Katie Luther Sisters — The Lutheran Working Mother

Found over on our new sister website, Katie Luther Sisters.

 

Snuggling in the SunshineI always imagined that I would be a stay at home mom. My mom worked outside the home, in a community filled with housewives. There were times I thought I was missing out, not having my mom be a room mother, or hosting fun swim parties in the summer.

I attended college, earned a degree, and hoped for a good job to hold me over until I had children “someday”. Someday came quickly. Our first son was born a few weeks after our first anniversary. He was followed by three brothers and set of twin sisters.

I enjoyed my time as a stay at home mom. But, the truth is, six children are expensive, especially on a pastor salary, especially with college on the horizon.

During our son’s junior year of High school, we began to re-evaluate my career plans. I had often tossed about the idea of going “back to work” when the youngest was in kindergarten. At the time, our girls were three. Two more years may be too late to fund college–and our oldest was definitely college bound.

I began looking at job postings casually, and then more fervently. A few months later, I found the “perfect” job as a development director for a statewide non-profit. I had all of the qualifications, and I had plenty of volunteer fundraising experience under my belt from my stay at home mom days.

I did get the job.

We scrambled, and even punted a few times in making childcare decisions.

It was not always a smooth transition.

But it was right, it was right for our family, it was right for our community, it was right for the constituents I serve, it was right for my co-workers.

I found the biggest amount of backlash came from fellow Christian women. There are those within the Christian community who think that the only proper vocation for a married woman is that of wife and mother.  Anything else is a.) abandoning the primary vocation of wife and mother and/or b.) placing someone or something in the place of the husband/father.

This was hurtful. As much as I enjoyed being a stay at home mother, I always had a nagging feeling that I needed to be doing more. I felt like I could help our family’s financial situation. I am not a gifted homekeeper. I did not find satisfaction in neatly folded piles of laundry. . . . Though I tried. I found, that even though I was home with my kids, I was still not the great PTA mom that I wished my mom would have been.

I just felt like there had to be more for me. I threw myself into my Sunday School teacher duties. I planned church and women’s events. These outside endeavors helped, but still did not fill my urge to work.

And I realized that we women, even Christian women, can be so cruel. I had been fed the line, and began to believe it, that women only worked outside the home because they were selfish and were striving for more “things”. I was led to believe that were I to work outside the home, my income would be a “wash” after all of my working expenses added up. I was led to believe that I would have no time for my kids if I was working outside of the home.

My friends, this is simply not true.

My foray into the working world did NOT collapse my family. In fact, if has allowed my oldest to attend University without taking on student loan debt. It has sent a few boys to Boy Scout camp. It has helped pay for gymnastics for a few busy preschool girls, and it is funding tuition for a son to sing in the community children’s choir. Without me working,  I do not think we would have been able to do these things. Yes, these are not needs, they are wants, but they also have helped round out our children’s lives.

My foray into the working world has allowed us to re-roof the house, put on a fresh coat of paint and purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle.

Contrary to what the nay-sayers might think. . .I still don’t have a smart phone or a designer purse, or professionally manicured nails. For a few more months, a large portion of my take home pay goes toward child care.

I’ve been able to give more generously to church and others in need. I’ve learned to manage my time better, and to enjoy my time at home with family. My children have learned to pitch-in more fully to help run the household.

The children are proud of what I do, and volunteer their time at events that I help organize.

As I learn more and more about the doctrine of vocation, I learn that there is no command for a woman to only serve at home, and that it is not denying my vocation as wife and mother to also serve others outside of the home. While some women are perfectly content to be keepers of the home, we need to be careful not to make that a law.

Come to think of it. . . . I just may be getting closer to that “ideal” Proverbs 31 woman every day!

By Pam Thompson

Photo credit: “Snuggling in the Sunshine” by Kirsten Jennings licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Comments

Katie Luther Sisters — The Lutheran Working Mother — 8 Comments

  1. “I always had a nagging feeling that I needed to be doing more. I felt like I could help our family’s financial situation. I am not a gifted homekeeper. I did not find satisfaction in neatly folded piles of laundry. . . . Though I tried. I found, that even though I was home with my kids, I was still not the great PTA mom that I wished my mom would have been.”

    Do you not see how condescending this sort of comment is? How, dare I say it, hurtful?

    You are implying that women who stay home only do so to have a neat house, well-folded laundry and go to PTA meetings.

    Your young children need your presence more than your older children need a college fund, generally speaking. BUT,given that you feel neatly folded laundry and PTA are the only aspects of an at-home mom’s vocation, well, you probably are better off working. Your children will do better than had you stayed at home.

    If you do not ‘get’ the joy, the magic, of serving your family and your neighborhood as a homemaker, you best leave those things to other women. Stuff is really important to some folk, and it is hard to make do with less, for sure.

    When I had youngins at home, we never made over 30k a year(family of six). Kids had to make their own way through college, and you know what…they did it almost entirely on their own. We got a new roof after they were out of the house….I know…the horror of living with an old one!

    But honestly…the blather about how homemaking just didn’t suit your whiz-bang brain and energy does NOT negate the vocation God gave you: to your children, esp under the age of six or so. Placing them out of your care for a full-time job before that is not a good thing. They need you. God gave them to you. Learn to be humble and do the little things with patience and gentleness. BE a(dare say it?) mostly worker-at-home. Plenty of time to impress the world when the kiddos get into school full-time. 😀

  2. Thank you to above commenter (#1 Elizabeth) for demonstrating just what the author said when she said Christian women can be cruel. Also, you get 10 extra points for restating the same falsehoods the author just exposed.

  3. Donna, I have two polite questions for you:

    1) How was Elizabeth cruel? (Maybe she was. Maybe she wasn’t. I just want to know what you’re talking about.)

    2) What falsehoods did she speak? (I couldn’t find any.)

  4. “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

    Honestly not to say that there are never circumstances where moms need to work outside the home, but that simply isn’t the way it should be. Vocation isn’t about license to do whatever you feel like doing and calling it holy, it’s about God’s design for creation, that everything be done decently and in good order.

  5. I am a working mother of four children married to a pastor. I long to be a stay at home mom and I think this article is PERFECT! You may not believe what she is doing is right for your family, but she is doing what’s right for her family. She has taken a stand and made a decision. She is content!!Let’s support her.

  6. Jennifer, I honestly don’t understand how you both long to be a stay at home mom and at the same time think this article is perfect. I know women who work and wish they could stay home but can’t. This article doesn’t do anything to encourage them. These women bear a cross – and maybe you do too. But Pam, in her article, seeks to present the cross as a self-elected honor that makes her ostensibly more useful than a home-bound mother instead. Pam clearly does not long to be a stay at home mom. She longed to find fulfillment outside of the home. She said so. And she spends her words defending this choice …. oh, and they needed the money (but that was not the main point she made).

  7. James, I though so much about this last night. I now see that you are right. I am so unhappy with where I currently am that I don’t want anyone else to feel this way even if it was at the opposite end of the spectrum. I pray that she learns something from all of these comments. I appreciate the care and concern.

  8. Comments disabled here — comment further on this post over on the Sisters of Katie Luther website.

    This was our first repost from the SKL site, and we hadn’t yet established how posts would look here. All further posts are simply an excerpt then a link to the SKL site.

    Thanks, Norm