Housewives and Paychecks

Here's one of my favorite articles from last summer for you to read while I'm busy burying my kids up to their heads in sand today. Women are living in a very strange era.  We’ve rebelled against entrapping traditional stereotypes, and now we are in the aftermath of liberal feminism.  Yet here we are with more choices than ever and even more consternation about our role in society.   Most of us do not want to be identified with Mrs. Cleaver or Hilary Clinton.  Frankly, we want the positive home life and relationships of the Cleavers, but we also recognize our ambition to serve our communities alongside our neighbors.  Striving to find our niche and fulfill our role in both our families and communities, we are growing weary.  This weariness was on my mind as I listened to Tim Keller’s sermon on work and rest. I believe the latest estimate of a housewife’s worth is about 135 K a year.  Yes, I know, there are so many things wrong with this statement.  But, on the other hand, I think a major struggle for stay-at-home moms is the lack of a pay check.  Hear me out before you judge my greediness or call me a feminist. I am currently a stay-at-home mom (please don’t make me say homemaker).  I have also worked outside the home earlier in my marriage.  Everyone knows how hard housewives work, and where I am in my own busyness; I admire you mom’s who pull off outside work as well.  You know that when you get off work you are still on the clock at home.  I try to tell the kids that mommy has punched out her time card for the day, but they continue to need me anyway.  We go from short order cook to chauffeur, nurse, fashion consultant, hostess, educator, entertainer, economist, laundry service, housecleaner, conflict manager…moms wear many hats. Sometimes we may feel a little jipped that no one noticed our one day feat of cleaning the kitchen seven times, devotions with the kids, entertaining guests, working out, removing gum from hair, washing three loads of laundry, feeding all the neighbors kids, and making dinner with fresh picked ingredients from the garden.  Other jobs offer compensation for time served in the form of a paycheck.  It’s very gratifying.  They also get to be acknowledged for their work in some form of evaluation several times a year.  My only written proof of something I’ve contributed to our family is the amount you saved today typed on my Martin’s receipt.  And I wave it in the air with pride. So what do I do?  More.  I do more because I might not be doing enough.  My husband seems to think I’m great, but I have this compelling force inside of me that wants to be better at what I do.  Whether housewives have outside work or not, we all feel compelled to be Superwoman.  I think this is why women on Facebook like to tell us what they’re making for dinner, or that they ran three miles today.  Someone will have to take notice that they made homemade peach cobbler or cleaned the grout in their tile all afternoon.  What a great little resume that can be built on a Facebook profile.  We need to stand out, to get that societal promotion that we rock at this whole pro bono housewife gig.  People may take notice of our stellar contributions. Keller’s sermon highlights how driven our society is to succeed.  We constantly work for the accomplishment and praise we are seeking.  Many times it is a promotion or some other recognition that will push us ahead.  Hopefully, it will fill us with the meaning and value that we are aiming to receive from our hard labors.  But it doesn’t.  Only Christ can do that.  He is our full satisfaction.  He alone is sufficient. This lesson may be easier for the housewife.  We can never fully rest from the chores that need to be done, or the kids that need our attention.  We constantly feel like big, fat failures in our attempts to be the perfect wife and mother.  This is particularly when I need to be reminded that God (the only one I need to impress) looks at me, and on the account of Christ, he is utterly satisfied.  I can rest in the work of Christ.  There is no Superwoman ideal that I need to attain.  Now I am liberated to serve him in gratitude, knowing that He is my reward.  Not earning a paycheck and not having specific days off (sigh) may compel me all the more to really evaluate what I think I’m earning for myself.  Then I can realize that I don’t keep the world running, and I can rest in the One who does.