In reading some of the latest articles about women in the workplace I realized there is still a double standard that is somewhat being ignored. When the children need something, in many homes, it is the mother who must figure out how to provide. Sure, many fathers do some things- but usually only when they have free time. It is the mothers who are called to sacrifice. (Some Dads are different, and I give them kudos, but they are still not the norm.) For a father, career comes first. If it interferes with his career, then it is not negotiable.
Now someone has to take care of the kids. Scripturally they are to be our first priority, and even if you do not believe in scripture, you probably agree that they need some taking care of. The problem is: Who is going to do the work?
Do both spouses make sacrifices in their careers so that their children succeed, but neither spouse gets as far ahead as they would like? Does a nanny raise them? Does one spouse decide that a high-powered successful career is just not going to be the plan for their life, and stay home? (This is what I did. There are regrets. Don’t believe the moms who say they wouldn’t change it for the world, and you will feel the same if you do. Many are lost when their kids leave, and now need to find where they fit in the world 20 years later, and working under a 20 something manager who has the common sense of a flea is not it.)
So what can we do? Two parents with successful careers often leave little time for anything else. Something must give if the children are to succeed as well.
It probably begins with the first date. If you are a woman, and you want to be more than a ‘mom’ then you need to marry a man who will bend. When his job requires him to be out of town frequently, so there is no one but you home, what will he do? Will he leave you to handle it all without even a discussion, or will there be a serious conversation about how this change affects both of your lives?
Being a stay-at-home mom is a great option for your husband and kids, but can you do it? Some of us need more. If you live in a world with little adult contact and nothing to challenge you (other than how to get the latest object out of the toilet this time), will go you nuts? Add to that mothers’ groups that are organized by the person least fit to be an administrator, when you are equipped to be a CEO, and you have a recipe for disaster. (Killing her is not an option, and if you take over and run the group like a company the other mothers will hate you. This is a place where everyone is ‘nice’ to each other, so there is never any controversy or confrontation and it is wrong of you to think that either one of those things might be ‘healthy.’)
How did I do it? You’re not going to like my answer. It’s not the typical answer, and not for everyone. I adopted three older children with behavioral issues, while my children were 4, 3, 2 and newborn. It kept me busy. I had to keep one from blinding siblings by stabbing them in the eye, or kicking the baby for distance as she crawled. Another was desperately trying to get into the pants of the naïve church girls whose parents kept telling me I was over-reacting and that all of this was ‘innocent’ at his age. (Bull!) And the other was finding ways to steal and cheat in school that landed us a meeting with the principle where they admitted not knowing what to do with him because they have never had a child do these things so young. (I told you this was not the solution for most of you!)
Truth is, I don’t know how to do it. The children I adopted are now doing fairly well in the world, considering and have moved out of the house. (Something many children without their struggles have failed to do at their age… so kudos to them.) My younger children are also doing well. The oldest of them is starting college this fall, and the younger three are easy comparatively, so I am bored. My answer is to blog and write. Not at all what I am most skilled at, but it will do, and hopefully someone will benefit from it.
Your answer? I don’t know. This is something you and your husband will have to have long, serious conversations about. But you must be honest. If you love being at home and never want to ‘work’ a day in your life, kudos to you. But if monotony and housecleaning drive you absolutely out of your mind, then you and your spouse have some things to figure out. Just don’t be naïve. Kids take time, and need you to raise them well. Something has to give. When one spouse dumps it on the other in the final minutes of a catastrophe, that’s when marital strife, resentment and depression begin. You can’t do everything in life. But life is best when the decisions as to what to give up and how to manage things are made early, and together, so that neither person feels like everything is dumped on them.
Remember, ‘No taxation without representation’ was about the frustration of not having a say in your life; not about the money…