Friday, April 13, 2012

Stay-At-Home Mom is an Oxymoron

I wasn't going to go there. I really wasn't.


Oh, you know...the foxhole in the Mommy Wars.

I really don't have the time. Usually.

I usually have a laundry room popping with unclean, unfolded, pure-wrinkled, unrotated clothing. I have a blind, deaf dog who wanders into the woods and has to be bathed so that fleas and ticks don't find their way on the unwashed (sometimes unmade) bedding. I have school papers to check and correct. I have children to bring to dance and ball practice and play dates because (God forbid!) they don't get proper socialization (God forbid!). I have supper to fix. Easter baskets and birthday parties to shop for. A wedding (a week from today) to prepare for (so next week I am completely planning to be the working employee of my son and his fiancee'---willingly so) and schedule haircuts and shoe shopping.

But, today I have a chunk of time to write so, maybe I will go there. :-)

I'm also utterly exhausted with the whole debate.

My first thought when I read this was "Really!?! You've got to be kidding me! What century are we in again?"

And I applauded Mitt Romney's outstanding sense and sensibility of his wife's work: "My job is temporary...Your job is a forever job that's going to bring forever happiness..."

Takes a true man to acknowledge that. A sentiment such as this is sweeter to any wife than a bouquet of flowers. Flowers fade and die. Words of praise speak forever to the heart.

At a wedding a fews years back, when someone complimented my cousin on the way his children turned out, my cousin gave a lovely kudos to his wife, and she was no where within earshot. "She was the one home with them most of the time," he said. "She did a very good job."

Never once did he add that without him working to provide for their family, she couldn't have stayed home and done the job she did. Never once did he add that she worked for a time outside the home. Never once did he try to expand upon his place in the home. He didn't have to. By his words of praise, we knew that his wife had not raised those children single-handedly.

It was the work of both parents.

Like a great dancing couple, a wonderful partner always compliments his partner and, by doing so and not seeking any personal praise, he draws attention to the couple as a whole instead of to the individual who is only half of the whole and incomplete during the dance.

So what work do stay-at-home moms actually do when, to the world at large, it looks as though we aren't doing anything? What contribution do we give? What gain do we contribute?

Raising decent, law-abiding, hard-working, trust-worthy citizens and Christians men and women to be sent into the world is of utmost value and importance! If we do this we have contributed to society in a HUGE way, a very important way.

This is not to say that moms who work outside the home do not contribute these same decent, law-abiding, hard-working, trust-worthy sons and daughters out into the world. Either way it is a sacrifice fought and hard-earned. It is not an easy task and so parents should unite no matter where their workplace is, no matter if they are the stay-at-home mother fully home or the work-outside-the home mother fully present.

The world's view that stay-at-home moms don't "do" anything to benefit society hangs over the head of my generation. The very term "stay-at-home mom" is an oxymoron in today's world. It voids us of anything we do "do". The stay-at-home mom that people grit their teeth over is the Susie Homemaker icon made famous by the media circus in the 1950's.

I've talked to my grandmother who raised two children in the 1940s and 1950s. Susie Homemaker never existed.

Women left the homes because they knew she didn't exist. They knew their work was more real than she was superficial. She didn't exist any more than Rosie the Riveter existed.

These were stereotyped icons of another time and place.

The terms and images have stuck because they are a place of the heart more than anything else. If we are more a homebody, family-oriented, or have a love of home cozies, we usually label ourselves as a stay-at-home mom and Suzie Homemaker is our diva. If we have an extrovert temperament and the walls of home close in on us, we think of Rosie as a brave, darling, adventerous girl.

Today we are at home if we want to be. We work outside the home if we choose to do so. The classic stay-at-home mom doesn't exist in the 21st century. We are everywhere.

There are seasons for us as women. Nothing is status quo in this century.

Enter Creative Connie! Wish I had a clipart picture of her. :-) But this little lady is all around us. She is our neighbor, our friend, our college roommate, our sister, our niece, our daughter. She doesn't do things quite like they've been done in the past but she's living her life with her children and she's doing it the best way she can.

The friends I know at home are doing great things to serve others. Call them Creative Connies. We've come along way, Baby, and are paving more roads for daughters and daughter-in-laws to venture down so that they will have the options to proudly be Susie Homemakers if they want to in a world of Rosie Riverters or to have the work grit like Rosie Riveter with the heart of Susie Homemaker upon their sleeve! They can be Susie Homemaker while having a Rosie Riveter business from home.

One friend told me with a sly smile, "Yeah, the family harps on me getting a 'real' job and yet I took care of all of their children so that they could work." They should be serving her now instead of giving her a hard time during her "golden" years. Another friend carves out a few hours each week to work in the paint section at Wal-Mart. Another house sits for the elderly. Another one stocks greeting cards in department stores. Still another cleans houses. Another irons and sews. Quit a few are making their mark with Pampered Chef, Plexus Slim, Avon, and other household names. The writers among us are numerous. Online Etsy and Ebay stores are too many to count. Several babysit in their homes. One has a newspaper route she does in the early morning hours so she is home with her boys during the day. One teachers piano. Another tutors school subjects. Another one has a monogram business inside her home.

It really isn't a do-you-work or do-you-stay home debate any more.

It's a competition of moms competing over who raises the best, well-rounded, educated, self-sufficient children. Who has the newer car? The leather seats? Who has the bigger house and the nicer clothes? Who has the hearts of their children? And who doesn't.

And what happens when we fail?

It's a competition, a vicious competition that you don't hear men, husbands, and dad arguing over.
I'm sure the Creative Connies out there have some answers.


  1. Wonderful post! I'm so glad you found the time to say something.

    My sister-in-law is a work-out-of-the-house mother. She sees her baby maybe two hours a day - enough for a good morning, and an evening bathtime if she's lucky. But oh my, how she loves that baby! With all her heart and soul. And so she sacrifices in order that her baby can eat well, get good care, and stay connected with an international family. But she is judged as a mother, just as I am judged for staying at home.

    But I don't think this is a debate about women's roles. I think it is about people only having value as workers. It's okay to be a SAHM as long as you emphasise how much *work* is involved and how you contribute towards the economy in some way. I think when we can finally go beyond seeing people in terms of the workplace, and instead in terms of loving, then we will be free of judgement. Sadly, I doubt it will happen any time soon.

    Sorry for such a long comment.

  2. Sarah, I appreciate your comment. Thank you for taking the time to share. I agree that things will not chg until we see the importance of people beyond the workplace. What a wonderful thought!

  3. I always love reading your posts, Cay.

    I like that you said in the comment above, "...see the importance of people beyond the workplace" and I would like to add my own opinion to that...(though I shudder lest I be stoned by someone for "heresy"). Here it is: I think we need to even see the importance of mothers beyond their raising of their children. What I mean by this is learning to acknowledge to ourselves our value as children of God, that we are valuable because we "are", because we were/are created, redeemed, and sanctified by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We do our very best for our husband and children, and if - in the eyes of the world which looks only at the outside - we may seem at times to have failed in some way, that we go on, not blaming ourselves or anyone else, not worrying about what anyone else thinks about us, or ours, but loving ourselves, our husband, and our children, and trusting in the Good God, always, and in all things.


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