Stay-at-Home/Working Mother Symbiosis

I could start by saying that my (our) choice for me to be a stay at home mother is one of the most important we have made. (It is).

I could also start by saying that I think that staying at home is more than just a sign of our privilege and affluence; that we would have to be pretty darn destitute, and would cut lots of other things before we seriously entertained my entering the workforce as a solution. (Also true).

I could tell you how important time with mother, especially in a child’s early life is. (Spoiler: it’s really, really important).

But really, what I want to talk about now is the fact that I am grateful for working mothers. While we all feel compelled to defend or champion our lifestyles, it’s very freeing to take a step back, take a deep breath, and realize that stay at home mommery and working mommery don’t need to be at war with each other. In fact, they can be symbiotic institutions.

Aren’t we meant to help each other?

If all our strengths and virtues and vulnerabilities and liabilities were the same, caring for one another would be a difficult task indeed.

So. Symbiosis. Mutually beneficial relationship.

Once upon a time, one of my dearest friends was (still is) a jail chaplain at the county jail. I met her through a neighbor who was incarcerated. We were both deeply invested in helping this neighbor and her little daughter, and through this mutual concern, a life altering friendship grew.

Here’s what else we had in common: we both had children and we both were pregnant.

My time with my babies and toddlers is special and sacred. I am where God needs me to be. It breaks my heart to think of spending 40 hours a week away from my little ones.

But.

My jail chaplain’s time in the county jail was special and sacred. She was where God needed her to be. It breaks my heart to think of what would have become of my neighbor, me, and my future foster daughter if she hadn’t been where she was to counsel and minister. She has since returned to stay at home with her kids, because she felt that that’s where God wants her. I believe her when she says this, and I also believe that her working in the jail when we all needed her was also divinely appointed.

Is being a stay at home Mom important to me? Oh yes. But I am indebted to this woman who did not stay at home. The same goes for my foster daughter’s social worker, my children’s phenomenal pediatrician, for a string of gifted music teachers who have coached our children, and countless other women who have supported my family with their work outside the home.

Recently, another mother I love and admire had a child suspended from school for a week. She could not take off work, but me? My work is at home. The primary point of my main occupation is “being there for people.” The vast majority of the time “people” means my husband and children, but I also consider it a part of my calling and vocation to be available for these exact circumstances–for the boy whose mother can’t take off work for a week, for the Grandma dealing with the emergency foster placement of her grandchildren, for the neighbor child whose parent relapsed. I am here for them. That is part of my job.

I need working women, working mothers. And they need me. I could write a whole other blog post on why I think staying at home is important and best for my children and best for me, and why I think society has harmed itself, and women in particular, by devaluing stay at home motherhood (I probably will), but really, above and beyond that, I’d just like to acknowledge that we need each other. That we’re put on this earth and in our particular circumstances to lift each other. And I’m  grateful, so very grateful, for what I’ve been given and what I can give.

The End.

 

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