Stay At Home Mom and Career Mom: You Were Made for Something Greater

I write most of my articles in one sitting.

My husband and I currently share a laptop. My old computer gave up the ghost soon after I quit teaching full-time to stay at home with our son. Since we are a one-income family in a two-income economy, we share. And because we share, I try to write efficiently. But this article has been impossible to write in one sitting. Given the title, should not come as a shock.

Stay-at-home motherhood is a hotly debated topic, one rife with minefields, and blog readers want an article that is going to speak for them. One tribe wants a blogger to write that stay at home motherhood is a noble calling that every mother should pursue and our culture wrongfully undervalues and ridicules it.

On the other hand, though, the other tribe wants me to hammer home the fact that stay at home motherhood isn’t the only option for a mom who loves Jesus, and that the mom guilt over this topic has gotten ridiculous.

I hate disappointing people. And so I agonized for days over what exactly I wanted to say here. And then I realized that, like many on both sides of this debate, I was focusing more on satisfying my readers than on pleasing the Lord.

The Most Important Job In the World

When I tell people that I am a stay-at-home mom, the response is overwhelmingly positive: “It’s the most important job in the world!” But I also have gotten the occasional “I wish I could stay at home and do nothing all day, too,” or “I wish I were the type of person who didn’t need intellectual stimulation.”

The family is important because healthy homes are essential to a flourishing society. But more importantly, God made marriage to echo Christ’s relationship with his Bride (Ephesians 5:22ff), and the home is the first frontier where children are taught and trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

The dynamic that Scripture lays forth is evident from the creation of the world: God gave Adam a calling, and he created Eve to assist in that calling. Throughout Scripture, we see snippets of what that assistance looks like — verses like Proverbs 31 and Titus 2:3-5 help it to take shape. It is unmistakable that the family should be the priority of both husband and the wife. The Bible further specifies that the home should be the priority of the wife and that providing both spiritually and financially for his family should be the priority of a husband (1 Timothy 5:8).

The family should be the priority of both husband and the wife.Click To Tweet

For our family, that has meant making some sacrifices so that I can stay home. We are still figuring out how to pursue the callings God has placed on our lives while prioritizing our calling as a family unit. The decisions we’ve made in pursuit of that balance are a blessing to our family — not a judgment call I am making for yours.

But is the home the beginning and end of my identity as a woman?

An Issue Of Identity

In the bloodbath of mommy wars, stay at home moms, and career moms are often locked in an epic battle to prove that they are the happiest and most fulfilled women alive.

Either we stay at home and have “the best job in the world,” or we work and are fulfilled by “the best job in the world.” Either we scream that our work in the trenches at home is meaningful or we shout that our careers are meaningful.

Might I suggest that we’re in a shouting match over the wrong thing?

Somehow, we’ve wrongfully made the home the most significant battle of biblical womanhood. We’ve taken a couple of passages in God’s word and turned them into the entirety of what it means to be a woman. We’ve taken our identities as females and caged them in Titus 2:3-5 and Proverbs 31. We have camped out in those passages with something to prove — either as homemakers or professionals.

But neither sphere was ever meant to satisfy a woman of God entirely.

Eve was created to help Adam with God’s mission — not Adam’s mission.Click To Tweet

This declaration should not come as a shock to anyone who has read the Bible, but it does tend to run counter to the caricature of the always-content stay at home mom and the ever-challenged career mom. I love my son, but he was never meant to bring me ultimate contentment. I love my part-time job, but it was never intended to bring me my primary source of joy.

We cannot move forward in this discussion until we reach back to the foundation of our identity. Eve was created to help Adam with God’s mission — not Adam’s mission. Women were not made for earthly homes at all, but for heavenly ones. And everything they do — in the home, or in the workplace — should be in service of that fact.

God Made Us For More

I’ll be the first to admit that being a stay at home mom is not an easy job. It’s been the loneliest thing that I have ever done. Outlets for creativity and individuality have been stripped down to a life of constant sacrifice for my son and my husband. I have watched my identity shift from a promising single to “mere” mommy. Seeking my fulfillment from this season is asking for a wellspring of bitterness.

Similarly, I’ll also share that being a full-time working mom (a sick-as-a-dog pregnant one at that) was just as tough. As I pursued my passion for teaching, I struggled to balance my priorities to my husband and my unborn son. My house was a mess, we ordered way too much takeout, and I counted the days until summer vacation.

I needed grace for both callings. And in both seasons, I’ve needed to wrestle with what it means to be fully Wynn’s mama, fully Phillip’s wife, and also, a woman with gifts, talents, and abilities to cultivate for Kingdom purposes. As a stay at home mom, I’ve needed to make sure that I’m not neglecting the formation of my character and disappearing behind my homemaker persona. As a woman who also works, I’ve needed to make sure that I’m not neglecting the priorities of my home and idolizing my career.

The Balancing Act

Writing this article wasn’t easy  because navigating these priorities is not as easy as adopting a stereotype. Suzie Homemaker or Sally Successful aren’t biblical norms. As wives, we hold the truth that we were created to be helpmeets in one hand; in the other, we hold the truth that our helping is ultimately in service to the Creator. It’s a nuanced balancing act that isn’t as simple as caging the beginning and ending of a woman’s calling in her home or at her job. It requires submitting to the entire counsel of God’s word. It is then that God equips us to prayerfully make the best decisions for our individual families. His Word also equips us to encourage our sisters in Christ in every sphere.

Being a mom is not my ultimate calling — and nor is being a teacher. God made us for something greater. Our ultimate calling is to live life for God’s glory. I don’t stand on the pedestal of mom-sacrifice, or on the platform of career excellence. I bow to my knees before a God who plans my steps.

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18 Responses

  1. Sara Watson
    Reply
    27 April 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Super interesting article! I especially appreciate your sense of economic reality which is something that so often feels so frustrating when people talk about Christian parenting. I often get shamed by other Christians for practicing birth control but I can’t afford children right now.

    • Sarah
      Reply
      5 June 2017 at 10:34 pm

      I am not shaming, just sharing a perspective. The problem with birth control is it signifies a lack of faith in God. If we truly believe that God is in control of our lives and that whatever He brings us to, He will bring us through, how can we doubt Him when it comes to when and how many children He sends to us. Do we trust in Him wholey and completely, or do we doubt? Not preaching or judging, just wondering your thoughts.

  2. Rebecca
    Reply
    28 April 2017 at 7:00 am

    Excellent! I have been the mom with little ones making it from nap time to bedtime and the teacher counting down the days between breaks. You are learning the truth of our purpose as women much earlier than I did. Thanks for sharing your heart and a Kingdom perspective.

  3. Cynthia Mubanga
    Reply
    28 April 2017 at 10:47 am

    Amen! Thank you for sharing these insights.

  4. Chris-Ann
    Reply
    28 April 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Honestly, this article literally took everything I’ve been thinking about for the past year and surpassed even how I might have put it. Thank you for agonizing and submitting to the Lord. This is a great post. Many women need to hear this. I got so tired of seeing the underlying (or not so much) tension between the working women/moms and stay at home moms. Definitely going to share this! Bless you.

  5. bukola
    Reply
    29 April 2017 at 1:51 am

    Write Comment
    thank you so much for this article, whether we die or live, let’s do it into the Lord

  6. Denise Sultenfuss wwwdenisesultenfuss.com
    Reply
    29 April 2017 at 8:29 am

    You crafted a beautiful word portrait that illustrates both worlds without exhausting one over the other conviction. When my children came along, I, too, said goodbye to a career as an educator. I also postponed my passion for writing while mothering full-time because I was self-admittedly incapable of performing my role as mom, wife, writer, and teacher simultaneously. My nest is almost empty so I am free to pursue my calling and passion without losing my way in the labrynth maze of mommy guilt. Thank you for these well formed thoughts.

  7. Lacey Rozell
    Reply
    29 April 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I am a stay at home mom of 3 under 4 and have been praying about what it looks like for me to use my gifts for the kingdom. It is a hard path to navigate and one that as you said takes daily pray and submission to God. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am encouraged that I am on the right path and reminded to trust in a God whose plan for my life is way better than my own- I’ve just got to trust him in every step!

    Blessings!

  8. Armand Collins
    Reply
    29 April 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you for this article. It was thought provoking to say the least. Having said that, I want to press you on few things. First, you seem to suggest that a woman’s creativity and individuality is somehow stifled by staying at home. I would argue that creativity flourishes more in an an environment absent of organizational rules and regulations (think of the “open” environments of the most innovative companies). Second, you also seem to suggest that fulfillment can’t come from a life of sacrifice. But didn’t Jesus’ exaltation (fulfillment) come as a result of the ultimate sacrifice of the cross?

  9. Julie
    Reply
    30 April 2017 at 8:56 am

    Thank you! This was very encouraging to me as a stay at home mom (part time substitute teacher) . It’s encouraging to me to know that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings.

  10. Rachel Mullen
    Reply
    30 April 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I really appreciated your article. As a mom I fall in between the two dichotomies you highlight. I would have preferred to be a stay at home mom, but after much prayer and sought after counsel, I have remained at work almost full time; just enough to be working, but also enough to be home with my children. I love your quote “It’s a nuanced balancing act that isn’t as simple as caging the beginning and ending of a woman’s calling in her home or at her job. It requires submitting to the entire counsel of God’s word. It is then that God equips us to prayerfully make the best decisions for our individual families. His Word also equips us to encourage our sisters in Christ in every sphere.” I wish other women would be encouraged by this when they struggle the choice they have made; remember this when they are tempted to judge others for their choices; and ultimately learn to better love and encourage each other in the midst of whatever the Lord has called them and others to do to best serve and love their families. I once was part of a discussion at a women’s retreat that discussed “what would women’s ministry look like if we spent as much time loving and encouraging each other as we did judging or feeling guilty over the decisions we must make regarding our vocations, our children’s schooling, and so on?” Your article is a good challenge to us as women in the Church to seek to more fully love and encourage each other, and to be encouraged ourselves as we make those decisions. Thank you for this article and for encouraging me in this way.

  11. OlayideM
    Reply
    30 April 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Great piece! I’m not a wife or mother yet, however I have many friends who are, and I also have friends who are single stay-at-home-parents. What advice would you give them in relation to this article?

  12. Diana
    Reply
    5 May 2017 at 3:50 pm

    It is ultimately God’s Mission. Amen to that powerful statement, Jasmine. I have been a teacher as well especially while pregnant, and currently am a stay-at home mama to my triplets. I have seen how both worlds can get lonelier and stressful if I do not focus on what you wrote here today. we are made for something far more greater. Thank you for this perspective .

    Diana – http://dianasdiaries.com

  13. E Weaver
    Reply
    1 June 2017 at 11:35 am

    Your candor is inspiring. This is something that, as a lonely SAHM who’s always wanted to be a SAHM, I struggle with. I’m a mom! Now what? And I’ll be the first to admit that I shake my head at women who work outside of the home by choice. I’ll be reading this again.

  14. Brittany
    Reply
    4 June 2017 at 2:29 pm

    This article is so timely for me. I am a mum to three young children and also a teacher. I’ve recently decided to give up work and stay at home, so I’ve been grappling with the issues that you so eloquently discuss here. It’s such an important reminder for me that my identity is found first and foremost in Christ and serving him wherever I am, whether being a faithful witness in school or at home with my husband and kids. Thank you so much for this reminder.

  15. Kate
    Reply
    4 June 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you for the encouragement! I work full time and have a 3year old. Recently I was criticized by a SAHM because she had her child potty trained by 2. While my child just turned 3 had no interest in it after lots of effort. My husband has struggled for two years to find full time work. I would love to stay home but that hasn’t been a possibility. I appreciate that you balance truth with reality in your article:)

    • Katie
      Reply
      4 June 2017 at 11:51 pm

      Kate, don’t worry about the potty training. It will come when the child is ready. It has nothing to do with you working full time. There will always be those moms… just ignore them!

      • 6 June 2017 at 2:59 pm

        Agree 100% Unless Wynn starts showing crazy signs of readiness, I’m not even going to THINK of trying to potty train him before he turns 3. What a silly thing to try to make someone feel guilty about.

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