The Stay-at-Home

by Bailey on January 11, 2011 in Faithfulness, Industry

To be perfectly, obtrusively honest – I dislike the term “stay-at-home.” I know – many of my dearest mentors have bled and died on the field in order to wear that label with pride and respect. To those who wear it, I salute you. You ought to feel proud. You ought to be respected.

But if we’re going to talk about labels (which I am, at least), I much prefer “homemaker.” And it’s not just semantics.

I am encouraged to see such organized opposition against feminism and its effects on the homefront, to know that there are others out there who think this battle worth fighting. And I think we have seen great lengths in getting the word out about another equally viable, more fulfilling outlet for the modern woman: homemaking.

It’s just that I fear that with the emphasis on getting women back home, we have confused our message of hope and turned it into a burden that we didn’t intend to make. We’ve given the wrapper – the “stay at home” part – without the contents – glorifying God through and in the home.

(Now some people are lazy and just lump all homemakers together in one flowery, skirts-only, bread-baking group, without bothering to look into the vision. That’s their problem. No amount of rationalization or tears upon the paper will convince them otherwise of our unadulterated conviction.)

Ever since the Lord woke my heart up to this glorious context of womanhood, I’ve been measuring the definitions of what that exactly meant to Scripture. Did it mean I had to be enamored with sewing? Did I have to bake my own bread? Did I really have to use cloth diapers…or could I be holy using disposables?

But to be serious now. I tried to whittle away different convictions and circumstances – even my own – and get down to the bare truth of Scripture. To really define womanhood in a way that covered every single woman of God out there. Different women came into my life, different in different ways – working home school moms, working moms who loved the home, die hard stay-at-homes. They shaped me more than I shaped them – that both positively and negatively.

What I learned? It’s easier and lazier to define Biblical womanhood as “staying at home and not working.” It’s so much easier to describe a stay-at-home daughter, for instance, as a girl who doesn’t go to college and sews on the side. It’s so much easier to describe the womanly arts as quilling and quilting.

But those are just externals. In many cases, the call to Biblical womanhood includes staying at home, quitting a job and yes, quilting. (Any girl who doesn’t have a mama-made quilt to snuggle up in is missing out, I think.) We have to be careful, though, that we don’t mix up the expressions of womanhood with womanhood itself.

What do we do with the wife whose husband forces her to work? What about the daughter whose parents want her off to college and career, no matter how respectfully she appeals? Are we to say that they cannot be true women, following true womanhood, despite the fact that they are not physically home at all times?

Conversely, I know women who stay at home, who maybe home school, who perhaps spend their spare time knitting or cross stitching, and they have nothing of the vision of a lady I know who works full-time but desires to be home more than anything.

What is that vision? It’s a vision to prepare for marriage and home life as a good thing, as something to be desired (Proverbs 31:10-12). It’s a vision that sees the home and its inhabitants as both a means to serve and an opportunity to serve itself (Titus 2:4-5). It’s a vision that understands that God’s gifts to us are meant to be used in His contexts and for His glory (Titus 2:12-15).

This is not a rap against women who stay home. I believe that womanhood is rooted in the home. Mothers who stay home do a greater service to their children than mothers who work. Daughters and wives who keep home full time have my deepest admiration – they’re my heroes. But not simply because they stay home. Because they have a vision for their role in the home, whether they’re there 24/7 or only after the work hours.

“Coming home” physically is only an outer manifestation of a heart issue. A woman can be “at home” physically and somewhere else spiritually and wholeheartedly. And vice versa. Yes, the more natural way is at home – it’s the best way – the benefits of being at home far outweigh anything else this life has to offer for women. But only if we dedicate it to the Lord. Only if we have a vision that goes beyond private wish and fulfillment. Only if we look to His Word as the ultimate directive for our life – not the books and blogs of those who share our same views.

Would I encourage any woman, married or unmarried, to come home physically? Absolutely. Do I believe Scripture encourages such a lifestyle? Unequivocally. Do I believe a woman cannot be a woman if she must work or go to college? No. Emphatically.

Once we grasp the heart of womanhood, we can give those women something to fill their homes with – something to define their lives with – something that works in every situation, for the glory of God alone. That’s what homemaking is all about. And every woman is called to it.

By Bailey, Big House in the Little Woods

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Bailey

Bailey is a seventeen-year-old homeschooler in love with anything literary or theological. The second oldest of nine children, she finds joy in romping with her younger siblings, scribbling in her ever-expanding notebook and trying her hand at the home arts.

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{ 36 comments }

Kendal January 11, 2011

Beautifully written! Thank you!
http://www.thefatherknwsbest.com

Lisa H January 11, 2011

Thank you for pointing women to go to His Word for themselves to guide them. Very well done.

Melissa January 11, 2011

Excellent post. I have been home for two years (after pursuing college and a career), and it’s only recently that I have realized what that really means. You beautifully and respectfully wrote out the things God has been laying on my heart in recent months.

Tiana Krenz January 11, 2011

I love it! Such a beautiful reminder that it’s not simply about a physical location…it’s about a heart attitude, and a calling.

God Bless!

annie January 11, 2011

AMEN!!!

Lorri January 11, 2011

Excellent post! I loved it!

Shelley January 11, 2011

LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Besides, a “SAHM” hardly stays at home if she is managing well! I even do not care for the term homemaker, after hearing countless women say, “I am JUST a homemaker.” I have come to prefer the term “Family Manager!” It gets peoples attention, and I like to let them know when I first meet them just how important I think my position is! Lovely article, thanks for sharing!

Lisa Grace January 11, 2011

This is perhaps one of the most well written articles I’ve read about staying at home and HOMEmaking. I feel like we’ve missed the mark so much and though I try so hard to articulate what I mean, this has done it perfectly! Printing this out to have. Thanks so much 🙂

Anna Taylor January 11, 2011

Beautifully put! What a perfectly stated post about being a keeper of the home. It is so much more than just “staying home.” You have refreshed my spirit and devotion to my God-given vocation.

Thank you!

Anna

Christin January 11, 2011

Bailey, great mindset here. I love how well you conveyed and clarified your thoughts. And I couldn’t agree more. As a matter of fact, it has caused me to pause and check my own heart. I am at home physically, but is my heart really here? And it doesn’t have to be that you wish for a career – but that you constantly escape by way of internet, phone, girls night outs, constant “me” time, etc.
Thank you so much for this!

stella January 11, 2011

What battlefield!? Who bled and died!?

Mary Joy @Seeds of Encouragement Sewn with Grace January 11, 2011

Great job! I love the title Homemaker…it actually comes from Scripture as Proverbs 14:1 talks about a wise woman “building” her home. 😀

I used to work outside of the home a few years back…I LOVE ministering to my husband, children, and homemaking full-time…with a little writing on the side! 😀

I also think that we need to be careful not to judge how each Christian wife lives out their calling to homemaking. As I read Proverbs 31: 10 and following…I do not see that the Proverbs 31 woman is the only one in the house that cleans and takes care of the home herself. Training our daughters to care for their homes…and training our sons to help their future wives care for their homes is an essential part of living out our calling. As my husband reminds me, when I try to prevent him from taking on a household task or two, its his way of being able to bless me. He says…he helps mess it up and the mama isn’t the only one who should be cleaning it up. As you point out…homemaking is so much more than cleaning! 😀

God bless you!!! So excited about getting to know you!!! Thanks for sharing today!

Building Home with Him,

Mary Joy

Bailey January 11, 2011

Stella and anyone else who was offended by that line —

What I meant by the battlefield metaphor is that there is a war against home, homemaking, motherhood and true womanhood. Hardcore feminism (as represented by its more militant champions) belittles the notion of “stay-at-home motherhood” as a choice subpar to a career. So in the figurative “battlefield” (which was a slightly tongue in cheek comment), many women have strived to vindicate the term “stay-at-home mom” from belittlement and disrespect. “Bled and died” refer to their staunchness and passion.

I’m very sorry if that metaphor seemed extreme or offensive to some. I never meant it come across that way, and apologize for any offense. I hope it did not detract from any truth found in the rest of the article.

May God bless you!

In Christ’s love,
Bailey

p.s. Thank you for all the sweet comments, ladies. May Christ be praised. :o)

Stacie @ No Idle Bread January 11, 2011

This was encouraging.

Jennier L. January 11, 2011

Perhaps you have hit on what one way we are meant to enjoy in our freedom in Christ. He has not molded us all to look the same, but rather to obey him and let him shape our lives. Praise be to our great Creator that we do not all look the same, but that we can have oneness in our convictions and heart as He so wonderfully works out His will in so many different ways. Great post and reminder!

Elle January 11, 2011

Bailey, it’s an awful metaphor. You should be ashamed for even thinking about comparing being a stay-at-home mom with the horrors soldiers face on battlefields.

You are also wrong about the “war” on the homefront. Homemakers aren’t under fire. We aren’t threatened with our rights being taken away. We have never had to fight for the right to be homemakers. Yet every single day there are women out there just as capable of doing work who are passed over for the positions in favor of men, men who may not be as capable but who will be paid better. There are women every single day fighting for promotions they deserve but don’t get because someone else thinks a man should be in charge. These women can go home and be homemakers. In fact, our entire social system is set up to help enable those who don’t want to work and want to stay home. There is no system in place to help those who want to work. It’s much harder to be a working woman than one who stays home. Many of my own friends would love to work, but stay home because the cost of daycare is more than they can earn.

The battle isn’t to stay home. The battle is to work and have equal human rights as men, to not be seen as inferior because of our genitalia.

Just as a little FYI…I’m a homemaker, a mommy to a little girl, and I wouldn’t change this for anything. I love being an at-home mommy, but I’m also capable of seeing the big picture.

Elle January 11, 2011

Also, “Hardcore feminism (as represented by its more militant champions) belittles the notion of “stay-at-home motherhood” as a choice subpar to a career.”

Yet you’re belittling mothers who work and are insulting them in so many ways.

Sarah Mae January 11, 2011

Hi Elle, Sarah Mae here, we don’t ever want to belittle working mothers, so please forgive if that is how this post or our site comes off. It is our intention here to encourage and affirm women who choose to stay home and/or raise their daughter as a homemaker.

Jessica Saltgaver January 11, 2011

Beautiful post! You have such a lovely way of speaking Truth, but also being full of grace!

Mamavee January 11, 2011

I also prefer “homemaker” because that is what I do: I make a home. But I am curious, who do you know that actually bled and/or died and on what field exactly in order to wear the badge of “stay-at-home”? Or were you using hyperbole? .

h. rae January 11, 2011

Wonderful post as I fully expected!

Cynthia K. January 11, 2011

“(Now some people are lazy and just lump all homemakers together in one flowery, skirts-only, bread-baking group, without bothering to look into the vision. That’s their problem. No amount of rationalization or tears upon the paper will convince them otherwise of our unadulterated conviction.)”

Hi there,

I really liked your post, and I understand what you are saying about being a good homemaker without having to fit the above mold, however, it seems to me that you are critical of that mold to the point of having to rationalize, and cry in order to convince people that you aren’t like that.

I am a skirts only stay at home mom who bakes her own bread, while homeschooling my girls, and I cloth diaper to boot! While I respect that some mothers do not do the same things as I do, (and I have *NO* problem with that!), I am a bit offended that you would frown on those of us that *do* fit that “mold.” Perhaps that isn’t how you meant that statement to come across, but it seems a little rude to me.

Just for parities sake, I also love to sew, scrapbook, and knit. How cliche.

Nicole January 11, 2011

Homemaker is a much more fitting title to the job.

Danielle January 11, 2011

Wow! Great Post! I totally agree…. although would never have put it so well:0)

Pam Holloway January 12, 2011

Oh my goodness!!! Beautifully written and exactly how I feel! I love being at home, keeping my home safe, warm, and inviting, for anyone who enters our door, but more importantly for my family!! I pray daily that the Spirit of the Lord is able to dwell in our home and can be felt by anyone who enters these sacred walls. I’m home when my children and husband leave for the day and home when they return each evening. I made a commitment to my Father in Heaven to be here when my family is, to nurture them all to the best of my ability, to love them always, to teach them the things of God, to teach them their divine roles in God’s plan, and to increase my knowledge of all good things.

Pam in Brussels, Belgium

Bailey January 12, 2011

Dear Elle,

Again, I am truly sorry for the offense the battlefield metaphor caused. My daddy is a retired Air Force veteran and my brother a Marine, so I mean no disrespect to those who have fought for our freedom.

My intention was not belittling working mothers, and if it came across that way, the fault is mine and I regret that it did. I would love to encourage all women and girls to pursue womanhood and the God who created that womanhood. Hopefully we can agree on that, and I’ll leave the Holy Spirit and not my writing skills (which are dwindling very low in my opinion right now ;-)) to decide what His Word says on the issue of women working outside the home. I have no right to condemn or belittle another woman, especially a sister in Christ, and I AM very much ashamed if I did that. Blessings.

Mamavee – yes, I suppose it would be a hyperbole, and slightly tongue in cheek. Apparently it fell flat. 🙂

Cynthia K. – for the record, I wear skirts all the time; my sister is the queen of sewing, crafting, knitting, crocheting, etc.; but my breadbaking endeavors have not reaped much fruit – my breadstick blobs have been the running joke in family baking for a while now.

In the paragraph you quoted, I was speaking of critics who thumb their noses at homemaking and dismiss it as being *merely* about breadbaking and wearing skirts only – “and that’s just not me,” some would say, dismissing the larger vision of homemaking that those home arts express. I was criticizing their poor critique of homemaking – not that I think flowers, skirts and breadbaking are bad; indeed, I think them all quite wonderful and good things. But I think we can agree that those things are not the sum and substance of homemaking…and that was all I meant to say. All I was calling for was for us women (and girls) to be intentional as presenting homemaking as a larger vision, not a cookie cutter, and make sure *that* is the central tenet to homemaking…not [insert various and sundry skills].

Yet that does not lessen the beauty of how many women such as yourself express your womanhood and femininity. Please forgive me for coming across as belittling what you love and I want you to know that I do not think your talents and expression of womanhood is cliched. I support that 110%.

Love,
Bailey

Bethany Grace January 12, 2011

@ Bailey *hugs* — so proud of my sister — and so happy you published this post. 🙂 — sometime today, catch me and remind me I owe you a hug, K?

Tabitha January 12, 2011

Hi Bailey,

I’m a former working mom, now being molded by God into a homemaker with baby 3. I’ve been on a few sides of this issue.

I’m a little surprised by all the criticism but please don’t let it change your writing style. We are all soldiers of Christ (2Tim 2:3-4, Phil 1:2), so I’m not offended by your battlefield metaphor. I think it’s parallel to the suffering we experience in our christian lives. I’m experiencing it as God molds me into a servant at home.

I enjoyed this post! Please continue to let the Spirit work in you for His glory.

Kara January 12, 2011

I second Bethany’s comment! You wrote and did an awesome job with your first post on Raising Homemakers. Awesome job, Bailey!

Donna @ Comin' Home January 12, 2011

Dear Bailey,

I think I smell the smoke of a battlefield however much readers wish to belie it. :o) Otherwise, why are any of your readers offended? Up until now, I have not had to deal with much smoke on my homemaking blog..nor any battle. I’m afraid it may be simply because I did not really take a stand or express clearly the fact that there is, indeed a battlefield, metaphorically speaking. You are very brave to simply speak the truth and to take a position knowing that some women will, perhaps, take your position as a personal criticism of them whether for or against. Your article was beautifully written, and your meaning was not at all fuzzy. It was obvious you weren’t trying to say anything unkind about anyone. You were simply stating, that there is a battle.

One of your readers said that we SAHM’s do not ever face any heat. Well, that simply isn’t true as I’m sure you must know. The day I quit working, to stay home with my son, some of my co-workers–including my boss reacted with vehemence and anger. I was so shocked as they all had seemed to be my friends. I, as a 23 yr.old had no idea why they were angry. Some mocked me with comments about how ‘rich I must be’ to be able to afford to stay at home. As a matter of fact, my husband and I were pauper poor..but we didn’t care. ( He was a custodian while working through college. We wanted our son to have a mommy at home, regardless of the cost. We lived in married student housing to do it. My boss told me, “You’ll be back in 6 months”, and he was sneering. Of course, he was not a Christian. I remember being so grateful, that in the last two weeks of work, he received a letter, not from a ‘lowly secretary’ like me, but from a CEO of a company, that she had decided to give up her career to stay at home and care for her two children.

Until you take a stand, even one that you think is strictly a personal one, it is likely that someone else will feel bad about that. My closest friend and mentor, the director of Admissions, went out to lunch with me during this period, and being the good friend she was, asked me..”did I disapprove of her for leaving her five kids at home while she pursued her career?” My decision..convicted her. Of course, I assured her I did not. It was not for me to judge her. Her decisions and her children were all between her and God. But I had to do what was right for me and for my child–whatever sacrifice that cost me.

Great post. Your loving heart and attitude was clear throughout the wording. You simply stated a fact–there is a battlefield. It is also a fact that we homemakers often get stereotyped as being very focused on home everything and extremely conservative styles only–to the exclusion of other life choices etc.

I think your article was very inclusive of women from all walks of life who truly love their homes and being at home. There was a time where I was ‘physcially’ at home..but my heart was elsewhere regardless of appearances. The Lord had to allow some real trauma in my life to wake me up to the fact that I was not ‘walking the talk’. My kids needed my attention–instead I was pursuing personal satisfaction and hobbies.

Great job!
xo
Donna @ Comin’ Home

Donna @ Comin' Home January 12, 2011

PS. I thought your witticisms were great — well written and a pleasure to read. :o)

Veronica Arthur January 13, 2011

The Lord really used this to speak to me! At times I find my heart wandering even though my physical being is still at home! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being home with my children and I am so thankful that God has allowed it. It’s just that there are times that satan will start worming his way into my mind to get me off track. That’s when I know I need to “resist the devil and he will flee from me.” The way to resist the devil is to “draw near to God (through prayer and his Word) and he will draw near to me”. Thanks for this thought-provoking post!

katie January 14, 2011

Thank you so much for your post. I truly can appreciate everyone comments as well.
I am a 24 year old woman trying to find her path in this great big world. I am the only girl and baby to my parents {two older brothers} and the only one in my family to have gone off to college/graduated with a degree. I was living out of state {where i went to college} and moved back home to be with my family/friends. I live with my fiance and we are planning our future together {we’ve been together 3+ years…I thought that i was unhappy living so far away from my family and i knew i wanted to be close to my family for when i started my own….im currently working now, but it doesnt seem to fulfill the type of happiness i have when i am off of work at home cleaning/cooking/managing our home financies/etc…my girlfriends who are around the same age have kids, are married and stay at home…i envy them…and they envy me for my “freedom” and ability to go off to college when i did/etc…
my emotions have been flooded lately with thoughts of “why not me”…why cant i be at home right now, and be taking care of the house/etc…{when im at work}…
like my friends…and of course i listen to my friends tell me about their stories of wanting to be at work, or how there day went, what happened with the three kids..etc…etc….
i know it cant always be “peaches and cream”….however, i deeply feel that home is where the heart is…my mom and dad worked/still work…but i had a very fulfilling child hood…i can only hope i can someday soon be able to pass on the love my mother gave me…as a homemaker/loving/forgiving guide to my children in this ever winding life we live… 🙂
thank you so much again for your post… i will be looking forward to more. 🙂

Lindsey January 16, 2011

Bailey,

I found your message very clear and absolutely true. Since there are so many different kinds of women in various situations, it really does all come back to the motives of the heart.
Please don’t belittle or sacrifice your writing skills for mass appeal. I could tell that you have no intention whatsoever to offend anyone, but somewhere along the line, there will be people who disagree and take offence with you (which you have already experienced head-on). It’s unavoidable. Just keep writing! You have good ideas to share and unique, God-given talent to do so.
With love,
Lindsey

Jen March 20, 2011

Overall I thought this was a good article, coming from a mom who works part-time. However, it did smart a little to read the following statement:
“Mothers who stay home do a greater service to their children than mothers who work.”
I think this statement deserved a little bit more context. I believe that each woman is called to something different, and just because she works, that doesn’t mean she is doing her child a “disservice”. While I am at work my daughter is with a few other children, cared for by a wonderful Christian woman, who has training in education of children.
I do not mean to sound defensive, but I find that the notion of SAHM is so much the norm in Christian circles that if you aren’t, you are immediately isolated in some way. I work to help support our family while my husband works full-time and goes to school part-time, and I often get comments like “oh, I’m sorry, that must be so hard that you have to work!” Or, “I’m sure you’ll be so glad when you are able to stay home full time.” I find these comments to be insensitive and ignorant.
I just wanted to throw my two cents in about that particular sentence…

Alexxus K. H. March 21, 2011

Another great article, Bailey…..I agree: don’t give up your witty and God-given writing skills, to make sure you don’t tick off or slightly irritate a reader…..no matter what you write, somebody will always find something wrong with it…so just keep writing for the Lord, and always remember Whose approval you have…..;)

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