Mothers Who Stay Home: Do They Work?

Is Being a Stay Home Mom Easy?

What do mother's who stay home do all day?  I am writing this article because of two conversations that took place. The first conversation took place between a mother and her 20 year old son attending his second year of undergratuate school, and the second conversation took place between a (different) mother and her 11 year old son.  I believe young men and older men will treat the women in their lives in specific ways based on the knowledge they have about this subject.  Read on, dear audience, and think about how your attitude towards the women in  your life reflect your beliefs on this subject.

Here is a synopsis of the first conversation:

Mother: "Sweetie, I need you to make sure you are home for the holidays on time.  There has been a lot of stress in my life lately, and I would enjoy spending time with the whole family at home for Christmas."  

Son: "Really, mom? Come on, what could you possibly be stressed about?  You have no stress.  Your life is so easy.  You don't work, all of your kids are pretty much grown up now, and dad pays for everything you want or need."

Let me interrupt here by giving you a little bit of background on this Mother.  This mother is 50 years old.  She is smart, beautiful, talented, strong, and beyond generous.  She married her husband after five years of dating, while he obtained his law degree.  She supported herself up until her marriage, when she chose to stay home, to raise their children, and to be a full time homemaker & mother.  She chose this path because pouring her gifts and talents into her husband and children instead of to a boss, a corporation, or a stranger was her greatest delight.  She gave 20+ years of her life, her mind, her body, her energy, her resources, her strength, and her passion to the people she cherished the most.  Right or wrong, this was her choice.  Sadly, her son responded with inexplicable ignorance of this knowledge.  So she tries to explain again.

Mother: "Son, let me explain why I am stressed.  I know my life seems easy.  My life is blessed, but it is not easy.  Even though you do not live at home anymore, there are still four other people who live at home.  Dad, your younger brother (who is still in high school), and your sister, (who chose to go to Community College instead of University).  Every day, I get up and clean the house. I clean up after your brother, sister, and your Dad.  I buy groceries, I do the laundry, I cook our meals.  I take care of our dogs.  I take care of the house.  Every year, I decorate the house for Christmas.  I decorate the tree.  I buy all the gifts.  I wrap all the gifts.  I plan out of town trips for our family.  I drive your brother to & from school, drive him to & from tutoring classes.  I take care of your sister.  I  juggle all of the details of our family and this household.  If I didn't do what I do, you would not have a home to visit during your school breaks.  There wouldn't be food in the pantry.  There would not be clean laundry.  There would not be holiday decorations.  There would not be presents under the tree.  There would not be exciting and fun family trips.  If I did not pour my energy, time, and creativity into this family, who would do it?  Your Dad? You? Your brother or sister?  I do all of it with pleasure because my reward is time we all spend together as a family.  Family time is the most precious gift you all can reciprocate to me if you want to show your love for me."

Son: "Really, mom?  All that is not stressful!  You want to know what stress is, try taking Midterm Exams.  That is real stress."

Here is a son that has been given everything a human being could possibly desire.  He was raised in a loving home with siblings, happily married parents, material wealth, private school, travel, and most importantly, the emotional and financial freedom to pursue his dreams.  All this bestowed by his parents.  And yet, he does not reflect any knowledge that his amazing life comes directly from having a stay-at-home mom.  He does not make any connection to the incredible life he has, to the choices his mother made.  I believe many children and husbands don't make the connection in their hearts and minds to the fact that they have an incredibly easy and stress-free life as a direct result of the choice made by the mothers in their lives to be a-stay-at-home mother.  Read on to the second conversation I mentioned in the first paragraph to see this connection first hand.

And on a side note, if you doubt my statements in the above paragraph, just ask any child of divorced parents, ask any orphan, ask any foster child, ask any husband whose wife is busy with a career outside of the home--all who rarely see each other, or their children because both parents are deeply embedded in crazy, busy careers that prevent anyone from keeping up with the daily and often mundane--but necessary--tasks required of making a house a peaceful home, making a diverse group of people a family full of love, and transforming an institution into a legacy for generations to come.  

Here is a synopsis of the second conversation:

Son: "Mom, if it takes me 5 minutes to feed the cat, then if I feed the cat 12 times, it comes to one hour. Right?"

Mother: "Yes, that is right, you will have spent one hour feeding the cat if you add up 12 times of five-minute feedings.  Actually, this simple equation makes me think of a way you can more easily understand the work of a mother.  So let me ask you a question, dear.  How many minutes does it take for mommy to make a meal for you and the family?

Son: "Well, it depends on what you are cooking.  Maybe 30 minutes or more?"

Mother: "Ok, since some meals take longer to prepare and some take a shorter time, let's take an average of 60 minutes or 1 hour per meal to take into consideration preparation, eating, and clean-up.  How many meals do we usually eat per day?

Son: "3"

Mother: "Yes, so 3 hours per day are usually taken up with meals.  Now let's do the same thing with laundry.  I don't do laundry every single day, but when I do, I average 4 hours on laundry.   What about buying groceries and putting them away in the refrigerator and pantry?  Again, I don't shop for groceries everyday, but when I do, I average 4 hours buying groceries and non-food items and putting them away when I return home."  If I wake up at 6am, and I cook three meals, buy groceries, and finish the laundry how many hours of work have I completed? And what time would I be done with my work for the day?

Son: "11 hours of work completed by 5pm.

Mother:  "Good.  Now let's point out some of the other jobs mommy completes day to day and week by week.  I have to clean and organize the house:  Mop the floors, vacuum the carpets, dust the furniture, and fixtures, wipe the appliances and cabinets, scrub the tubs and showers, disinfect the toilets and sinks.  Clean the mirrors, blinds, and window sills.  Organize clutter left out by various family members such as mail, clothing, books, coupons, receipts, toys, towels, and other miscellaneous items.  This takes an average of 5 hours and these tasks are usually spread throughout the days and weeks to maintain good hygiene and order in the household.  Then consider the amount of time it takes me to drive you and your sister back and forth to your after-school activities every day.  That takes an average of 3 hours per day.  And what if mommy wanted to take a shower, blow dry my hair, get dressed up and put on make-up?  That is an average of 2 hours.  Then how much time does it take to exercise and go to the gym or go for a run? How important do you think it is for mommy to take care of her health? Let's give it 1 hour average for exercise."

Son: "Oh, come on mom, seriously? You don't HAVE to take a shower and blow dry your hair every day!"

Mother: "Well, let me ask you something?  Do you think your daddy wants to have a beautiful wife who looks nice and takes care of herself?  Do you think there are men out in the world who leave their tired, haggard, and over-weight wives for younger and thinner ladies instead?  Do you think staying fit is important to your daddy?"

Son: "O.k., I see your point."

Mother:  "So let's add up the hours of work I have outlined so far: Meal Prep=3 hours, laundry=4 hours, groceries=4 hours, house cleaning & organization=5 hours, personal care & exercise=3 hours, taxi kids=3 hours.  Total hours of work so far = 22 hours."

Son: "Wow.  Mom, you don't have to say anymore.  You've proven to me you are a hard worker!"

Mother:  "Really?  But, I haven't covered all the jobs I do yet?  What about the time I spend homeschooling you and your sister? What about the hours I help your father with the family business regarding taxes and legal issues?  What about the times that I teach you about God and the Bible?  What about the time mommy invests in fostering friendships and building community within the different social circles we enter such as church, homeschool groups, sports teams, neighbors, business clients and relatives on both sides of our family?  Then, there is also the side jobs mommy takes on for extra spending money so we can travel and have nice things?  What about the time mommy takes to buy birthday gifts, wedding gifts, or even just keep up with the clothes you and your sister require every few weeks, based on your growth spurts and the changing seasons?"

Son: "I never thought about all that..."

Mother:  "I know.  I don't receive a paycheck for all I do.  I don't even have a way to define everything I do.  It's different for every mother.  But I can tell you that at the core of every mother is her desire to love her husband and children.  She is not perfect.  But all mothers give and give and give.  In return, I believe mothers want to be cherished with words and actions from their loved ones.  They want to believe the crazy job of motherhood they have chosen is not only valuable and precious, but worthy of all the years of sacrifice a woman will bestow upon her greatest treasures: her children and yes, her husband too."

In conclusion, I want you, the reader, to consider this:  If mothers don't do what they do, who will do it?  Ask a homeless person if they miss having a mother.  Ask an orphan if they imagine having a clean house to call home?  Ask a series of children being shuffled to and fro from one divorced parent to another what they would give to have their mom and dad back together.  To have order and stability.  To have the invisible framework of family that cannot be put into words...that feeling of walking through the door after a long battle against the world, and when you look up, there is Mom.  There is warmth.  There is food.  Your clothes are clean and in order.  Your bathroom is clean.  There is enough toilet paper.  Your stuff is safe and organized. The smell of mom, dad, and your brothers and sisters and all your stuff fills your nostrils and your brain.  Suddenly, you can rest.  You can smile.  The opposite of all this would be unthinkable.  Yes, a mother who gives her life for her family is truly the helper God intended from the beginning.  She is not the savior of your soul, but she is the saviour of the family-home life we all crave and sigh about when illustrated in movies, commercials, and every art form created.

On a final note, I do want to point out (without getting into much detail, as this would be the content of another article), that without a loving husband who was willing to be the sole bread winner, a stay-at-home mom could not do what she does.  So, yes it is the partnership of both husband and wife, mother and father that makes a house, a home.  They both with their various gifts and talents bring value to the home life via love, provision, protection, organization, and the list goes on.