Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Out of the mouth of babes

"I'd love to stay home with my chldren. I just can't afford it."

I hear the comment all the time from working mothers. My usual response is, "I can't afford not to." I am willing to only have one car, live in a modest three bedroom house, and go without many things so I can be home with my children.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels the sacrifice is worth it.

Author and blogger Leslie Morgan Steiner of the Washington Post had the opportunity to speak to her son's third grade class about writing. Currently , Ms. Steiner is writing a book on motherhood, so the topic of conversation turned to what the children thought about their moms working outside the home. Here's a few quotes from the children:"

Wednesday is the only day my mom can pick me up. I dream about Wednesday all week."

"My mom used to go to Africa like, 20 times a year. Now she is home all the time and every day I am surprised to see her in the kitchen when I wake up.

and from her own son came this quote:

I think all moms should stay home with their children.
While this is just anecdotal evidence, I'm willing to bet most children would say something similar. Parents are working so hard to to provide their children all of the latest material possessions but clearly the one that money can't buy is time.

Some in the Ms. Steiners comments were quick to dismiss the opinion of the children. Here's one:
My response to Leslie's post is "so what?" Children, wonderful as they are, are basically big bundles of Id. They'd probably also prefer to eat pizza and cheetos for dinner every night, given the choice. Why should the fact that kids would probably prefer to have one or both parents at home full-time mean, as Leslie implies, mean that parents who choose otherwise are putting their own needs ahead of their children's? We spend our entire lives as parents trying to moderate what the kids want against what's best for them. Why should we forget that just because the SAH/WOH issue is emotionally fraught. Sure, Jr. might resent in the short term that he doesn't have a cookie-baking June Cleaver of his own at home, but if the mom would be bored or unhappy without working for income, then would he really be better off?
My answer would boldy be YES.

But this isn't about what the child wants or even what the parent wants. The problem is absent a biblical standard, that is what this argument is reduced to. It becomes a subjective game of what's best for one at the expense of another. Personal happiness trumps personal sacrifice. An honest analysis is impossible because their is no longer a common standard. And anyone daring to say mothers belong home with their chilren is seen as judgemental or, if you're a child, a "bundle of Id".

I have never met anyone who, later in life, would say they wished they spent more time working. But I have met some, who said they wished they had spent more time with their children especially when they were young.

Years ago, I heard a radio interview with a couple whose daughter had committed suicide in her teen years. They recalled that they were too busy to see many of the warning signs that their daughter displayed. She wrote a suicide note before she died. It said, "Mom and Dad, you've given me everything to live life with, but nothing to live life for."

Our life's decisions should not be based on what's best for the children or what's best for me. There is another way,

But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

And for me that means choosing home.

(Note: Haloscan comments is acting up. There are comments there even if it says zero. And my apologies of your comment gets eaten after posting I have not deleted any comments. )

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