Thursday, February 28, 2008


Me being speechless; it's a rarity. And by speechless, I'm not implying "quietness," but rather "having no idea of what to say." I have a general policy of attempting to keep my mouth shut when there's nothing good to say, because that's what my Momma told me to do. :) Anyways, to give you some of the background to the dialogue: the speaker in question is a female doctor I work with, her husband is a lawyer. She has two young girls, one is 4ish I think, and the other is 4 months. Currently, a nanny in their home is looking after the little ones. Fast forward to our conversation >>>>

Us: banter, banter, blah, blah

Me: "So everyone I know seems to be pregnant and about to deliver."

Her: "Yeah, I have several friends in the next few months who will too. They're all teachers and they'll be taking time off to be at home with their babies. [time off = not just maternity leave]

Me: "Oh? like not coming back?"

Her: "Yeah, it makes me sad to think about that, so I try not to."

Me: [awkward pause and speechlessness]

So I immediately pick up on what she's really not saying... "I'm not staying at home with my daughters, and I hate that, buuuut I'm not really going to focus on that or try to change anything."

I realize I probably haven't covered my position thoroughly on raising children, etc., but I am of the persuasion that mommas need to be mommas at home. No one else can raise your children the way you can. And as everyone who takes this position will usually provide a disclaimer, I completely understand in single-parent homes, safety/abuse issues, etc. where you do need outside help for your children. But I would say for the majority of families, being a stay at home mom or wife (SAHM, SAHW) can work; if you are willing to make some financial and personal sacrifices. I also understand the duration differs between SAHMs. Some stay home until the children graduate from high school, some homeschool their kids, and some go back to work when the children are able to be in school.

Back to the awkward pause part, I really had no idea of what to say. Mainly because I am certainly not going to be the one who places even more guilt on someone else's frame, especially when they're already feeling it. I'm pretty sure that women (moms or not) have a built-in guilt section in our hearts; simply put, we are professionals in that regard. Anyways, if I knew her on a personal level, beyond work, as a friend, I would've tried to encourage her to find ways to be more at home with the kids. Change career stuff around, etc.

I mentioned this incident to my sister and her husband (she's a SAHM of two), and my brother-in-law said, "Clearly this isn't a problem of means..." And it's not, and that's what bothers me. I don't know much about doctor and lawyer salaries, but it's pretty safe to say their annual income would still be large if she came home to be with the kids. But herein lies another dilemma.

She's a doctor. She's invested years of schooling, not to mention tuition to be at the point where she is today. If you start comparing the different professions between moms that give up their careers to be at home, it gets dangerous. As humans we deal better with labels. Heck, even Blogger deals better with labels! We can't handle ambiguity, so it's easier for us to compare and attempt to assess value of things. We'll use my job and hers as an example for this. I'm an administrative assistant. I manage research, mailings, patient appointments, etc. When I leave this job, this position will easily be replaced. A doctor however is different. She treats illnesses and diseases. She manages medications and diagnoses. She has probably saved lives. Do you see the difference?

I'm not getting into this as a point of self-worth or value. I don't feel any less valuable as a person by my job. I am secure in my Father's love for me and that He planned for little ol' me to be a part of His big universe. What I am saying is that, it's hard for me, even as a staunch believer of SAHMs, to really grasp the giving up of such a beneficial career. I guess what it boils down to is, do others (patients in our example) need me more than my children do?

The potential answer to that question leaves me with a sour stomach. If you say, "others do," then you're saying "no" to your own children. And really, in the scheme of things, they're only children for a little while. A very short while. But if you say "my children do," then others can wait. There have always been "others" and there always will be. But your children only have one mommy for their lifetime. No one else holds that particular role in their entire lifetime. Pretty powerful huh? My point exactly.


Rachel said...

I've had similar conversations with my unmarried, career-minded boss who thinks it's such a waste that I want to be a SAHW/M. She doesn't understand not wanting to climb the corporate ladder and actually thinks less of me because of it. I don't know how much of it is her worldview, how much of it is her upbringing (her mom worked outside the home from day one), and how much of it is guilt of some sort.

To answer your questions, Jeremy's finishing his finance degree. It's been a long, hard journey (involving two or three universities) but it seems we're nearly at the end of the road. He works the early AM shift at UPS still and wants to keep working there for a bit after graduation. He definitely needs a lot of encouragement to keep going.

Deanna said...

I agree with a hearty "Amen!"

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your blog spot after connecting to it from LPL site. My husband is in the process of setting up a space on blogspot for me. Your posting for today hit home at many levels (if I can share so bluntly). I used to do investigations of child abuse and neglect. I thought to myself, how can I ever leave these children after I have my son? After removing 6 children from 1 mom and that process taking from 7am till 8pm, I asked my boss what I would do after my son was born. She suggested a daycare that opens at 5am and stays open till 8pm. The God gave me the gift of 8 weeks of bedrest-and those kids and families did just fine.
My husband and I had been baptized only 1 year when we had our son (praise God). We both walked away from insane careers - and this put us slightly above the poverty level. It also taught us alot.
After 3 years, I returned to the work world. I've also worked with a female doc who didn't understand that I wanted to be home with my son when he was sick?! Now I work at my son's school as a bookkeeper. On a bad day, I can see him in the hallway and give him a kiss and it's so worth it.
All of this rambling is to say - when converstations get stuck like yours did, just imitate Christ. He asked lots of open-ended questions that got people to reveal the nature of their heart (often to themselves). It's a great study to go through the gospels and see how many times Jesus answered a question with a question. My heart breaks for women like this doc, because at the end of her life, she will not remember all of the patients, but she will want to remember her children.
Thanks for letting me share!
Kim Feth in Apex, NC

Megan at My Heart, My Home said...

Thanks for sharing so candidly your experiences about this. Let me know when you get your blog set up :) Praise the Lord that you're still able to be near your son at his school. I'd love to hear more about that part of your life when both you and your husband left your careers. Being a Christian is no easy feat, but we know that God will bless our obedience to Him! p.s. I'm a fellow NC gal ;)

Sheila said...

I love being at home with Olivia. My heart aches when I talk to other mamas who say "I wish I could stay home with mine." Or "I wish I stayed home with mine-- I regret it." :o(

It's worth the little things you give up in the end.

Are you gonna be staying home anytime soon??!