There’s been a lot of talk lately about the stay at home life. And views about this topic tend to be quite strong. From staying at home is a waste of a woman’s time and talents, to a woman working outside the home after marriage is a demonic invention. Yikes!
So, with all this talk going on, I thought I’d look at how the “stay at home life” affects our family, and make note of what others are saying with links to further examinations of the stay at home life.
Student to Stay at Home: My Journey
When I was nearing the end of my high school career I didn’t want to go to university. I had top grades (and was in the top ten students of my year for two out of four years. I also loved learning. But I also felt that university would be an expensive waste of money. At first I was talked into a two year writing diploma. Then the professors convinced me I needed a four year degree to be able to do anything.
And then I got married. During my fourth and final year.
Thankfully, only two years of my university degree required student loans. But I still have trouble with that. I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom and homeschool. Once I became a wife, I also became a mama. (Little Fox was born just a few days past nine months after our wedding date). So, the assumed plan of at least working off my student debt before marriage didn’t happen. I had never thought of being a stay at home wife before becoming a stay at home mom.
In hindsight, my husband and I (though just dating but quite sure God was calling us to marriage at the time) should have had a talk about my future before I enrolled in my third year of university. I was moving out of my mother’s house due to her toxic treatment of me and the faith (which extended to my husband and his family as well). We just assumed I should finish my degree rather than end off at the writing diploma.
I wasn’t thinking about my future – staying at home.
It never occurred to us that I should look for work at least until we were married. That I wouldn’t need the degree. That if we didn’t have children right away, it would still be valuable for me to be a stay at home wife and have some time to learn the domestic skills I didn’t obtain while growing up. Even now, while I have two children, I feel like I’m playing catch-up. I still only have my learners drivers license. Cooking is a scary subject to me, like math is to other people. Before my own children, I hardly had any experience with children. Although I learn a lot from reading books now, I didn’t have much chance to pick up knowledge and skills for family life before the birth of my children.
Anyhow, I went from university student life to the mom life with only a few months of nesting to ease the transition. My husband was still in school himself, having taken time to work to help support me through my time at university. And I knew, now that I had a child, I was going to be staying home. It has always been my dream to homeschool and have a large family. Though technically possible, going out to work and following that path didn’t make sense to us.
Challenges in Today’s Culture
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
So I was going to be staying home. And I knew it was going to be harder on the finances. At least we were never going to fall into the two-income-trap. But other than that, I had little understanding of just how difficult staying at home is.
I’m not going to get into a big discussion of feminism here. But I will say that feminism has made it harder for women who want to be homemakers to stay at home. Saying that women have to go outside the home to do valuable work and contribute to society sends the message that home life is not valuable. It says that laundry, cooking, dishes, and other at-home activities are unimportant. And that anyone who spends their life doing those things is wasting their days away. And now we feel like it’s true.
So here I am, at home with a university education, doing work that society says is worthless. That instead I should be doing something worthwhile outside the home. That because “women’s work” is invisible it means a lack of accomplishment.
Thankfully, that is not Catholic teaching.
In the “good old days” the neighbourhood was filled with moms staying at home with their children. There were women to talk to during the day, and other children to play with nearby. We’ve lost that “neighbourhood to raise a child” society. Now stay at home wives are home alone all day. There just isn’t as much support in the community available for the stay at home vocation.
National Catholic Register has two great articles on this topic. The first one addresses four major challenges for stay at home moms (we aren’t prepared for it, it is lonely, kids are undervalued, and family support isn’t as accessible). The second post is a response to the first article. And it talks about some solutions to these problems.
The Glory of Staying at Home
Staying at home means I get to spend my time building a family culture. I spend my time learning how I can support our domestic church. And modelling the faith for my children. By staying at home, I am able to bring my children up centred in family life. They get to be apart of all the work that I do at home. Instead of seeing household activities as chores, they witness and participate as we go about our day to day lives. It’s not always easy (or even usually). But being their for the smiles and cuddles, the triumphs and the struggles… there is no greater reward for one’s work than that.
For mom’s who can drive, it provides opportunity for going to church daily, and doing shopping during slower shop hours.
And even without that, I have the freedom to pursue talents, gifts, hobbies in ways that I couldn’t if I were working full or even part time. I love being able to spend a rainy day reading and curled up on the couch. And my eldest brings new books to read over when she wants to cuddle too. Writing has always been my number one hobby, which is why I love blogging. I don’t enjoy cleaning, but organizing the home is fun and I need a clean home to do that. When my children nap, I have time for video games or other fun/self care activities.
Some Other Perspectives
- Matt Fradd and Tim Gordon talk about working and stay at home wives in their talk here: https://youtube.com/watch?v=jE3b_1EmYKQ
- There is an upcoming Trent Horn and Timothy Gordon podcast on this topic on Trent Horn’s Counsel of Trent https://www.catholic.com/audio/cot.
- Perspective from a working mom: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecatholicworkingmother/2019/02/what-does-the-catholic-church-teach-about-working-mothers/
- Perspective from a stay at home mom: https://catholicexchange.com/easing-loneliness-stay-home-moms
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