More and more it is assumed that children will stay with grandma, relatives, be put in daycare, or go to after-school programs. For many women, there isn’t even a choice involved. This is simply what people do today.
But being in the workforce has shown me the other side of the coin. How do working mothers usually feel about it? Frazzled. Rushed. Sometimes guilty, but mostly that the work never stops and there is never enough time in the day.
Even if I did not feel biblically convicted that staying home with my children was the best possible use of my time, I think that observing the lives of working mothers would cause me to retreat from it out of the sheer lack of peace.
The fact that a working mother’s life is not easy and that she often feels pulled in every direction by the different spheres of her life is very real phenomenon for countless mothers today. The extent to which this is a part of our culture, is made clear in movies like Sarah Jessica Parker’s recent film, “I Don’t Know How She Does It.”
Consider Parker’s own testimony, as per the LA Times:
“When I was leaving for work this morning I was thinking about my kids, and how it felt like a real act of betrayal,” Parker said last February on the New York set of the film. “That helps me appreciate the conflict that exists for this particular character and countless women across the globe. I can understand the purgatory we put ourselves in.”(Emphasis mine)
Truly, in my own opinion, Parker’s words are true. As a single woman looking in on the rushed schedule of a working mother, it looks like purgatory.
Consider the schedule of many working moms: up early to get herself ready before the kids get up; get the kids dressed and fed; collect all of the possible things they will need for the day and load them into the car; drive them to school, grandma’s, or the sitter’s; drive to work; work an eight-hour day; deal with coworkers, the boss, and work demands; drive to pick the children up from school, grandma’s, or the sitter’s; drive home; make dinner; do laundry, chores, clean; try to squeeze in time for husband and children; put children to bed…. Repeat.
It is no wonder that many women feel burdened by this lifestyle. It is a burdensome lifestyle.
My question is: has Feminism put so much pressure on women to work that this pressure continues to be felt by them even when it is counterproductive and economically unwise?
Surely there are cases where a mother has to work outside the home. But in many cases, women are simply working outside the home because they feel like they have to be outside the home in order to fulfill the world’s expectations for them. These mothers would like to be home with their children, but they don’t see how it is possible. Some even are deceived into thinking that their choice is an economically wise choice when they have never sat down and accounted the real economic benefit that working outside the home is for their family.
Consider, for example, that most working mothers in the workforce are not making large salaries. While there are exceptions, most mothers are usually younger and less advanced in their careers, not to mention the fact that most people (men or women) out there aren’t pulling in large salaries in the first place. Many people work in factories, retail, and other lower-paying jobs.
For a woman who makes minimum wage, there is no debating that paying someone to watch her children while she is at work makes little sense. If she has even more than one child, it is likely that she could not find someone to watch her kids for as much as she makes.
For mothers making above minimum wage, in the range anywhere from $9.00 to $20.00 an hour, it still seems like an unwise economic choice. Childcare is expensive, and good childcare is even more expensive. When you add this to the money a mother could spend on gas, professional attire, eating out, and other expenses, my guess is that most mothers would see just how little their paycheck is earning them each week.
In some cases, women are really working for less than minimum wage when you deduct the cost of working from what they make. We wouldn’t take a job for $4.00 an hour, and yet somehow it makes sense in the case of a working mother. Huh?
So why do mothers who fall into this category continue to work? While it is most likely that they have never sat down and counted the cost, it could be that they look down on staying at home or feel others would look down on them.
I recognize that staying home today is culturally a hard choice for a working mother to make. But when you really look at the cost, both financially and in losing out on being there with your children, as well as the lack of peace that comes with busing children around and getting yourself to work, is it really that hard? To me the choice seems loud and clear.
It makes much more sense to give the best of your time and hard work to your children and your husband—not your boss or coworkers. Mothers have so much to offer, and it seems a pity their energy should be used up working on a career for a company that at the end of the day cares very little about them. Even having worked in an office with a good environment and people that I really liked, I knew that it was nothing to be compared to the atmosphere and the support I have at home.
How often do such women wish they had more time? A little more control of their own work schedule? Why not stay home and enjoy let you and your husband decide how you will spend your time to the benefit of your own family? If you have talents and expertise, don’t think it will be wasted. Why not put it to use for your family? Are you a good manager? Why not manage your home? Do you excel at cutting costs or rooting out areas of un-productivity? Why not put it to use for your family?
What a pity it is that culture tells us that it makes sense for us to give the best hours of our day submitting to and serving either a boss or coworkers or a company or a corporation, but that it makes no sense to serve and work for our own husbands and children in our own homes!
At the end of my life, I know what will have been more important and more worthwhile of an investment, no matter how much culture says otherwise!
This piece was originally posted on Tiffany’s blog True Femininity