But there’s an enormous gulf now between “has to work” and “wants to work.” The gulf was a complicated build, and now we can’t even remember the “norm”, when women stayed at home because, well, there was a household to run and important lives who depended on her, and it didn’t matter that they couldn’t afford new socks–it was her job to darn them so they didn’t have to.
No, our generation doesn’t remember because they were told another story. They were told that women were home because they *had* to be, (not because it best served their families) and that one little word touches a rebellious chord in us and we jump on the band wagon to “save women from oppression”. We think “stay” is a derogatory word and though all good sense said that a healthy family needs someone devoted to nurturing it, we passed up the job.
That’s not really what the post is about, but I can never just start in the middle
So now women, some of whom are entertaining the thoughts of coming back home (more and more exhausted working women are getting tired of the “have-it-all” lie and realize home comes closer to anything that offers “all”), don’t know about the art and profession of making a home and are asking, “but what do I do?”
Which strikes a veteran SAHM as comical, because she knows that tasks and opportunities alike present themselves faster than she can ever keep up.
And because readership of this blog makes up a widely-varied audience, I thought it timely to go back-to-basics for a moment and visit the question, “What does a stay-at-home mom do all day?” That is, what does a woman wishing to follow a Proverbs 31 model do?
Remember though...a list of what she “could” do is not the same as what she “should” do. Each woman is in a different season of life, some seasons allowing for greater opportunities than others. Some are merely surviving with the basics during a busy season; others are finding time to flourish in their gifts and abilities. But we could all study to be more efficient and become a better home-builders.
- She studies to provide at least somewhat healthy, somewhat economical meals for her family. This can be a time-consuming job, but there are books written solely on the art of cooking and the incredible ministry found in entertaining your family and friends through the hospitality of the kitchen. Study it! (Another word about the ministry of hospitality soon!) Just in the area of health alone, America is experiencing an epidemic of illness, largely from consuming so much pre-packaged food, a choice usually necessary to maintain the over-booked lives we live.
- If the Lord has given her children, she pours herself into their training, nurturing and developing. Another full time job almost by itself. If not, there are a myriad of “mothering” and ministering opportunities sorely in need of a servant-minded woman.
- She helps her husband. This varies widely from home to home. But much like an administrative assistant, she can be a “crown to her husband” instead of forcing him to hire another woman for that role. This is where “the heart of her husband safely trusts her” as she runs a household and “he has no lack of gain”.
- She studies to keep her marriage happy. The dearth of happy marriages–of marriages at all–is staggering. Good marriages don’t just happen. If they aren’t tended, they’ll wilt.
- She studies to save money, to make her home a warm, inviting place, to treat minor illnesses, to repair things (darning socks, repairing appliances, bandaging wounds–a mother is always repairing things), to make things, to plant things, to be busy with her hands. Books are written–there is no end to this art.
- She engages in meaningful conversation with her children. An often underrated, but vitally important job in their education–homeschooled or not.
- She “reaches”. (“She reaches her hand to the needy”. Proverbs 31) Whether this be the meeting of a physical need for the poor, or a need of a fellow believer, needs abound. Many needs could be met in the form of an encouraging card, phone call or visit. It’s just a suggestion, but maybe Prozac has largely filled our lack of availability to hurting women.
- She earns money. Home industries are easier than ever to begin. Saving money and making money are doable activities for the SAHM.
- She mentors other moms.
- She takes care of extended family members. Nursing homes are new.
And I shall close for now, because I have lots of things to do today. Help me, each one of you, where you are, resurrect the art of homemaking. We need homes…they’re actually pretty rare.