The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Staying Home, feeling invisible.
I recently had a friend over for lunch. She became a stay at home Mom for her teenage girls just a few months ago. However she is struggling with some of the adjustment from working for pay to being home full time. She is struggling with a common problem for women who suddenly stop working outside the home to become a full time wife and Mom, a loss of identity.
I can remember my own Mum telling me about that when I was a young adult. My Mum had always wanted to be a wife and mother. She got married at 20, had my brother just 9 months later, turned 21 the month after that, then had me at 22. She very quickly got busy just looking after two small children and running a home on a very tight budget (I think everyone had a very tight budget back in the 1970's.) Then one day it hit her. She wasn't her anymore. She was her Dad's daughter, her husband's wife, her children's Mum, but never just her. She was no longer known just for being herself. Everyone knew her in relation to someone else. It took my Mum a long time to figure out who she really was after that loss of identity.
I've seen this same thing happen to many friends. For some it is so difficult to overcome that they give up and return to the paid workforce so they can find a sense of accomplishment and identity again. It is only by returning to paid work outside the home that they feel they are still themselves.
After my recent conversation with the friend who is currently dealing with this identity crisis I've been pondering why we as women undermine ourselves in this way. Being a mother is probably the single most important job we could ever do. Being a mother is shaping and influencing part of the next generation, and beyond. It has been said that our personality and core values are shaped for life within the first 7 years. Who we are at 7 is for the most part who we will be as an adult. The single biggest influence in our life in those 7 years is our primary caregiver, historically mothers. It is a role that until recently was held in esteem. Being a mother was seen as the most important job we could do.
To me being a mother is still the most important job I can do, but somewhere in the last 50 or so years our society has began to disagree. Now we are seen as somehow surplus to requirements. Our role in society is minimalised. We are ONLY a stay at home Mom, as if we should be doing something more important instead. Staying home full time we easily get dismissed as irrelevant to larger society. Is it any wonder that so many women begin to loose their identity, or feel invisible when they do choose to stay at home?
I love being at home with my son. I often remark to my darling husband that I really admire him for being able to leave every day to go to work. I know it would break my heart to beyond distraction if I were the one who had to leave every morning to earn a living. I am fortunate. I have a husband who strongly supports me in being a stay at home wife and mother. He tells me regularly that he can cheerfully go out to work because he knows I am home taking proper care of our son. He doesn't have to give the welfare of Aiden a second thought while he is at work, because he knows as his mother I am taking care of him the way he needs to be taken care of.
I feel very privileged to be home every day, being a mother to a happy contented little boy. I get to use my creativity and intelligence in so many more ways than I ever did in any paid job I have ever done (and I've had some really great jobs over the years.) I get to watch this child grow and develop before my very eyes. I am witness to all his firsts. I am also the biggest influence in his life. Who he will become as a person is largely under my influence. The values and attitudes he develops in life will mostly be thanks to me. What he sees me do will influence what he does. How I live will be reflected in how he lives. I can take that responsibility and grow to be a better influence for him, or I can hand that over to strangers at daycare. Personally I'd rather do it myself.
My husband and I have a vision. We want to establish a godly dynasty with our family. It is having that vision that helps us both keep going in our respective roles within our family. I stay at home on purpose. I also have a purpose in staying at home. This is not idle time in my life. Rather together we are building foundational blocks in Aiden's life that will work towards our vision. This will extend to future children too. As our family grows, so our vision will grow. By the time they are adults we hope and plan to raise godly men and women for the Kingdom of God. We pray daily for our children to catch a hold of our vision and legacy and for them to then pass it on the the next generation after them.
The problem as far as I can see it is that so many of us have lost sight of our purpose and responsibility as parents. Our society tells us that it isn't important, that anyone can raise our children. When we loose sight of just how important we actually are to our children, then we begin to listen to all the negative voices around us. When we don't have a purpose and a vision for staying home, we get lost in the maze of emotions and other peoples comments. When we see ourselves as ONLY a stay at home Mom it gets too easy to feel invisible, unimportant and swallowed up in life.
If we want to avoid feeling invisible and lost we need to find our purpose. We need to ask ourselves why we are doing this? We also need to ask ourselves what can possibly be more important right now that investing in my child's future? The truth is that NOTHING is more important, no matter if your child is an infant or a teenager. Nobody can be a mother to your children as well as you can.
Feeling lost, get a vision. Feeling invisible, get a purpose. After that your imagination is your only limitation.
Let us all remember that stay at home Mom's are not JUST, they are ALL.