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).
[clickToTweet tweet=”The family should be the priority of both husband and the wife.” quote=”The family should be the priority of both husband and the wife.”]
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.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Eve was created to help Adam with God’s mission — not Adam’s mission.” quote=”Eve was created to help Adam with God’s mission — not Adam’s mission.”]
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.
I’ve been in Atlanta all week with my husband. We’re here half for ministry (for me), part for work (for him), and part for some quality time with just us two. We left on the heels of hosting my family all the way from Zambia. In fact, seven of my siblings, my mom, and my dad are back in our eighteen hundred square foot home with our sons. I should be laying in a hotel bed binging Parks and Rec with my husband. And I will be soon. But I have something to say about motherhood and mom guilt.
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Legacy about friendship. In it, I tried to be as honest as possible about the struggle of being a transplant in Mississippi’s foreign culture, and my own hang-ups with making new friends. I hit send. Weeks passed. A couple of months. Then the article went live. And I had more than one friend reach out to me and ask me if we were okay. “I thought we were friends!” Undercover Trust Issues I’m not a journaler, and I try not to use my articles as thinly veiled diary entries. However, there…