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'Just' a Stay-at-Home Mom


Oct 25 2011
So I'm liberated from home life. But what if I 'want' to be there?

I am a product of second-wave feminism of the 1960s. By the time I was a child in the '80s, movies were full of women in shoulder-padded jackets leading employees from their corporate desks. The working mom was alive and well, figuring out how to balance her professional and family responsibilities. My grandpa was picking me up after school and watching me until Mom got home from work.

So I came into my stay-at-home mom role slowly, with frequent handwringing and doubts. I was in full-time ministry before that, in a form of work that demanded loads of energy, crazy hours, and a great community of support. I had dreams for the way my career and calling would flow into my children's lives. I wanted a home where high-school kids I ministered to could stomp in and out and eat all our tortilla chips. I wanted my boys to experience the socialization that comes from being around caring young people (my volunteer leaders). I wanted my children to know the part of me that leads 500 kids in the "Jai Ho" dance on stage, or sits with a 16-year-old girl over a cup of coffee, hearing about her family and her relationships, and letting her know she is valued.

When my husband's job moved us across the country, the community I depended on for childcare was gone, and my job was not transferable. Instead of high-school field hockey practice and prayer meetings, my days in San Francisco became centered on the playground and story time at the library.

I'm grateful for the feminist movement, yet also uncomfortable in it. Some Christian women use the term egalitarian to describe their beliefs about women and the church, assuming it's less loaded, less political than the "f-word." But I struggle in that as well, knowing that even Christian working women have more opportunities thanks to the work of pioneering feminists. I constantly question my choice to be home. I struggle with this choice I've made to become the grocery shopper at 10 a.m. in my yoga pants, two kids piled in my shopping cart. After our cross-country move, when asked what I do, I found myself saying: "I'm just a stay-at-home mom." Why has it been so hard to value my work at home?
In The Feminist Mystique, Betty Friedan explained part of what has led to my stay-at-home discomfort:

The only kind of work which permits an able woman to realize her abilities fully, to achieve identity in society in a life plan that can encompass marriage and motherhood, is … the lifelong commitment to an art or science, to politics or profession.
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'Just' a Stay-at-Home Mom