An open letter to working moms

Dear Working Mom,

I see you nearly every time I’m out with my children.  Sometimes you are very young, sometimes you look older.  You might look happy one day and tired or stressed the next.  You are different every time I meet you, but you say the same thing to me nearly every time:  “You’re so lucky.  I wish I could stay home with my children but I just can’t afford it.”

Usually I smile and agree that I am blessed, but quite honestly  I’d like to challenge you.  You say you can’t afford to stay home.  Maybe you can if you’re willing to make some changes.

  • Will you trade in your 2 year old car for a 13 year old mini van?  The side door might not work very well.  Yes, it will break down occasionally on your way to the kids’ dental checkups, but that’s ok.  Your dentist will understand.  Do plan to change a flat every now and then, since you might be driving on older tires.
  • Will you buy your clothes at thrift stores from now on?  I know your clothes aren’t terribly expensive now, but even inexpensive clothes add up when you buy them new.  No, you won’t always be able to wear exactly what you want, but you might find that it’s not such a big deal if you’re spending most of your time at home.  Your kids won’t make fun of your fashion sense.  Well, not unless they’re teens.  Then I can’t vouch for them.
  • You might have to reconsider cable TV.  Anyway, the last thing you need is to watch the average 5 hours/day of TV.  Too much of it is about working moms driving late model cars and wearing all those clothes you won’t be buying.
  • Something as simple as grabbing pizza on Friday night might become a financial decision, carefully weighed out.
  • Your children should expect some changes too.  Ballet lessons, karate lessons, and sports might go on the chopping block.  They might be among the sad minority that does not possess a laptop or cell phone.  They might never visit Disneyland.  Summer camp might even be crossed off the calendar.  Don’t let the guilt get to you.  Just like adults, children are not entitled to all the best in life.   Children need to understand that these things are extras.  They are wants, not needs.  The sooner your children know this, the happier they will be.
  • Would you be willing to sell your house?  If you’re serious about wanting to stay home with your children, this might be what it takes.  Are you willing to live in a smaller, older home, in a lower priced neighborhood?

To sum it up, are you willing to give up a middle class lifestyle?  I know you’re not rich now, but you could get by on less if you really had to.   Is staying home with your children worth that much to you?

I realize that not every situation is the same.  You might be a single mom, struggling just to keep the electric on.  Some churches would help you, but you might not be in that sort of church.

You might be willing to make all the lifestyle changes that would enable you to stay home but your husband insists that you work.

Maybe your husband is disabled, and truly can’t support the family.

Maybe you have other truly extenuating circumstances.

Or maybe you didn’t really mean that you’d love to do it.  Maybe you just meant it might be kinda nice, if you didn’t have to give up any of your current creature comforts.

But maybe, just maybe you really never thought of it this way and now you realize that you can afford to stay home.  Will you do it?

Comments

  1. This is an old post, but I wanted to comment. I think a huge thing to ask yourself is what does Jesus want for your family? If I ask myself this I know the answer is to be home with my children and put all my efforts into supporting my husband and raising my children. Does this take faith YES! Here is another huge thing, if this is a true calling, your husband WILL rise to the occasion. My husband is a bi-vocational pastor. For the past 3 years he has been working 40 hours a week at starbucks and putting in 25-30 hours for the church. God has shown him alot of favor with raises. We also have had money “fall out of the sky”. People randomly wanting to pay for the birth of our babies, someone giving us a down payment for our house, someone giving us furniture money, a women in our church who gives me all three of her daughter’s hand me downs. We live in New Jersey on less than $50,000 a year and have three kids so far. Never in the Bible does God lead someone to step out on faith and then they fall flat on their face. I think my biggest thing would be if God is calling you to be home that takes faith. I never want to question God’s leading in my life, I have seen him do way too many miracles and I don’t the wisdom of man to out way my conviction and calling from the Holy Spirit

  2. I could stay at home, but choose not to, so I don’t feel jealous of SAHM’s. Being a mum is still my main job and focus (I spend more hours being a mum than anything else, and invest more of myself in it, too), but I’m very glad to have my children be raised by a whole group of people: my husband and I, of course, but also their grandparents, uncles and aunts, caretakers, teachers, friends, they all contribute to my children’s upbringing and that’s great. I wouldn’t want to home school my children.

    I must say I love the posts on your modest home. We have three children who share a room (we only have 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom) and get A LOT of comments from friends and family when we say that we don’t want to build an extension (we have to renovate because the house is old, but we’re going to eliminate an extension, instead of making the house bigger). People are really puzzled that we choose to live small, but really we are choosing to live large in shared time (my husband and I both work part time in jobs which may not earn a lot, but which are near our home and which we love, so that we have a lot of time left for our children and are not drained by a job we hate, but do anyway to earn the money to pay for the larger-than-we-need house).

  3. I had to respond to this post, even though it’s a few years old. I can clearly remember being a single working mum, who had to explain to my family that YES – even though I worked full-time, I was going to homeschool my older son (my younger son was in a very small private Christian Kindergarten where my sister worked). They thought I was crazy, and looking back, maybe I was. But I KNEW God was calling me to homeschool and prepare my family for someday when I would be able to Stay at Home.

    I have an education (a good one and debt-free), but the day I was able to make the choice to stay at home with my (at that point 3) kids was the best day of my life. There was a time when staying at home wasn’t an option. Even now, as I am pregnant with what will be my Husband and my 6th child, it would be a lot easier if I went back to work. We could pay our last few debts off faster, and it would make our budget a little less tight. But we live in a safe 3 bedroom apartment. I feed our currently family of 7 on less than $400 a month. And the kids get to do some extra activities. It’s not impossible.

    What was most important to me, though, was that I refused to feel guilty when I had to work. I realized the season in my life and WORKED to make it as short as possible. I made a CHOICE to be a stay at home Mum first and foremost. And I believe God is pleased with MY choice.

    (And I’ve really enjoyed your blog… I just realized I’m coming close to being a “big family”… It kind of snuck up on me!)

  4. Your advice sounds great, but most of this we are already doing and I still have to work to bring in a little bit of money to our family. I wish it was as simple as trading my van for an older one, mine is already 8 years old. As far as shopping at thrift stores, I am already doing that. The only things I buy new are socks and underwear. Everything else are thrift shop, goodwill, or hand-me-downs. I already have to make decisions about if we can afford to grab a pizza or if we will eat at home. My kids do not do any expensive activities, although, I wish we could. We just can’t afford it. You make this sound so east, but the reality is that it is just not an option for me. I wish it was.

  5. I have to chime in with the strangers and passersby who say that you are lucky. Well, not lucky… blessed. 🙂

    I do completely agree with your post. Unfortunately, I really am the rare exception right now! My husband and I have our first on the way… and we are very young… and I am on Medicaid to “afford” having this precious baby. My husband is still in school/working part-time and I work two not very fruitful part-time jobs. We really don’t have a penny to spare (and yes, we have beaten and battered vehicles, no cable, we rent… etc! haha).

    I longingly wait for the day when I can stay home with our little ones!

  6. Ahhh I love this! I get this all the time “you are lucky you can stay home” yet those poeple live in near million dollar homes with speperate bedrooms for each child and drive the latest most expensive cars, it is so much better for your children if you raise them, not someone else.

  7. I was a working mother. Not by choice, necessarily. I was a teacher before I met my husband and continued to teach while raising two daughters. I provided insurance for the family and most of the income. Had my husband had a good job I would have retired in a heartbeat. Lucklily my children attended the school where I taught. Now that I am retired I am very thankful that I had my job. I have a pension that allows my to help care for my grandchildren. Had I not taught I would probably be on public assistance. Sometimes we don’t get what we want but what we need.

  8. I used to be a SAHM for 5 years. Almost 7 years ago I had to go to work at our local grocery store. I still hate leaving every day, and there’s more days than not that I have to sit in the van for a few minutes before I go into work to compose myself and dry my tears. I miss being home with my babies and wish that things could be different. My husband has been out of work for 3 years now following a knee injury that required complicated surgery. Things didn’t heal right and unfortunately he’s no longer able to do the kind of work he’s done all his life (construction). I kind of saw this coming and took steps to become the manager of my department which required odd hours for about a year, BUT now I write my own schedule, have the flexibility I need, and have a few extra minutes every day to call home to say hi. We still homeschool, with my husband teaching some subjects and me teaching the rest when I get home. It’s tiring, and it would be easier if he was working or if the kids were in public school, but after much soul searching and listening to God we feel that we’re doing what’s best for us right now. Thanks for your article (that I’ve read and reread I don’t know how many times!) and hopefully it’ll serve as a reminder to others that those who CAN stay home with their babies need to be thankful.

    • Lisa, thank you for reading carefully enough to hear me say that some do have extenuating circumstances! So many readers in situations like yours get offended and assume I was including them.
      God is good to provide for your family while your husband is injured, even if it’s not the way you would like it to happen.
      Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

  9. I feel hurt by this post, but I know it wasn’t your intention!

    I am one of those people that would say, “you’re so lucky/blessed.” I think some SAHM mom’s assume that not all the necessary sacrifices have been made.

    I am willing to give up every, the only debt we have is our house and student loans. We’ve tied to sell our house, but after a year nothing has happened because of the market. Even if we did sell it, the rent around here for a much, much smaller place is $200 less than our payment now. With my husband out of work, and our student loan/mortgage debt we can’t even begin to pay the bills (let alone food) with the income my husband is bringing in.

    When I see a SAHM mom, I assume that they make a ton of sacrifices, because I know that if (when) I stay home the sacrifices are just a given. I say, “you’re lucky/blessed” because even after all of the sacrifices you can STILL stay home, which is what I want more than anything!

    Please don’t assume everytime you see a working mother that they aren’t willing or haven’t already made the necessary sacrifices.

    • Brit,
      I’m sorry if this felt like it was pointed at you. It was meant for those who choose to work because they don’t want to make the sacrifices necessary to stay home, then feel as is they had no choice. Some people – a few people – truly have no choice. If you are one of those, please accept my apologies and know that I don’t claim to know the circumstances of those I meet.

  10. momofmany says:

    I appreciate your opinion, but I think you are overgeneralizing. I was a stay at home for the past 12 years. I have 5 children ranging from 5-12 yrs old. This past year, I received my Bachelors in Counseling from a wonderful Christian college. I was recently hired as a child welfare worker through our state. Do I have to work…absolutely not, my husband makes well more than enough money for my family. However, I have a passion for the lost, helping children in the foster care system, and helping parents become successful parents. God has put this desire in my heart from the time I was a little girl. While my children were young, I followed my heart and fostered over 60 children in my home. Yes it is tough juggling all aspects of my life, but without a shadow of a doubt, I know that God has placed me right where he wants me to be. My children are so proud when they tell someone that their mom is a social worker that protects children and families.
    Everyone has their own opinion about staying at home and working, but please don’t put others down for their choice. And yes, I am a born-again Christian, so this is not coming from someone who has a chip on their shoulder against christianity. God bless you in your endeavors.

    • Momofmany, I think you missed my point. The letter was not intended for mothers who self consciously choose to work like you. It was for those who talk as if they had no choice – but might, if they were willing to make some hard choices.

  11. I think for me, being a homemaker/mother, is a double edged sword. I really loved being at home after my daughter was born & was sad but excited to go back to work. That was the biggest mistake I ever made. The one I continue to wish for a rewind button, but I’m not sure my hubby would have understood had things not played out like they did. In the end my sister & best friend who was watching my daughter was progressively getting more and more ill from a staph infection she’d apparently been fighting for a while (unknown). Work started treating me like I was coming in and hanging out, despite my taking on extra projects for feeling the tension. 5 years on the job and they were treating me like the new girl. I’m confident that God worked it all out for the best, but I have to admit in my mind I thought stay home would mean, plenty of time to clean and have an always sparkling house (its messier than before) and lots of free time for fun and such. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to have a job & it would in some aspects. Anyway the point I’m trying to make is basically “the grass is always greener on the other side”. As everyone should know by now! Do what you feel is right for you because ultimately on judgement day, you and your husband will be accountable for your children.

    Read the following poem: and join together! The goal is godly children, how we get there isn’t the issue.

    excerpt from Out Of The Spin Cycle: Devotions to Lighten Your Mother Load

    Prologue
    A (Fairly Lame) Ode to Mothers

    An ode to the marvelous woman called “Mother”
    Though not one of us is exactly like another.
    From the second we’re born to the minute we die
    Our preferences are as limitless as stars in the sky.

    We might have been perfectly gracious before
    But childbirth entered us in the Mommy War.
    Rather than letting everyone else be
    We criticize parenting that isn’t exactly like . . . me.

    So once and for all let me put this to rest
    None of us owns the title of “best.”
    Natural childbirth does not make you a hippy
    Epidurals are not just for women who want to feel trippy.

    In a bathtub with a doula or in a hospital bed
    We all got a baby with limbs and a head.
    Nursing is great if nothing goes wrong
    But some nipples turn inward and refuse to play along.

    This is a choice for each mom–it’s her route
    So it’s just A + B and everyone else can C their way out.
    Schedules and timers do not make you cruel
    Feeding on demand does not make you a fool.

    In the nursery with a monitor or in the family bed
    Every chick gets to pick where her baby lays his head.
    If I see one more mom roll her eyes at “organic . . .”
    “Partially hydrogenated” throws some of us into panic.

    But neither judge Sonic burgers and fries
    Some of us just want to enjoy food before we die.
    Preschool, home school, public, or Montessori
    Listen, my friends, and I’ll tell you a story:

    Two moms differed on favorite school trends
    Their kids turned out pretty much the same. The end.
    If a girl gets the title of “mom” accidentally
    The worst thing we can do is treat her judgmentally.

    How about some love, some help, some advice?
    She needs our love and we shouldn’t think twice.
    Discipline through various methods will prevail
    Look, we’re all just trying to keep our kids out of jail.

    These things are just preferences, not right or wrong
    What matters more is teaching our kids to get along–
    To love and to share, to speak gently and kind,
    To obey so that mom won’t go out of her mind.

    Showing them Jesus is our common ground
    Teaching them how he can always be found.
    He’s present in public school and Waldorf (so trendy)
    He’s over at Whole Foods but also at Wendy’s.

    Jesus never cared about these sorts of things
    It’s our hearts that he wants and the worship we bring.
    It’s time for us moms to declare a truce
    Regardless if we buy Capri Sun or 100 percent juice.

    My way is not your way, and your way isn’t mine
    But both of our kids will turn out just fine.
    Rather than judging and looking down our noses
    Let’s enjoy the common ground motherhood poses.

    As believers, we all love the same good Lord
    We all have children who tell us “I’m bored.”
    We all need more sleep than these tiny five hours
    Most of us struggle to find time for a shower.

    We haven’t been to the bathroom alone in an age
    Our mothers have all told us, “Relax, this is just a stage.”
    We all love our babies so much we could die
    We’d take a bullet for each one without batting an eye.

    Though we are different, we’re in the same tribe
    Motherhood requires a similar vibe–
    Love and affection, sacrifice and grace
    Laughter, which keeps the whole mechanism in place.

    Though different, by the grace of God, I suspect:
    ALL our children will rise up and call us … collect.

    She looks well to how things go in her household. … Her children rise up and call her blessed. Proverbs 31:27—28 AMP

    • TxMomma says:

      Before I get into my response to this ” letter”, I have to respond to the post by Rachel. Watching a child for one week does not make you a nanny. It makes you a sitter. I was a nanny before I married and had children of my own. Nannies are part of a child/children’s lives for an extended period of time.

      In response to this letter, it should have been titled “open letter to moms who CHOOSE to work”. The points are valid. As a working mom, all the sacrifices listed have already been made by our family, yet I still have to work for the simple reality of health insurance. I am a teacher. Out health insurance eats up over one third of my salary. We have to have insurance because of medical issues. My husband makes ” too much” for any assistance. He is on staff at a church & they do not provide insurance. So, as much as I would cherish being a SAHM, I settle for two months in the summer, holiday breaks and leave school as soon as I can to get my babies. That is my reality. I have been offered other positions, and I would have made more money, but would have sacrificed the time I am blessed with with my children. I pray the dY comes that I can stay home, but for the time being, I have a peace about what I do. Often, I am the only light of Christ my students see. I have five year olds tell me they wished their moms loved them the way I do. I don’t pass judgement of their moms. Many are single working women trying to provide for their families. I am blessed with women who keep my children in their homes. We are a part of their families. I pray every mom who does not have the opportunity to stay home gets to experience this type of care for their children. My kids even walk up to my s hook for events & I see them walk by every day during my recess duty to wave to me and my students. All of that makes going to work each day during the school year bearable!

      As long as I am walking in the path GOD has directed and am raising my children to believe in Christ and model that daily walk by example, I am doing exactly what God directs. Being a working mom does not make you a lesser Christian.

  12. Maryjo,
    We would be disappointed, but this is an area of jurisdiction. Once our daughters are married, they are under the authority of their husband, and they answer to him and God for their decisions.

  13. At Home Mom says:

    Posting this semi-anonymously because I want to keep our financial information private, but need to provide it to give an overall picture as I address a commenter.

    April said, “I work because I have to work. My husband is currently in school trying to earn a degree so that he can get a job that might support a family. While he’s doing this, he’s working part-time. It’s not enough to pay even the most basic of bills and it doesn’t come with medical insurance. Therefore, I have to work. Sometimes, it’s not a choice, even if you’re willing to scrimp and go down to the basics. Sometimes, it’s a must. You don’t always get everything you want in life.”

    My husband just spent 2 years in college per the Lord’s leading and coupled with much prayer, working only part time the first year while I stayed home and educated our (several) children. Our income was about $800 a month for the first year. After the first year it approximately doubled once his school schedule changed, and now out of school it has approximately tripled.

    In short that first year sucked (sorry for the colorful language) and I found myself crying out to the Lord over and over again, “was this the right choice?”, but you know what…it was the most blessed time ever in the end! We not only learned the difference in needs and wants, but we also learned to do without even the things we originally saw as needs….we learned that even a refrigerator isn’t a need if it’s the right time of year when it goes out!

    Looking back…we never went without food or clothing (which the Lord promises to provide with or without our help) medical care (the Lord kept us ALL well), and the bills were all paid, although yes sometimes late and things were cut off for a short time, but we didn’t die before we could get them turned back on.

    Yes sometimes bills were paid or food was bought with gifts from church members or friends, but that is how the Lord provided for us. We never asked for a penny, yet the Lord was so kind to give.

    So, April (and others) I’m not saying you don’t need to work and provide for your family. That’s not my call to make but one between you, your husband, and the Lord, but the point I am trying to make is this. If you follow the Lord anywhere He leads (even if it’s to a horribly scary at the time place of back to college for your husband making hardly any money and you staying home) He will always make a way for you to keep going!

    “Now” things in our home our awesome, but then again they always were, despite being hard, because the Lord was there too!

  14. just have to say..I am the single mom just trying to keep the electric on…I was 18 at the birth of my first child. I chose life eventhough my own father disowned me for four years because of my doing so. I was soon married and had 2 more beautiful children. I stayed at home and loved every minute of the time i was fortunate enough to have with them. My husband however was abusive. Our marriage ended the night he came home drunk and tried to choke me to death. I soon went from the stay at home homeschooling mom to a single mother trying to survive. Luckily enough for me I am a medical assistant and I became employed within 1 month. I still struggle with the fact that I would love to be at home but CANT! I do not see any way possible to pay for my (older) home and (older car) and feed my children and pay all of the other bills and be at home! There are those of us who would prefer to be at home but unfortunately can not. I also believe that the Lord puts us where he wants us when he wants us there. I have been very blessed. I know that I am doing everything I can for my family and I see daily the blessings God gives us. I have no doubts that Jesus is quite okay with this working mom of 3.

  15. Kim, you are so brave to take on this topic.

    Apparently no matter how many disclaimers you put in a post, no matter how many times you clarify, no matter how kindly and graciously you put it, and no matter how clearly well-intentioned you are, there are those who will call you “hateful” and “judgemental” for not telling them their lifestyle choice is ideal, and others who will insist you have just written something that you never wrote or even implied.

  16. I am a SAHM with a 4 year degree and teaching license. I would never want to leave my sweet baby girl (8 months old) to teach school. I do make a little money (about $35 a week) teaching piano lessons. This was my plan when I decided to major in music education. I got the teaching degree just in case the laws changed to say that homeschool parents have to have a teaching license. I had my baby 1 month after I graduated. I love being a SAHM. My husband is still in college and works 20 hours a week. We live on less than $15,000 a year.

    Some of the moms who commented cannot stay at home. I feel very sad for them. I am very blessed to have parents who would take me and my baby back into their home if something ever happened to my husband. When my baby grows up and gets married, I will let her know that she can always be a SAHM at my house if anything should happen to her husband.

    Someone has to watch your child. Why not you, mom?

  17. “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we
    have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance,
    chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into
    a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
    Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
    and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

    — Melody Beattie

  18. I am glad you have such a conviction about this 🙂 my working was never a question for us. My DH and I were both raised in homes with SAHMs, (mine christian, his not) so it was never really a question for us that I would be a keeper at home. it has often been tight, but God always has provided and our children have never been hungry, naked or destitute *Shock!* imagine, God doing what he said he would! They’ve been rather spoiled materially as well as with attention and love, actually.I praise God every day that he has provided a way for me to stay home and raise my young ‘uns 🙂 That being said, I really do feel for the ladies who need to work to make ends meet just to have a roof over their heads and food on the table. Keep leaning on Christ and he will strengthen you and guide your steps <3

  19. Dear Kim, Thank you so much for responding with a comment to me (and such a gracious and encouraging one)! (Sorry it has taken me so long to thank you.) I definitely am an advocate of a Biblical view of womanhood & motherhood and I love being a Keeper at Home–thank you for speaking about important things–may God bless you for standing firm on His Word! Faithfully-yours, Wendy

  20. Karen_Pancake says:

    I read your blog from time to time, although I have never commented. But this is a matter very sensitive to me, and if you don’t mind hearing the perspective of someone who has no kids yet, here I go. I grew up with a working mom and although I love her to bits, having nannies seriously traumatized me. I would bond with them and then they would go away -or, worse, I would realize that they were not my “sisters” or “friends”, but just employees. Trust me, this is something you do NOT want your child to go through.

    I do not know if I’ll ever have children. For the time being adopting or fostering is out of the question due to not meeting the financial criteria. But if I make it, I doubt I will keep on working full-time. Part-time, maybe, because it takes time and effort in order to become financially stable (and with that I mean not worrying about getting evicted, having food on the table and paying the bills -NOT some fancy lifestyle, I never had one anyway). But in the case I *have* to be away, my kid would be looked after by family. No nannies. No strangers. I would rather go hungry than subject my kid to what I went through.

  21. Seems as if this is a case of the grass is always greener cliche. I’ve lived on both sides and I will admit that it is most definitely a choice. At home I believed it was harder than working in a traditional sense and at work I felt guilty about missing out on my kids “stuff.” There is an in between you know. It’s the one who finds the balance between the two. It’s the mom who is able to earn income from home or work flex hours. In this case, it’s a win-win… and then we can we have the best of both worlds.

  22. Wow, I’ve read everyone’s comments, and this is a very emotional subject. I admit that I felt somewhat defensive when I first read this post, but I think that we need to focus on the fact that everyone is in a different place, and that “all things work together for good to him who loves the Lord.” God is faithful and gives grace to those who are humble, and seek to do his will.

    I was a SAHM for 13 yrs, and homeschooled our 6 kids. We weren’t “responsible” in the world’s eyes by bringing 6 kids into it without proper financial means. We didn’t care, and we’ve poured all our love, hopes and dreams into those kids. My husband has never been able to afford us, and he’s brought us into debt, which looks insurmountable. This led to lots of fighting over money, and lots of discord in our home.

    I love my husband, and though I often thought of leaving him for some peace from the disagreement, and freedom from the debt, (which I considered his and not mine,) where would that have left our children and the family we had created? I would still have had to work, and I would have been parenting on my own, and splitting custody. I knew splitting up was not the answer, no matter where my husband had put us.

    I believe that God has honored my motives, and when I had squeezed the last penny till it screamed, he provided a way for me to go back to school in order to earn a very respectable income (more than my husband had ever made) which made my time away from my children very financially feasible. I was able to work part-time to relieve some of the debt, and to provide basic necissities for my children. When my husband became injured, I began to work fulltime.

    I believe that God is working in my husband’s life, and as he is a hard learner, he’s had a hard time getting his lessons. Yes, the rest of the family is along for the ride (do you know other families like this?) I have always laid the responsibility for our hardships squarely on his shoulders, where they belong, as he is the head of our family. I do not blame him; I simply state the facts as they are. This is hard for him to hear, so we don’t go there very often.

    God has continually blessed me in my career. My husband has not been so blessed, and I feel sure that God is working overtime in his life. After he healed, he decided to return to school, and has now been a student for 5 years. I look forward to him working again to support our family, hopefully with a better income.

    I have had to work not to rescue him. I do not “lord it’ over him, and I know it is hard for his ego. He truly loves me, though, and he has made many difficult changes. He returned to school by his own choice, and although nothing has been easy for him, I have been very supportive of him, and our children have seen our family pull together so that every person may have the benefit of an education and the chance to make a decent living.

    Our children have turned out amazingly healthy, in spite of being forced to go to public school sometimes, seeing parents with great money problems, and the disagreements that go along with. We have homeschooled them over the years as able, even while I have worked fulltime and nightshift. Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don’t, but being flexible has been important for us.

    We have actually lived in two houses, neither of which is sufficient to meet our needs. One is large and ramshackle, which my husband has refused to sell. It is the house we had all the children in, and is far from the city in which I work. I dislike the house as it is in a constant state of remodel, and is difficult to clean. I don’t like a long commute to work, and am often too tired to drive it. I bought a small house in the city which is too small for my husband’s tastes, but which is actually simple and easy to clean. So I make two mortgage payments, which further stretches the budget, and gives us one more thing to disagree on.

    I do not say all this to complain. In spite of our hardships, my husband and I actually enjoy spending time together. We have some sensitiive areas which we avoid in order to have peace. God knows that I would love to be with my children fulltime again. I also know that God has given me this career for a reason, and because of the nature of my work, I am able to be a blessing to many in need. More than that, I always tithe, and I feel that his blessings on my career have been a response to that, as well. He has been merciful in allowing our children to grow up well-adjusted (a miracle!) with a close relationship to each other and to both parents. They know we aren’t perfect (there’s no hiding it) but they also see how God’s grace works in all of our lives.

  23. First, to the mothers, who have no choice but to work, don’t feel “slapped in the face” by Kim’s post or this comment. This comment is not directed to you, and I sympathize with you. I was required to leave my four kids just to attend jury duty and I went through nearly a whole box of kleenex over the prospect. God knows where your heart is, even when people don’t.

    Second, to those who acknowledge that you could stay home with your kids, but you choose not to:
    I don’t understand why you take exception to Kim saying that your reasons for working (be they wages, fulfillment of a dream, whatever) have a greater priority for you than staying home with your kids. I didn’t think their was anything imprecise or offensive about that statement. She wasn’t saying that your kids weren’t your priority, just that staying at home with them, clearly, was not.

    Maybe you should consider why you feel judged by that statement, since it seems to mean the same thing as what you said about yourself.

    It’s been interesting to hear everyone’s opinion on this topic, but I love best when there’s comment on what God says about it all.
    Of course we should show love for all people, but that doesn’t mean we should express approval of what God does not approve.

    Some seem to be suggesting that it’s all one and the same to the Lord whether we stay at home ourselves with our kids, or put them under someone else’s care for the majority of the day while we pursue a career. I’d be interested to know how they back up that point of view with Scripture.

    For those ladies, here are a few verses to consider on the role of women:
    Gen. 1-2 God made woman for the man, to be his helper, and told them to bear fruit and multiply.
    Psalm 127 – Children are called a blessing & reward.
    Titus 2 – God instructs older women to teach younger woman to be “workers at home”, or “homemakers”, to love their husbands and children.

    To my knowledge, the Bible doesn’t say much else about this issue, for or against women working outside the home. Proverbs 31 does give an excellent picture of a godly women, but though it can’t be said that she stayed at home 24/7, neither can it be concluded that she worked outside the home (other than in bringing assistance to the poor and making purchases for the household).

    The Bible also expresses again and again the responsibilities of parents to train their children, and the obligation of children to obey their parents. There is no mention of a third party.

    I can think of some women in the Bible who “worked” outside the home. Ruth was one, who, as a widow, gleaned to provide food for herself and her widowed mother-in-law. Another one is the harlot of Proverbs 7, who sold herself to foolish men. It is said of her: “her feet would not stay at home”. (That verse is not a proof-text for staying home, but does suggest she ought to have been home but rebelled against that.) The former worked outside the home out of necessity, and was blessed; the latter, from selfish ambition, and her end was the way of destruction.

    Taken altogether, that’s clear enough for me. If I needed further persuasion, nature itself shows that mom is best suited to take care of her kids. Even aside from the fact that she’s built to bear and nurse them, there’s also a natural affection she has for her own that a paid employee would not share.

    Anecdotes should have less weight with us than Scripture, but for what it’s worth, here’s one:

    When I was a teen, I filled in as a child’s nanny for one week… and that poor two or three year old child was desperate for her mother. She actually told me that the reason she threw tantrums before and after her mother’s day at work, was because she hoped that would make her mother stay home with her. One day she drew a picture of her family – and guess what? It was of her and all her nannies, past and present. Mommy and Daddy didn’t belong – she drew them off in a corner, at work.
    It was heartbreaking.
    Shortly after I received a phone call from a friend of that family, asking if I could nanny her two year old daughter. I had no desire to do that again. I explained that I felt it was very important for children to have their own mother take care of them.
    She professed agreement. “Oh, I definitely want to do that someday… But I own my own business, you know…. I know just what you’re saying, though… I’ve missed so much of my daughter’s life already… I’ve even missed out on her first steps…!”

    I don’t know if our conversation encouraged her not to miss out on more of her daughter’s life. But I do know that it was this same mother who brought her daughter’s lifeless body into emerg a month later. She had drowned in their hot tub.

    I hope none of you ever have cause to carry the weight of regret that I suspect that woman carries to this day.

  24. Sandra Rosado says:

    Thank you Kim, for your wonderful post! I am in agreement with you. I understand that you were addressing those women who had a SINCERE desire to stay home, in agreement with Titus 2. These women may feel that being a SAHM would be closer to the Lord’s ideal for his daughters. I had to make sacrifices for my family so that I can be there for them, and I thank God that He opened up ways for me, and not all at once, but gradually. This allowed my faith in Him to grow. I love the family He has given me, and that my husband can support us on his income.

    I hope that I am instilling in my children a love for the Lord , and the family, and for their neighbors. I want them to be like my Savior, who in His dying moments, provided for His mother. That is the love I want to teach them, and exemplify in my own life. I want to teach them to be burden bearers, with love in their hearts, because my Savior bears my burdens. I would consider my time at home fruitful, if my children follow their Savior in a life of service, self-denial, and sacrifice.

  25. In our area, there are SAHM like me and many moms who work. Some have to work as they are the only or primary bread winners for the family, whereas some want to work. With the economy the way it is, those families with both parents working did get somewhat of a reprieve when one job was cut or pay decreased, especially those who managed their money well.

    I don’t know any moms that are envious of my staying at home, as a whole, though they may be on occasion . Sometimes I envy tne working moms, especially when my H is stressed about things at work, and afraid of what is happening. Being solely responsible for the family income is a scary thing in this economy.

  26. laura, i feel exactly the same way. 🙁

    melissa

  27. i am saddened that i sense so much judgment and criticism in themany of these comments. All of us work – some at home, some away from home. We are all mothers, and we all want to be good mothers. Whether we work outside the home, in the home, or both, we should be supporting each other. i don’t think anyone can say what another’s priorities are from the outside looking in – just because i work full time does not mean my children are not my priority. Just because I work, does not mean I don’t sacrifice. It doesn’t mean my kids have laptops, cell phones, and designer clothes. In fact, they do not.

    Because my heart is at home, i read a lot of blogs about homemaking, homeschooling, etc. I would like to feel welcome amongst a readership of primarily stay home moms. I’m not sure i do now…..

  28. I would never say I wished I could stay home 24/7. You have my admiration and respect but it’s not for me! I love my children — and I love my job! I do drive a 96 minivan which is currently disabled 🙂 and I am totally clad in thrift store finery, as is the rest of the family (can anyone really tell the difference? Come on). The difference in our case is that my Dh works from home. I could do without TV but when Dad is the stay at home, you defer to his wishes! I do think that if you have children, you need a parent at home. Kudos to you and yours!

  29. Amen!! Great post, thanks for sharing!

  30. Kim I am wondering what you and Perry would think/do if one of your own children decided to be a working mom? You tend to take very strong stands on certain things and I wonder if you ever think about or discuss that issue………

  31. Dody – what sort of business are you in? I’d love to work from home and be with my little one.

  32. I’m a working mom. I am the bread winner. However, I work at home. I wasn’t willing to give up being with my children at all. Why can’t women do that?

  33. Oops! “Bringing”, not “bwringing.”

  34. Christianity is about bwringing glory to God, and His Word is THE blueprint for that. And, it requires self-denial and self-sacrifice. That’s foreign in our society, and, sadly, in many of our churches.
    “God wants me to be happy” isn’t found anywhere in the Bible. Our JOY is made full when we fulfill His plan for us. What is that “plan”? Read the Book. 🙂

    (On a side note, no, the Bible doesn’t say “wear denim and and grind your own wheat.” But it’s not right to make assumptions about those who do that, that they have not love for others and are judgmental! I guess I’m wondering what that has to do with anything…)

  35. Kat in Okinawa says:

    Wow. Have some of you who are so harshly disagreeing with Kim ever thought that just MAYBE you feel so defensive because you DO feel guilty for working? Maybe it’s just me, but if I were a working mom and disagreed with this post completely, I’d just read it and move on. I don’t think any of you would feel the need to disagree so vocally if you were 100% comfortable with your choices.

    I work full-time at a high-paced high-stress job that I happen to love. I don’t have kids, and don’t want them for a while. Maybe ever. I’m Jewish, not Christian. In terms of being “that person” who would seem most likely to disagree with Kim, to hate what she has to say, you’d think I’d be it.

    Yet I’m not. I feel that G-d is using me in the way that He feels is right. I do not feel selfish for working, for not wanting children. If I disagree with something Kim posts, I don’t feel the need to get angry, because I am happy with my choices. Every day I glorify my G-d.

    And every day, Kim glorifies hers.

    Do you?

  36. Kim, I know this post was written to mothers who work but say they wish they could, but this thread seems to have evolved to include all working moms, so I’ll address that. I’m a SAHM, it works for our family. It’s tight, but not that tight. I have cable internet. We have a new-ish car (only one though). We take mini cheap vacations every few years. I waste money at Starbucks. I can honestly say I’d give up these things if I had to in order to stay home with my kiddos. BUT. Would it be biblical for me to be a SAHM in a cardboard box or homeless shelter? Because that’s where some of these women would be if they didn’t work. Frequently DHS removes children from situations like that. So should I risk losing my children to the foster system in the name of being a SAHM? Maybe I’m taking it to the extreme, but in reality, that is a likely scenario for women everywhere. If my Mother hadn’t worked, we’d have been homeless, pure and simple. It wasn’t a matter of giving up luxuries. There were no luxuries.

    One of the things that I dislike about being a more conservative Christian is how some people in this circle tend to measure a persons spirituality based on things like this. If you have fewer children than me, you must not be as spiritual as I am. If you work to put food on the table, you aren’t walking with The Lord. If you grind your own wheat, why, you just moved up a notch or two. And if you have to buy a full size van just to take your kids to the grocery store, you’ve arrived. The more charismatic churches may be lacking something in doctrine, but they have the denim skirt crowd beat in the love and compassion department hands down.

  37. whitney proctor says:

    Come on ladies!! Kim isn’t “judging” you specifically! She’s observing a cultural trend and if you’re honest, despite your own specific circumstances, you will see the same thing…”most working women in some way “choosing” to do so.

    In regards to this topic, I have two points. In my neck of the woods (So. Ca.), I believe that many Christian husbands like their wives adding to the finances by working, NOT because of financial need but because they like their trucks, boats, and motorcycles. This is just my observation of our area…a pretty affluent town where you’d think that ALL women could stay home.

    My other point is that I was raised by two working parents and my mom had the “ideal” job for raising a family-an elementary school teacher. Even with the great hours and vacations off with us kids, I still had a baby-sitter after school every day and envied the kids whose moms picked them up after school and took them directly home. Having a mother home more may have been what I needed to stay out of trouble as a teenager…. just her presence every afternoon. I don’t know……

    We need to make changes within the church that encourage our young women to NOT rack up student loan debt by getting on the career-path (even in Christian colleges) and our young men to train/educate for the type of careers that will provide for a family in their future. That’s our plan with our children.

    To all of the ladies on both sides of this issue… draw near to Jesus and trust Him fully with all areas of your life. Use His word as the plumb line and He will provide answers, guidance, and provision.

    Blessings to you Kim! You are such an encouragement to me!

  38. I have been a SAHM for seven years. Ever since my son was born. I think this post was aimed at those who say they want to stay home without giving up any conviences. There are many moms out there that have to work to provide basic care for their kids. I don’t think anyone was trying to put them down. But we really can do with a lot less. I know some moms are already struggling to buy food and other needs. But some have gotten to attached to what they want. Trust me, God will show you all kinds of miracles when you are trying to feed your family and keep the lights on with no money:)

  39. kathleen gately says:

    Gee, the above comment by “Samantha” leaves me almost speechless…but not quite. “Trying to figure out where old grandma is going to live”? I think not. Those children who this stay at home “old grandma” raised will rise up and call her “blessed” and will lovingly help in the care of their aging Mama. My children who are all under the age of 16 already tell me how they plan to care for me. They love me and I love them. Love is never a burden. Never. And taking care of a woman who birthed you, loved you, raised you, comforted you etc. is not a burden. I plan to take care of my own mother when she needs it, and it will not be a burden. This is the meaning and essence of the word “family”: we take care of, we come along side, we help, WE LOVE. We love with out condition, without expecting the other person to benefit us somehow. How sad that “Samantha” believes that an “old grandma” and her living arrangements are a burden. How sad and yet how typical of our modern culture.

  40. I think your wording “staying home with your children falls below certain other items” shows you actually are being judgmental of that choice to work.

    Time with children doesn’t ever fall below “items,” Do you really think that?

    Perhaps it would have been better for you to say: “You have chosen what is best for YOUR family, which is best for all of us.”

    If you are using food stamps and other programs, God isn’t the only one “providing”… it’s those that do go to work and their families who are helping provide for yours. They get money taken out of their paychecks for the public good. That is actually money taken away from their own families.

    Lots of moms choose to have only two kids because that’s all they can afford without relying on handouts from the government or the goodwill of others. Those moms work to provide for their two children as well as they can so they don’t have to spend their lives worrying about the next disaster that will break the bank.

    So PRAISE working moms and thank them for THEIR sacrifices, because they’re helping other families, too. Maybe even yours.

    And in their sunset years, when your children are trying to figure out where old grandma is gong to live and who is going to pay for her geriatric care, the working mom will be enjoying her retirement in her own home, spending joyous and well-earned time with her grandchildren, being a blessing instead of a burden to her family.

    • Samantha,
      My wording was imprecise. I didn’t mean to make it sound as if they have chosen material things over their children. But I did mean to say that they have chosen to work outside the home rather than be a SAHM. For many – or most – there is a choice involved. It may be a difficult choice, and they may decide that the sacrifices impact their family in ways that they are not willing to accept – but it is a choice.
      As for “trying to figure out where old grandma is going to live and who is going to pay for her geriatric care,” is that how you feel about your parents and grandparents? How very sad.

  41. “You have chosen your priorities, and staying home with your children falls below certain other items. ”

    OUCH. this is why we feel judged.

  42. To everyone who has replied,
    I want to thank you all for the level of courtesy and restraint shown in this discussion. I knew it would be a sensitive topic, and expected some heated debate. I fully expected to moderate with a heavy hand.
    I am thankful that in spite of some raised emotions, you all have behaved like Christian ladies.
    Thank you.
    I hope we can all continue to build up one another as we discuss hard topics.

    To the working moms who would desperately love to stay home,
    Your situation sounds heartbreaking. I’m sorry if you felt as though I was judging you. My goal was to encourage working mothers to examine themselves and their situations carefully. Many have already done that, which is why I smile and agree that I am blessed. Many haven’t, which is why I would really like to tell them what I said in my post.
    Part of the reason I said it here on my blog but have *never* said it in person is the very argument that you and other working mothers have made: I don’t know their situation the way they do.

    To the working moms who *could* make other sacrifices but feel it’s better to be working,
    You seem to have both missed my point and made my point for me.
    You have chosen your priorities, and staying home with your children falls below certain other items. My point was not to judge your priorities or tell you what is best for your family, but to remind you that you *do* have a choice.

  43. I guess *here* is the key thing… that I didn’t respond to before…

    My thought is that a lot of the women who say they’d like to stay home are probably just being nice to you. I’m sure there are plenty of women who want to stay home, or would love to. But if you’re passing someone in a store or on the street, they are likely just *making nice*. Saying something nice to make you feel good.

    Or it is just like when people ask ‘ how are you doing ‘ , but don’t really mean it. While some of these women you are talking to might really want to stay home, i suspect a greater number are just perhaps wistful for a moment. And, then, reality is back.

    There is nothing wrong with being a working mother. Nor is there anything wrong with being a SAHM. They are BOTH hard. (someone said that being a SAHM was the hardest, pshaw. whatever.)

    We working mamas live with guilt every day about how our children are growing up. Some of us truly do not either a) have the ability/means to be SAHM’s or b) do not want to be.

    But even we can daydream on bad days… And you know, I bet I could be one of those who said I wish I could do it… but I really don’t wish that. I’d likely be bored out of my mind. Unless I had more kids. That’s just me. I love my daughter with all my heart. And I try to be away from her as little as possible. But I have to work.

    Anyway, that’s the gist. I don’t believe that *everyone* you talk to who is making nice to you is really wanting to stay at home. If they did, they’d likely find a way. And, yet, there are those who really can’t find a way because they are just too strapped.

    None of these is wrong. We should BOLSTER our Sisters up in love and stop worrying if some of them want to stay home or not. We all have different wants/needs/gifts.

    And, frankly telling someone that their “job” is to be a helpmeet and completely disregarding the rest of Scripture is just harmful. If it is your gift, then that is awesome, and I pray that you feel blessed and content in that. If it isn’t, then I pray that you feel blessed and content in whatever role you choose.

    Melissa

  44. Thank you friend tfor posting this. This is definately worth anyone read. I hope it gets us all thinking about the sacrifice many of us make and most should make for our beautiful little ones.

    We have faced many difficult tasks over the years, some even as I speak right now. But it is well worth living on one income bugdeting to raise our children the best we can and by our beliefs and the quality time we gain with our babies. I would not replace it for anything. I would not have it any other way. So as we go through our struggles we lift our eyes to the heavens and praise God for his unfailing never ending love. This is such a wonderful post again thank you for sharing. I will share this with my followers and link it to your blog.
    Blessings to you!

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