Honest Illusions of Grandeur

Or, Why I Want to Be a Stay-At-Home Mom

"I would give a woman not more rights, but more privileges. Instead of sending her to seek such freedom as notoriously prevails in banks and factories, I would design specially a house in which she can be free." -- G.K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World

Chesterton published this in 1910, and even then it was not a popular view.  I can't imagine what is thought of it now.

I have been working for about a month now, and I do enjoy getting out of the house, and the satisfaction of a paycheck, and being able to socialize with coworkers and customers.  However, the experience has only affirmed my very old-fashioned feeling that God and nature have arranged it so that the ideal of maternal womanhood is to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom.*

There is something jarring about interrupting the everyday monotonies I share with my son to enter a different world entirely, and though it is in many ways easier to drop the baby off at my mother's and only have to worry about myself for awhile, I can honestly say my feelings now match my long-suspected beliefs.

You see, homemaking is not something I come by naturally.  I find it much easier to bang out a thesis, or read a book on politics, or answer telephones and take messages than to prepare two to three meals a day and pick up after the baby.
If I were a stay-at-home mom, I would think a lot about making cinnamon buns and other baked goodies.
I contest the modern notion that the woman who stays home to raise her child is sacrificing a life of dignity and freedom.  I believe I would thrive very well in the office of an adjunct professor on some dreamy college campus.  It is true that even a part-time job gives me a break away from the baby and a chance to earn money.  But I would find more dignity, more satisfaction, more peace staying at home with my son; in the way someone finds dignity, satisfaction, and peace in serving one's country at war.  Not because it is easy, or even necessarily the first vocation one would choose for oneself, but because it is Right.

It is about the Other, the Beloved, and placing his needs and desires before my own.  I want my son's earliest memories (the ones so far back they become only traces of feelings) to be full of a sense of security, of the assurance of my presence, my companionship, my love, and my attentiveness to him.

I want this because I believe it is right.  I believe it is right in the very way some modern feminists believe it is right for a woman to "have a life outside the home."  And I want it because it is right and not because I am lazy, timid, incompetent, or afraid to take on the world.

'Cause I'm pretty sure that I'm more suited to the opposite.

If I had the choice, what would I do?  I'd like to say that I would be a home-schooling mom for the next eighteen years**, and a productive one at that (!), but perhaps boredom and self-interest would drive me to work regardless.***  Especially by the time the baby becomes an independent adolescent, and less time is needed in looking after him and more time is free to clean the bathroom and sweep the kitchen.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a place and time where a single profession that earns enough to take care of a family is easy to find.

*  Exceptions not withstanding.  I believe there are some situations in which it suits the spouses and children best for the mother to work and the father to stay at home.  But the intrinsic natures of men and women generally fit better with the nurturer-vs.-provider model. 
**  I would be remiss if I didn't mention that to be true to this vision, I would be open to having many more children.
***  The third alternative to "productive, attentive housewife" and "working woman" is a sin to which I am especially vulnerable.  It would be very tempting for me to waste time say, reading Doctor Who fanfiction on the internet, making useless holiday crafts and decorations, or going window-shopping in antique stores, to avoid what I view as less entertaining, more productive work.  This is certainly not right either, and perhaps in that case, it would be better for me to make a productive contribution to society by holding down a job.


  1. You make wonderful points and you have such great wisdom and a beautiful heart!

  2. I'm lucky enough to be able to stay at home full time, and I still fail at making cinnamon rolls!!

    I know what you mean about being better suited to things other than domesticity..I know I am, but fortunately, our kids (and hopefully our husbands!) aren't harsh critics :) Seth is tolerant of my distractions, and Yarrow is just glad to have someone around. :) I hope you enjoy your working time while it lasts :)


Leave me a comment! Don't be shy!