There is no greater joy in this earthly life than family.
As a young wife and mother, I loved and adored my husband and children; I counted it a privilege and responsibility to be a mother. And it was a blessing beyond all measures.
During the early 1980s, right at the start of the feminist movement, I recall being timid whenever anyone asked me what I “did” for a living. I always coward to hear their response of, “Oh your just a housewife,” – the politically correct term of homemaker hadn’t caught on yet. I would avoid being asked that question at all costs, and found myself making up excuses why I was home raising my three daughters instead of letting some paid daycare worker watch them while I earned a living doing something else. I even received a bit of grief from my extended family; you see they had high hopes for me, because I was a good student and graduated in the top ten of my class.
As I studied the scriptures, I discovered that I had nothing to be ashamed of as this profession – the oldest of all professions – was God ordained. I became proud of being a stay-at-home mom and also a bit defensive of my career of choice. When people would say to me, “Oh you don’t have a job?” I would reply with, “If motherhood is done right, it is the hardest job in the world.” And that is the truth. Dealing with children all day is exhausting and stressful. The constant worry that you are not “doing” it right, or that you might inadvertently make a mistake and scar your child for life kept me from sleeping on more than one night. But I stuck with it and did the very best that I could do.
Now, I don’t mean to demean any woman who chose or had to work to help support her family, but for me and my house, we chose to make sacrifices so I could stay home and raise my three beautiful daughters and to later homeschool them. And the fruition of my labors were three girls that barely gave me any reason to regret my choices. To say they were all perfect angels would be a lie, for all of us are human and sinners by nature; but I was never ashamed of anything they did. They were loving, talented, selfless children and teenagers, and I was always proud of them and their accomplishments.
Today, they are beautiful women whom I am extremely proud; two are now stay-at-home moms with three children of their own (a one has a fourth on the way), and my youngest, who has not yet started a family, is a registered nurse and getting her Master’s Degree in Literature. The young mothers also homeschool their young broods.
Recently, I ran across that same condescending question about working outside of the home but in reference to my daughters. I felt that same defensive shame creep up as I made excuses as to why my daughter was not working but staying home to raise her own children. Excuses like, It would cost a fortune for daycare for that many children, and she is homeschooling – all of which were true. I later chastised myself. For you see, although all my daughters are extremely intelligent and talented, I raised and taught them that when they grew up, they could be or do anything they desired. The lesson always continued with a “but.” “But, when you choose to become a mother, your most important and rewarding job would be to raise your own children,” I would admonish.
Apparently this lesson stuck, because that is exactly what they are doing. Yes, it requires great sacrifice. Our family has never been able to take a lot of vacations or have the best cars, but we always have had everything we needed. The rewards far outweigh the sacrifices – I have fantastic grandchildren with whom, like their parents, I am very proud. They are happy, well-adjusted and extremely loving. They are being raised in the Light of God’s Word and they are a joy to not only their parents but to all of their grandparents.
Would they be the same if they were raised in a daycare or with a babysitter? Perhaps, but then the one who would be losing out would be the parent. Not to see the first step or hear the first word is so heartbreaking to so many working moms and my heart goes out to them.
In the end, it is a choice. Not everyone chooses the same – and that’s okay too. But as I said, “For me and my house, this was and is our choice.”
And I refuse to be ashamed of this choice ever again.