Friday, February 13, 2009
So, what do you think?
(Uh-oh...I think this might be another soapbox moment.)
My sister has decided she wants to be a Stay-at-Home-Wife and her husband is totally on board with that. They are able to afford to have her stay home, if they cut back a little and they're both willing to do that. The problem (as she sees it): They have no kids. So, she feels she should be doing something valuable with her time and feels guilty for wanting to stay home. When we talked about this, so many things struck me at once that I had to ask you all your opinions.
1) Why isn't it valuable for someone (gender irrelevant here) to stay home and care for the home?
2) Isn't part of the problem with "home" these days is that no one has the time to care for it?
3) Doesn't everyone function better in a well-run home?
4) Why does she have to have children to make this choice more "legitimate"?
I've talked with Superman about this dilemma and we both agree that there is tremendous value in someone being home and actually, mindfully, caring for the home. I worked full-time for the first ten years of our marriage and I won't deny that there was a huge adjustment to be made when I came home full-time. It wasn't always easy, and like my sister I often wondered if I were not actually making a valuable contribution, but it was worth it. From being better organized and better fed, to being more self-sufficient and making a better use of the household's resources, we think there is tremendous value in having someone "managing" the home.
My sister and her husband moved into a new house in a new town in August or September and they both started working at new jobs immediately. Guess where all their energy and focus was directed? Not at home. Fast forward a few months and my sister had quit her job and run smack dab into the holidays. Guess where her focus was? Not really on her home...instead it was more on "pulling off the holidays when she felt like a crazy person". So, here we are in second week of February and she's begun to relax. She sees tons of things that need to be done in her house and actually starts thinking she can get them done. But, alas, then the ugly voice begins again: "You should do something important, something valuable. Go make some money instead of WASTING your time here."
When did having a well-run home become a waste of time? Or, even more absurd, when did it become accepted that she should be in charge of a well-run home and devoted to full-time employment? Why isn't being home, caring for your home and your community, an admirable pursuit?
Finally, why does she have to have children to want these things? No, I'm not being naive...I understand that many people think children are an "excuse" to stay home. No, they add a lot of work to the job of keeping a home running and many, many of us take years to figure out how to make it all work. I would have loved to have been home for a few years before I had children...instead, I did at-home training to learn to care for my home. It wasn't that long ago that no one would have expected her to go to work after she got married. (Yes, I know also that in many cases she wouldn't have been allowed to, but the point is, the time she would have been at home was considered too important to lose her contribution.)
Why would it be more legitimate for her to work full time for money she doesn't need, to buy things she doesn't need, so that she doesn't have time to care for and do the things she (and her husband) really want to do? When did this become the way things are done?
So, what do you think? Should my sister go back to work? Should she feel good about staying home and turning this new house into their home? What are your thoughts? Let me know...