Recently read Tiffany Dufu’s Drop the Ball and a few things caused me to think about more things than I could squeeze into an Instagram caption.
Initially I picked this book from the library shelf because I thought it would be about being happier with a slower pace of life, but that wasn’t exactly the case. Instead, Dufu espouses the idea of “having it all” by redefining gender stereotypes and asking others for help.
I realize that’s actually a bit ironic, because Dufu begins her writing with the realization that having it all (domestic goddess-hood and a rocketing career in a meaningful field) is nigh impossible. But by redefining what “all” is (she narrows down her goals to what really matters to her), as well as how gender roles dictate how running a household falls on spouses (spoiler: they shouldn’t), Dufu ends up with a better idea of what she wants out of life and is able to follow up, while being a supportive spouse and a mother in the areas she cares about most.
Certainly, her sharing was thought-provoking and touching. I loved reading about her deepened relationship with her husband and the ways in which she discovered what mattered most to her. Yet there were brief snatches of conversation in support of working mothers. Understandable, because she is herself a working mother. And I will not criticize her for it, because I am in full agreement with Dufu that the “mommy wars” (pitting working mothers against stay-at-home mothers) need to stop, because I am sure that all (okay, 99.9%) mothers are doing the best for their children.
What provoked me to write a longer post on my response to her book was that seeing her life laid out in print made me wonder if I am doing the right thing, staying at home. I think so, but approximately every three weeks or so I question myself all over again. Jack, to his credit, is ever patient, as are my parents. So I will write out here my reasons for staying home, so I can be reminded in one more place.
- I love seeing potential develop.
There is little point in looking for the potential in other children and ignoring the chance to observe my toddler from the beginning. And who else has more potential than a toddler, ready to take on the world? This is literally a chance in a lifetime that I will miss out on if I choose to stay in the classroom.
- Money is not a pressing concern.
This is significant. I am able to stay home without it being a financial burden on the family. This is a privilege. If we had larger bills to pay, I would not be able to take this opportunity. Our circumstances have led me to suppose that God has opened the door to staying-at-home, and I am happy to follow.
- I excel when I can focus on one main goal.
This is the only point on which I want to disagree with Dufu, who mentioned that her path was that of an ambitious woman. Ambition does not equate to career-mindedness. Ambition is found in the pursuit of a goal. I am ambitious and multi-tasking gets in the way of doing my best. Were I to be a teacher as well, I wouldn’t be able to divide myself between my students and my toddler. One of them would suffer.
- I see danger and I wish to avoid it.
The danger for me is in forming my identity around my career, instead of around Christ. It’s easy to turn teaching into a holy pursuit (as with any profession that cares for people). You might argue that there’s a danger in me forming an identity as a mother but that’s not as an enticing an identity because of my lack of confidence in being a mother. In many ways, giving birth and choosing to stay home has stripped me of my identities and I am relishing the freedom of knowing that Christ sees value in me without any of the things I once counted dear.
- Every mother I have spoken to has reminded me to enjoy the early years.
This last reason reminds me of a quote from one of my friends, “The lament of every mother is time. More time.” I think almost every young mother hears it from older women. “The years go by so fast.” “They grow up so quick.” “Work will be there when you return.” Thus, I am determined to treasure the early years.
There. Now that I’ve said it, I can move on and focus wholeheartedly on the task of being a SAHM.