We live in a world where every issue seems to polarize people into two opposing sides, and to have any kind of discussion about any issue means to choose and defend your side against the opposition. The goal isn’t to enlighten or to be enlightened, it’s to make your point and crush your “enemy.” You’re either for something or against it, and therefore either for or against the people who agree or disagree with you. Whether you’re respectful, or charitable, or even civil toward the other side is irrelevant, because, after all, you’re right and they’re idiots. Our lives are like a football game, and we’re the crazed, bare-chested fans screaming obscenities across the stands.
Are stay-at-home moms and working moms enemies?
The whole purpose of this blog is to be a format for encouragement, and one of my fears is that we’ll get drawn into this us vs. them culture as it relates to our topic, stay-at-home motherhood. Being a working mother has always been controversial, and obviously, as a mom, each of us has to decide whether or not to work. But that doesn’t mean that working moms and stay-at-home moms have to be enemies, and I don’t want to be part of the attempt to pit stay-at-home moms against working moms as though we were.
One of my favorite YouTube channels is a vlog by a full-time working mom. I don’t watch her because she’s a working mom, although she talks a lot about how important her career is and what life is like as a working mom. I’m not sure why I like her channel so much, but certainly part of it is that her concerns, and struggles, and even her day-to-day life are a lot like mine, despite the fact that she spends most of her day at work. She recently posted a video about a nasty comment she received from a viewer about how greedy she was and how she valued her job and her income above her children. This viewer even went so far as to say that she would probably end up divorced, and her children would resent her forever because she missed out on their childhood.
The YouTuber’s response was to (very charitably, I thought) tell her viewers that being a working mom does not make you a bad mom, and I wholeheartedly agree with her. Being a working mom does not make you a bad mom, any more than being a stay-at-home mom makes you a good mom.
But…wait. Aren’t I admitting that working moms can be good moms? And that stay-at-home moms can be bad moms? What could possibly be the point of being a stay-at-home mom if not to dominate in the game of motherhood? Well, yes, I am admitting that working moms can be good moms. And that, conversely, being a stay-at-home mom is no guarantee that you’ll do everything (or even most things) right.
So why be a stay-at-home mom?
The point of being a stay-at-home mom is bigger than I can to summarize in one sentence or one post, but I can tell you pretty quickly what the point is NOT: the point of staying home with your children has nothing to do with what other moms are doing. The point is not to be “better” than the mom next door, whose kids are home alone after school while she’s at work. It’s not to be “better” than the mom in your book club who talks more about her promotion than what her kids are doing. It’s not to be “better” than your sister-in-law, who only breastfed her baby for six weeks while she was on maternity leave. Being a stay-at-home mom is not about other moms at all; it’s something you choose to do for the sake of your children, your marriage, and your soul.
It is the best and most important decision a mother will make, but we all need to be careful about how much credit we give ourselves for the good choices we’ve made and how much criticism we heap upon those who have chosen differently. If we are truly striving to be Christ-like, what we want isn’t domination or even really to make our point. What we want is conversion; not to be on the right “side,” but to reveal the Truth, and for the light of Truth to drive out the darkness in the hearts of those who have been deceived.
Our mission as stay-at-home moms
So how exactly do we reveal the truth to people in our day-to-day lives? How do we counteract the discord and hate that seem to be everywhere and reach out, instead, with love?
We can’t. Not on our own. First, we need God. Love – real love – isn’t possible without Him. But also, we need each other. We need practical advice and encouragement from other people who share our vision.
Our prayer for Radical Motherhood in 2021 is that, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, we can transform this blog into a source of encouragement and community for stay-at-home-moms, to help you to be a witness not only to your children, but to other moms and to everyone around you. Our families need us desperately; our culture needs us desperately. The most important place we can be, the place where we wield the power to change the world, isn’t behind a desk, at a press conference, or in a boardroom; it’s in our own homes.
As William Ross Wallace once wrote:
Woman, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal sod;
Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.