There’s this battle being fought. But it’s not full of UN sanctions. There aren’t any nuclear bombs. There aren’t any weapons of mass destruction. There aren’t organized sides, really. But it’s still being fought. People are crying and feeling defeated. People are whooping and hollaring and considering themselves winners! It’s called the Mommy Wars.
It’s the concept that moms are fighting with each other over what’s better: to stay-at-home or to be a working mom. Take a look at any number of blogs ran by moms and you’ll see evidence of the war. Look at articles on msn.com and cnn.com and you’ll quickly see that many have an opinion. One article says “It’s better to stay-at-home because your kids will know they’re loved” while another article will tell you “If you make your husband earn all the money, he will be so stressed out that your relationship won’t be good. You’re putting yourself and your child ahead of your husband.” Everyone has an opinion.
At first glance, there seems to be 2 sides. But really, I think there are 4 groups of women in this battle:
- Working moms who are glad to be working
- Working moms who are miserable and would rather be working
- Stay-at-home moms who are glad to be stay-at-home moms
- Stay-at-home moms who are miserable and would rather be working
Engaging in this battle just makes the already miserable ones more miserable. And it makes the content ones question themselves. And, really, it’s ridiculous. But it’s a battle none-the-less. And it gets really fuzzy in my mind. How much ‘work’ does one need to do to be classified as a working mom? Some examples are obvious. But many of them aren’t. Are you a working mom or a stay-at-home mom if:
- You have a paper route in the mornings
- You babysit your sister’s child a few afternoons/week
- You clean houses a few times a month while your kids are in school
- You sell Tupperware
- You go to a job for 10 hours/week
- You go to a job for 40 hours/week
- You work from home selling craft goods in an etsy shop
- You volunteer for a ministry 20 hours/week
- You keep the books for your husband’s business
There’s the commercial that asks “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop?” This is just like that. How many hours a week does it take to turn a stay-at-home mom into a working mom? 10? 20? 40? Does it matter if some of them are in an office? Does it matter if some of them are in your office in the basement? Does it matter if, while you’re working, a daycare worker is watching your child or if a public school teacher or your husband is?
Why the battle?
See my point? It gets so fuzzy and convoluted! Why is it such a battle? This is just my opinion of course, but I think it’s a battle because: We’re insecure. Women compare themselves to each other.
Not all women do this and not all women do this over every issue, but enough of us do this enough times that it makes a difference. We want to know that we’re measuring up. We want to know that we’re being good enough at whatever-it-is. It starts in grade school with kickball. Then junior high with makeup and hair and accessories. Then high school with getting boyfriends and good grades. Then college with internships and job offers. Then onto post-college and wanting (and getting) a husband. Then with raising children. It’s dumb and self-defeating really with how much we compare ourselves to someone else. But we do it.
So when women make a choice different from that which we would have made (to stay-at-home or to work OR to find out the gender of their unborn baby or to be surprised OR to buy a brand new car or buy a used car OR to vote Republican or Democrat OR whatever the decision of the hour is), we question if we’re right or not.
The Proverbs 31 Woman
The Proverbs 31 woman is a hardworking gal! There’s no doubt about it! When talking about being a stay-at-home mom, I’ve heard men and women say: “But the Proverbs 31 woman didn’t stay home. She traded. She sold things. She bought real estate. She worked!”
My answer: she might have. And that’s okay! Great, even. I’ve mentioned before that no one can do all the things the Proverbs 31 woman does every day. You just can’t. There are seasons in our life. A season to work outside the home. A season to stay at home. A season to make our own clothes. A season to visit JC Penney’s.
The key is that the Proverbs 31 must have had her priorities in the right order: God, then family, then working. She served God well. She served her family well. She even worked well. In fact, her working well is how she served her family well. It’s how she was able to bless the needy.
But she shouldn’t have worked if it would’ve negatively impacted her ability to serve her family. If her working would be a big drain on her family, it wouldn’t have been the right thing for her to do. At that season of life.
The Right Standard of Measure
So, let’s go back to the only standard of measure that really matters: What does God say? What has God told you and your husband to do?
Fact is, I don’t see any Scriptural commands that a woman 1) must be a wife or 2) must have children or 3) must be a stay-at-home mom. I don’t see them. I’ve studied the issue of “Must I have children” quite a bit and I just don’t see it anywhere in the Bible that every woman must have children.
So, if you have children, let me be clear: You do not have to be a SAHM. I’ve already laid out all kinds of reason why you might want to and why it might be best for your family and why you should prepare in case it’s in your future, but you don’t have to do that. Don’t feel guilty if the Lord leads you in a different direction. (But please, let it be the Lord who leads you in a direction, not someone else!) What the Bible does command women to do:
- Manage our homes
- Help our husbands, if married
- Raise our children, if we have them
I just don’t want you to get down the path of life, have children and realize that you want to be a SAHM, but can’t. Better to prepare and head that direction even if it doesn’t happen that way.