Saturday, April 28, 2012


Are you following the Bright Maidens yet?

Remember those cute little homework assignments you had in elementary school where you had to interview members of your family? We had to learn about where our parents grew up, what it was like growing up in the dark ages, how they met, and what their occupations were, among other things.

My dad sends these kinds of things
to us in emails... he's so funny...
My dad was easy to interview. I didn’t even have to ask him for the answer to his occupation - I just knew that he was a structural engineer. I didn’t know what a structural engineer actually did (besides sitting at a desk covered with lots of blueprints and that he was better/cooler than an architect), but I knew that was his job.

My mom proved to be more difficult. This is how it usually played out:

Me: Mom, what's your occupation?

Mom: Let's see... you should put doctor, cook, teacher, laundry woman, housekeeper, diaper changer, maid, taxi driver, errand runner, hair stylist, clothes picker-outer, grocery shopper, classroom mom, Girl Scout cookie mom, volunteer...

Me: Moooooooooooooooooom! You don't do all those jobs...

My little kindergarten brain thought she was joking. I knew that Dr. Sheets was my doctor and that Sandy cut my hair, so there was no way my mom was also those things. I'm sure I asked her what to really put down for her occupation. What I didn’t realize at my youthful age was that everything she listed as her occupation was 100% accurate.

Yep, my mom was and still is a stay-at-home mom, or SAHM (since acronyms are so cool). She never listed her occupation as “homemaker”. Yes, she “made a home” but so did my dad by going off to an office every day to earn money.

With my limited view of the world as a child, I certainly didn’t realize that my mom was different from most of my friends' moms. I didn’t know that it was completely normal for moms to have full-time careers, and I certainly didn't remember when my mom worked (I was 3 when she made the major career change). I just thought it was normal that every mom was just a mom.

I’m not sure when I realized that this was not necessarily the case. I never had to worry about getting a ride home from after-school activities. I never had to worry about making it to softball games or Girl Scout meetings on time. I never had to wonder what was for dinner that night, or when my laundry would be clean. I never had to worry about sleeping through my alarm clock, because I had a back-up waker-upper. I didn’t have to worry if I missed the bus, because I would still get to school on time. All of these things just happened. This day-to-day assurance of the simplest things was a normal part of my life.

I didn’t realize how truly blessed I was to have my mom stay home for my sisters and me. I didn’t realize the sacrifices that my dad had to make to support our family of six, and I certainly didn't know about what my college-educated mom gave up to stay home with us.

So, I took it for granted. I would say that I appreciated what my mom did, but I could never see myself staying home as a mom because I would get bored. Yes, BORED. Can you believe it? I thought my mom sat at home all day bored!

I vowed that I would go off to college, and have a great and rewarding career someday – and be a mom, too. I thought I could do it all* – and I think that by thinking that, in a way I didn’t really recognize all that my mom really did.

*Moms who really do it all, with the career and the kids - y'all are super moms. I can barely take care of myself and work, I have no idea how you do it. 

I didn’t realize that stay-at-home moms are working moms. Somewhere along the way, society started to undervalue the role of the mother in our family lives. We began to think that women who choose the "1950s housewife" kind of life are somehow not living up to their potential as women, when really they are living out the feminine genius just as much as the moms who are doctors, lawyers, and teachers.  Yet, perhaps because of reality TV shows, society seems to have this idea that SAHMs as those who either have:

1. 20 kids, and spend their entire day changing poopy diapers...

Kids today are so technologically advanced!

2. A nanny for their children because they are just far too busy having brunch at the club with the other "SAHMs".
It's called the single life... minus the whole go to work thing.
Super mom - saving the world
one stinky diaper at a time.
Thankfully, when I moved out to DC, truly “on my own” for the first time, I began to realize what a gift my mother had given me all those years. I began to re-think my views about SAHMs, and I no longer saw them as stroller-pushing, diaper-changing, sit-at-home-lazy-and-bored kind of women. I saw them as superheroes.

Seriously, all moms should have a cape. 

You should get one at the hospital after you give birth.

I'm totally not kidding.

As I grew deeper into my faith, I also realized how much I longed for that life. I was a little shocked with myself when ambitious, always-wanted-to-have-a-super-awesome-high-paying-career me realized that I might actually want to follow in my mom's footsteps. It was this realization that helped me realize that whether a mom stays home to raise her children or goes out into the world to work, she is still a working woman. Even more, they are all still moms whether or not they get a real paycheck, and their jobs are arguably the most important jobs ever.

Adding "juggler" to the list of mom occupations.
Some smart guy somewhere calculated that the average SAHM should make around $115,000 per year for the amount of work she does. That’s a really nice salary, if you ask me, but I can tell you that my mommy did not get that sizeable paycheck every two weeks.

She got nosebleeds and scraped knees, baskets of dirty laundry, poopy diapers galore, tears at home and temper tantrums at the grocery store.

But, she also got bouquets of dandelions (we thought they were pretty flowers!), handprint impressions of all shapes and sizes, homemade cards and photo frames covered in macaroni, beautiful drawings plastered all over the basement door, too much help cooking and baking, and lots of laughter and smiles.

Maybe you can’t buy a house or a car with these things, but I would say their value is even better than that $115,000 salary that my mom deserves.

I don't know if I'm called to be a mom (I suppose I need a husband to accomplish that!), and I don't know if I'm called to be a stay-at-home mom. What I do know is that a few years ago, I would have scoffed at the thought of giving up my really nice salary to be a stay-at-home mom. Now, if that's where God is calling me, I would be happy to say that I'm  a cook, doctor, laundry woman, taxi driver, etc. etc. etc., just like my mom. I might have to ask to borrow her superhero cape, though.


  1. This is so true. In my last job the girls I worked with always "talked down" SAHM's. But you don't know the real reason. Daycare ISN'T CHEAP! I know with my current income almost my whole paycheck would go to daycare. It's not worth working for an extra $100 a week. I'm like you not married or even dating anyone so I don't know what I will be a Working Mom or a SAHM. I know I'm EXHAUSTED when I get home now and the thought of actually working n then taking care of ppl is daunting. I guess only time will tell of what we will do :)

  2. Great post! My mom was definitely a superhero; she always had cookies waiting when I got off the bus!


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