Friday, February 29

Debunking the Myths of Homemaking

I came across a blog post moaning about homemaking. It would have made me depressed to be a homemaker if I wasn't one and haven't experienced the truth. Reading it caused me to think more about the subject and I've decided to counter some of the popular myths.

Myth Number One: You need to be rich or at least well off to be a homemaker or stay at home Mama.
Before our oldest daughter was born, a book shop nearby was going out of business and I picked up a short book titled, "You Can be a Stay at Home Mom". I don't recall the author but it introduced me to the basics of being a stay at home mom and made me realize what was at stake. At that time Sean and I were making about the same income, neither one great, but both of us knew I should stay home with our new child.
When our bald headed beauty was born, our income was cut in half suddenly. We had Sean's school loans, a mortgage, and monthly bills. Both of us drove beaters. We made do and were contented doing so, knowing that building and investing in our family would pay off in the long term more than anything else.
Some quick ways we did:
1. Shopping second hand for just about everything: cars, clothing, and furniture.
2. Cooking from scratch.
3. Beginning to make a weekly menu.
4. Growing a small garden (in the city).

Over the years I have kept a home on a very, very meager income (below the national poverty level and without public assistance), and on a very spacious income. It can be done either way. The principles are the same.
Most Americans cannot fathom living simply or being contented without "having". Do you realize most German's live well on $17,000 a year (according to the statistics). The difference is the German idea of living well and the Americans. Most Americans think they need cable, two vehicles, luxurious vacations, and at the least the freedom to buy what they want on credit.
Myth Number Two: Being a Homemaker is bad for your marriage.
Yes, I can see how coming home to a (mostly) organized home and a hot fresh meal could badly influence your husband! ;) If, however, he is coming home to a complaining, nagging wife then, yes, your marriage will suffer. However, I believe it would be the wife's personal indiscipline and lack of kindness that would be causing the marriage feathers to be ruffled and not the homemaking. Ouch, yes, I know.
Myth Number Three: Being a stay at home Mom may not be best for your children.
Now, is this because they are being screamed at all day or because they get read to and taught and nurtured?
One of my pet peeves (a gentle way of putting it) is hearing people say that they don't have the patience to be around children. As if God shorted them.
How about developing the discipline to control yourself and keep a quiet spirit? Then the patience comes. Patience is a virtue we allow God to develop in our spirits. Enough said.
I'd encourage anyone who thinks leaving the kiddos with anyone other than a parent is a great idea to research the statistics on the matter.

Myth Number Four: Being a stay at home Mom is a waste of intelligence
Because negotiating world (home) peace is an easy thing to do, right? And having to be an expert in everything from plumbing and poison control to kitchen chemistry and child behavior doesn't take much intelligence? Why not use our intelligence to better our families before letting it benefit a company we have no vested interest in? Or is it that you have to get paid for what you do in order to be considered or feel intelligent? I'm not sure.

Myth Number Five: Deciding to be a stay at home mom and devote yourself to homemaking will make you grieve for company.
Honestly, I am too busy to miss adult company during the day. Call me antisocial if you like.
If you are a homemaker or stay at home Mama, and you do feel like you need adult interaction during the time your husband is gone, invite a friend over for tea. It's nice. I do it.
Cultivating a heart and home of hospitality is a good thing. Sitting around moping is not.

Myth Number Six: (This is a biggie in some Christian circles) Being your children's mother keeps you from "real" ministry.
I cannot even imagine a good argument for this. I've never heard one.
Because ministering from your home doesn't count, right? Like bringing food to neighbors or watching a pregnant mothers kids so she can rest or growing food that you share with a needy family....
Or ministering to the little ones every day isn't worth much? After all they can't give you recognition or testify up front on Sundays as to your faithfulness...
Putting "ministry" before your children and family is like putting the horse before the cart in my mind. If you do not have the patience or will to minister effectively to your family, how can you minister effectively to others?

Thought this little bit was interesting:


Anonymous said...

Bring it Girl!

Christina.B said...

Great post! I have been reading your blog via bloglines but I had to delurk when I read this.

Blakely said...

As of right now, I am childless, but when I do have children I want to stay at home and raise my children. May of my friends don't understand this concept and discourage me from even thinking this way. I am so glad to have found your blog.

Anonymous said...

I really like a lot of the ideas that you post - it's great having this as a resource for the future (when I'm planning on staying home with our future kids.) However, I have to nit pick 2 of the points you made: Germany - there's *definitely* less emphasis on consumption for consumption's sake, but 17K is a red herring (and isn't born out by the quick searches I did, either, unless you're talking about that being what's spent on discretionary spending. (the Independent); When state benefits are as robust as theirs, however, comparing overall income with that in the US is somewhat fallacious anyway, though.

The other point is one you don't make, but seem to hint at in the Myth Number Three category - the idea that all mothers can *best* contribute to their families by being at home. There are a lot of alternatives to daycare besides the big institutions (or the small sketchy ones), and since people come with such a wide variety of talents, there are definitely some situations where sharing childcare makes a lot more sense for everyone's happiness. I'm greatly inspired by your ability to nurture yourself while being at home, but I don't believe that it's the best solution for everyone.

That said (what a tome!), it's great to read about all of the positive sides you bring to this!

Me said...

Christina B! Thanks for de-lurking!
Blakely, it is an unfortunate fact that there is more sway and pressure to leave the home than to stay in it. I'm encouraged that even under pressure, you are planning on raising your children full time!
My statistics came off of this expatriate site:
I read the stat in an article on there, but unfortunately didn't earmark it. Promise I didn't make it up. ;)
I guess we'll just have to disagree on the fact that a mother is most beneficial to her children by being a full time mother.
Thanks for your view.

Michelle said...

I liked you post (very well said) and I love your blog.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through Joy. I love this post. I LOVE staying home with my children and cannot imaging entrusting them to someone else's care. I haven't always thought of being a stay at home mother as a blessing, but God is so good and has shown me what an amazing gift He has given me. Thanks for this post:) I will be back!

Borbe Bunch said...

Thanks for speaking words of truth!! You are an encouragement...God's Word is clear on the vital role of parents who take discipling thier blessings seriously...
glad to have "met" you!
God Bless,
I LOVE second hand and yard sales...can't wait for summer! :)

Me said...

Michelle and Brandy, I'm so glad to have your comments! Thank you so much for stopping by! Brandy, I noticed on your blog that you had a moms group with fourteen children. That was an encouragement to me (especially the part about it not taking long to clean up!) as I've been debating whether to do a moms Bible study in our home. I keep thinking warmer weather would work out best since everyone could be outdoors. But then there's always spring rain showers here!

Jack's Mommy said...

I just found your blog through google blog search. whew, that last one on the post irks me terribly! I am a stay at home mom (well, stay at home wife - with our first baby due in 9 weeks). I agree wholeheartedly with your answers! And i can not fathom anyone in the world thinking that you should put the ministry before your family. I am under the conviction that a woman's first and foremost calling from God is hear husband and her children. In the Bible, Paul even warns churches not to let people serve if they were unable to first be good stewards of their own home affairs and family! During our first year of marriage we each brought in 50 / 50 of the income - but now my husband and I get by on just his income so I can stay at home during pregnancy and the upcoming years. We don't feel deprived at all, and our Lord has more than taken care of our family's needs thus far. We don't use credit and we don't take vacations...we're really frugal by nature. But we're also very very happy. Whew...I guess I better stop before this comment turns into a novel. :) you're post just hit a lot of hot buttons with me! Glad to find someone else in the blog world who feels like I do when it comes to staying at home! :)

Katy-Anne Binstead said...

GREAT post! It annoys me greatly when someone tells me I ought to use my skills out in the world because they are apparently "wasted" at home. UGH.

Anonymous said...

RE: the lack of social life--this is a big myth. There are so many other stay-at-home moms to make friends with. Join mothers' clubs, playgroups, church groups; meet them at the park or swim/soccer/gymnastics classes. I've had coffee with my mommy friends while our kids hang from monkey bars. I've shopped malls with them while pushing strollers. As a stay-at-home mom, you get to pick who you hang out with. When you work, you're stuck with whoever your co-workers are. As far as intellectual stimulation: I've learned so much from the various parenting and child development books I've read.