Originally published Thursday, 10 October 2013.
Matt Walsh recently wrote a post called, “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” In it, he laments how the high calling of stay-at-home mothers is often taken for granted or looked down on. After several conversations with women who seemed to criticize his wife for her decision to stay at home with their kids, he writes:
This conversation shouldn’t be necessary. I shouldn’t need to explain why it’s insane for anyone — particularly other women — to have such contempt and hostility for “stay at home” mothers. Are we really so shallow? Are we really so confused? Are we really the first culture in the history of mankind to fail to grasp the glory and seriousness of motherhood? The pagans deified Maternity and turned it into a goddess. We’ve gone the other direction; we treat it like a disease or an obstacle.
When I look at this issue, I see the problem really isn’t so much about contempt and hostility as it is our insecurity. It’s the “sin under the sin,” and it’s what keeps us all—mothers or not—from affirming one another’s decisions and callings.
I think the contempt and hostility Matt sees is actually a manifestation of the insecurity some moms feel about their own decision to go back to work. Maybe they do see all the wonderful benefits stay-at-home mothering brings and they thing, “Did I make the right call?” “Am I doing the right thing for my child?” Maybe it’s not that they’re blind to how important motherhood is. Maybe they see it as so incredibly important and are worried they are totally muddling it all up by dropping their kids off at daycare each morning.
Often, our insecurities manifest themselves in defensiveness. When we shake our heads at our friend who spends an egregious amount of money on organic food, there’s a part of us that thinks he’s judging us for all the frozen pizzas we eat or that we’re not doing right by our bodies. When we roll our eyes at the coworker who goes on and on about his most recent marathon, there’s a bit of self-consciousness in our hearts about the last time we stepped foot in a gym.
Sometimes when Sally, with her office job, questions Annie’s decision to stay at home, it’s because she really just wants to someone, anyone, to affirm the decision she’s made is a good one. And when Annie sees Sally dropping her kids off at daycare and casts judgmental thoughts in her direction, it’s because it’s been awhile since anyone told Annie that not dropping off her kids at daycare was just as much a sacrifice.
Ladies, mommas-- let’s show one another grace. If we truly believe and trust that God will give us the abilities and grace we need to raise our kids “in the way they should go,” we can let go of all this pressure to “do the right thing” as a mom. We can stop this passive-aggressive attack on one another’s decisions. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, our defensiveness and insecurities will melt away and we will be better able to affirm one another’s individual paths in motherhood.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.