Tuesday, July 12, 2011

clueless mom: the value of a stay-at-home mom

I've been wanting to write a post on this topic for probably a year. Finally getting to it! I guess I haven't done so because a) I've been to lazy to delve into an emotionally-charged topic and b) I am scared of offending someone (Too often I am guilty of sweeping under the rug something I believe in in fear of how it might affect the other person.... )

Regardless, choosing to stay at home is a topic I am passionate about and feel I need to blog about. There exist so many myths about staying at home! Many of these myths, I have believed my entire life--that it is a frumpy, insignificant. lazy and mundane "job", and an intelligent woman will seek a useful career. I think this very common mentality in young women (and old women) is false. So I'm blogging just a few reasons why I chose to stay at home.

Disclaimer: (Of course, as we already discussed my fears)--I don't think it's wrong, or bad, or selfish for a mom to work! Every household and family looks and operates differently and I don't think there is one, right way for a family to look or operate. The only belief I do hold that I believe applies to every family is the mom's accountability for doing what God asks of her first, for honoring her marriage first before any other relationship, and doing what is best for her children.

With that long explanation (heh) here are the reasons I choose to stay at home, and love doing so:

1) It is the most important job in the world. 

 I figured this out in high school, right about the time I was arguing with a friend why staying at home was an insulting career for a woman.  My argument was that I wanted to make a bigger impact on the world than just changing diapers or washing dishes. But my guy friend asked me, "Who has made the bigger impact on you--the president of the most powerful nation in the world, or your parent?" I knew then that if I did anything right--it needed to be being a good mom, if I ever was one.

2) Truth: It saves moola

 Staying at home actually provides me the time to do research on life insurance policy, home insurance policies, health insurance policies, car insurance,  find better phone plans, launder cloth diapers (which, who am I, I happen to love using, and stacking neatly and shelving in my laundry room

..who am I). I also have time to cook things from scratch, and--importantly--keep my house *pretty clean. Calculated out, we save hundreds every month because I do these things. I also (being the more financially-anal spouse) have time to do the budget. I realized after I stopped working and school, how much money we wasted just because it took too much energy to think about what we purchased. Not to mention, the cost of childcare--if you have high standards--can be expensive. I've heard average is $680/month , but where I live prices are much much higher.

So I'm saving on:
*multiple insurance expenses,
*maid expenses (..right?!),
*food expenses (time to coupon/price compare/make baby food),
*gas (to and from work)
*putting mileage on car
*cute work clothes (which I would undoubtedly need)
*cute work shoes (which would cost just as much as everything else put together)

What it costs for me to work exceeds the benefit.

3) It helps you live healthfully 

My mom is doing an experiment where she wears her pedometer everyday because she is trying to better her health. She says she averages 2,000/day during an 8hr work shift (as an epidemiologist). She came here for the weekend to watch Elijah and by 9:30 am she had taken 1800 steps already! That's in only two hours of his wake time!
Also, I feel like for me personally, being healthful involves more time. As a homemaker, I have time to research natural ways to decrease my husbands cholesterol, I have time to find the best low-carb recipes and make them for him. We have time for both of us to train for triathlons (mine is in 2 weeks!--there's no way I could have trained while working, at least not without making it a priority before my family). I have time to drive out of my way to organic health food stores or buy fresh produce. Since I have been at home, we have had more energy, started eating much healthier, and of course are less stressed affecting our cortisol levels. (I'm saying this comparatively--not saying I don't inhale the choc chip cookie dough, it's just a lot less dough than previously inhaled). Also, we've both gone down dress sizes if that's any incentive-ha. (I lost 50-60 lbs and hub has lost around 20)

4) It fosters a healthy marriage

This has been so true for us. Again, it's like that cheesy Christian saying, "How do you spell love? T-I-M-E". For many women out there, their job is a source of life and actually gives them energy so that when they come home they have left to give to their family. This is not true for me, and I think for many women. Every job I have ever had has exhausted me due to my perfectionistic nature. I tend to invest a lot of my energy, time and mental focus on my job over relationships when I'm working. I'm just saying that's my tendency! So, staying at home is really ideal for my marriage because it enables me to give my first fruits to my spouse. It takes so much work to make a marriage healthy. It is now over 50% of marriages end in divorce, even "Christian" marriages (I feel like bible belt Christian communities feel they are immune sometimes). It's hard enough putting my spouse first with a baby in the mix, so much harder for me when I have more responsibilities, too.

(Here is a great blog on minidate night ideas that have been holding us accountable lately!)

5) It is fulfilling

Okay, I'm going to admit it--there are times when I am bored. I feel I need a little hobby, I need a little creativity, I need a little outside inspiration, because my job is hard. There are days where you wonder, What am I Doing With the Rest of My Life???--as I guess happens with any job.

But, then I get another voicemail from another Dr.'s appointment, the baby wakes up from his entirely too-short-of a nap, an expensive plant dies, the dog starts vomitting on the rug, the neighbor-girl starts ringing the door incessently because she wants to play with the vomitting dog,  your mom texts you, "AreyouokayIhaventheardfromyouallday" and you realize there's no food in the pantry and its 5:30.

I am, the CEO of my household.  My house, & my family is like my company if you will.  I am in charge of seeing that the house gets repaired, the bills are paid, the plants all get watered (my backyard sometimes feels like a plantation), the dog is maintained, the baby is safe and well-fed and entertained, there is a healthy meal in my men's bellies three times per day, my family is spiritually-minded, safe, well-adjusted, peaceful, joyful and successful.  I have to say--My degree, graduating with honors-- gone to waste???? Yeah right!

Someone once asked me, "Do you think looking back, you will regret changing diapers all day?" I just can't imagine that happening. Maybe in a moment of exhaustion/despair/darkness. But I can't imagine, looking into my sweet little boy's perfect round eyes, and saying, "You wasted my time"


So. I write all that, and then I say this--Every three months I ask Justin if I should go back to work. Ha. Yes, sometimes out of fear. But sometimes out of faith-- (making a decision out of fear rather than faith is always bad)--there might be a day soon--tomorrow--when going back to work will be the best thing for my family. Gotta check and make sure I'm still where I'm supposed to be, you know.

I don't know for sure if I'm called to be a SAHM forever. I am committed to being one, though, even if it means selling a car, or even selling our house (gulp)--if it were a financial reason that could be fixed that way--because that's how sure I am that it is best for Elijah and best for Justin. It is that important to me. But, like I said, I don't think it's the right thing for everybody, and someday it may not be best for my family for one reason. But I am so so glad for the meantime. I am cherishing this time like gold.


  1. Bravo, bravo, bravo! I applaud your choice and your courage to blog about it.

    I was a young mom in 1970, during the Women's Liberation era, and found that those of us who chose to stay home, were greatly ostracized. Only one sister-in-law was encouraging to me.
    I guess it hasn't changed much since then, huh?

    And like you - I have no bones to pick with those who choose to work outside the home, or indeed those who MUST work. But like them, appreciate a little encouragement every now and again!

    Thanks for sharing. . .

  2. Thanks so much! I feel that my generation greatly underestimates the value of the profession of staying at home. I feel like a job that requires so much 'serving' is almost viewed as degrading by my generation! I know I felt the same way once upon a time. Thanks so much for the encouragement, stay at home moms (really, ANY moms) need it!

  3. Wow! Thank you for the inspiration I’ve been lacking lately. Being a SAHM is by far the hardest, most important “job” I’ve ever had and the BEST one!