my belly was too big to do so. Now this sounds great to the superstar mommy that wants to get back in a bikini right when she has the baby. She gets on stage and dances, like she has no morning sickness. Yet I am not, nor have I ever been that woman. I had to continue to do most of the things I had done prior to expecting a child.
I was 19-year-old GI Jane, but I was tired moody, with occasional morning sickness and life confusion. I began to wonder, at 3am as I put on my uniform to report for a urinalysis, how anyone could or would expect me to be a mother and a wife while being in the military. I saw mothers that had 6 month old children deploy, leave the country for one year or more to fulfill military duty. Fulfilling their duty to the country meant leaving their children with families and friends. My frustration with all that I was handling led me to realize that I could not do all of this.
By this, I meant be everything to everyone. A few years later, I had gotten out of the military, I was pregnant with our second child, and trying to adjust again. I had worked outside of the military, placed my oldest son in daycare and left many of my relational needs with my husband stagnant. I did not have time to nurture a healthy relationship with my son or my husband because I was so busy working and trying to meet the worldly standard of “becoming somebody.” Now don’t get me wrong, I tried to maintain my relationship with them…I did what I knew to do, but I was divided. I was trying to focus on to many things at one time
The pregnancy of my second child led me to decide that it was time for me to put my family first. The needs of my family and the pressure of the worldly standard were in competition due to my desire to be a godly woman, wife, and mother. I could not see how I could do it all without not doing it all. Something would be lacking. I had to make the decision. I decided to pursue my degree in preparation for the future, but I would remain conscious of the needs of my family. More than I would be conscious of their needs, I would tend to them.
That was 9 years ago. I have had three more children since then and seen my family grow in such great measure. I have a healthy relationship with my husband that I believe we are both pleased with, although always a work in progress. 🙂 I have, with much struggle completed my bachelors degree; and have had to be dedicated with a focus on what’s important, as I walk through this current season of working on my masters degree. This personal history of struggling within myself to do it all has stayed with me throughout the years. Some women can do it all, but I have found within myself that I cannot be the mother, wife, and woman of God that I desire to be or that God wants me to be if I am also a full-time working woman.
My decision has been a progress. Currently I have three of my four in school. My fourth child is two years old. However, I have found that my 12, 8, and 6 year olds have needed me to be able to be available to them during school hours and when they get home. If I were working outside of the home, they would not be able to have my full attention, neither would my husband.
As a homemaker, there are a lot of things that go into maintaining my home and relationships with my family. The culture is crumbling, but my family has a strong foundation in Christ, so that they can be people of integrity. I admire the Proverbs 31 woman who did it all, but I have to know my limitations and do what I can.
For each woman, that will look differently. Currently I am working on my masters degree in Life Coaching, for this very reason. One of my desires is to help women transition in and out of the workplace in a way that they find will meet the needs of their families and the desires of their hearts. Part of my journey is maintaining a balance that allows me to be available to my family and to be effective in my education. My education is preparation for the next season of my life, but it should not take away from the season that I am in.
I believe that it takes great strength to be both of these women, a homemaker and a full-time working mother. We just have to know our limitations and understand the calling that God has given each one of us. For me, I feel that I sacrifice something to do everything. When I am being paid to work outside of my home, my family suffers and I am not answering my first callings as a godly woman, wife, and mother.
I do not struggle with not knowing what to do while I am at home. I stay very busy with my education, my hobbies, the actual homemaking process, and maintenance of my relationships. Although, this frame of mind is a struggle because I am a 21st century woman, I seek to be pleasing to God in all that I do and look for his guidance. There may come a time where I will be a full-time working woman, but God will work that out.
For the woman who is reading this, I want to say that things happen in life that show us what our families need. There may come a time when you will need to help out in various ways, by working, but there will be other times when you will need to be to your family, what no one else can be. This season is between you, God, and your husband. Don’t allow anyone to put pressure on you to be on either side of this equation. Let God lead you. Pay attention to the needs of your family. Do you see, as I did, that my relationship with my husband would have been better if I weren’t distracted with the needs of my job? Do you see your children wanting you to be more involved or do they need you at school? Are you available to help with homework and to be at the games? If you find that you can do it all and still have peace…do it. However, if you struggle with any aspect of what I am saying, take the time to pray, talk to your husband, and decide what is best for your family.
Each season will have its beginning and will come to an end.
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven
I hope this has answered your question. 🙂
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