Growing up in a small town, I was your average American kid.
I had everything a young girl could ever want: interesting hobbies, a fun group of friends, and an education (which I didn’t appreciate at the time, but sure do now!)
Oh, and I had my family.
The oldest of a clan of siblings, I was often too busy or distracted to devote much time to my brothers and sisters.
My dad worked all day.
My mom stayed at home—always busy in the other room doing something that was of benefit to our family.
Of course, I was too busy with my own “life” to pay much attention to exactly what it was that she was doing.
I just knew that she was there.
In another room.
And that was enough for me.
“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” ~ William Ross Wallace
BECOMING A MOTHER
Fast forward a few decades and I, too, found myself playing the role of mother.
My children have stayed busy over the years with their hobbies, friends, and education, and I’ve witnessed it all from my favorite place on earth—home.
I’ve always been a stay-at-home mom.
Up until the day that I wasn’t.
Not long ago, a change in our family’s circumstances made it requisite that I return to work. I tried my best to schedule my work hours during the kid’s activities so that they would never have to be alone at home without me. Gratefully, I had much success in doing so.
But still, there are occasional days when they are left on their own.
Sure, it’s become the norm for women to work outside the home, but it nearly broke my heart to have to walk away from my favorite role in life—that of a stay-at-home mom.
“We fancy that God can only manage His world with battalions, when all the while he is doing it by beautiful babies. When a wrong wants righting, or a truth needs preaching or a continent needs opening, God sends a baby into the world . . . perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.” –E.T. Sullivan
“Oh, they’ll be fine,” I told myself, trying to ease the pain. “They’ll be so busy playing and doing chores and homework for the few hours that I’m away that they won’t even miss me.”
After all, my children are growing up and becoming more independent to the point that, when I AM at home, they can spend hours in another room “doing their own thing” while I am somewhere else in the house tackling my own “to do” list.
“They don’t show any signs of missing me on THOSE days when we go hours at a time without seeing each other, why would they miss me more just because I am at work?” I reasoned with myself.
These thoughts calmed my troubled heart for months as I dutifully went to work and then returned home to resume my role as mother.
I thought things were going well until, one day, my son said the words I dreaded most.
“I miss you, mom.”
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” ~ Mother Teresa
My heart stopped momentarily, and I asked him what he meant. After all, I was sitting right next to him, rubbing his back and having a fun conversation about the events of his day.
“I mean,” he continued, “I miss you when you’re not here…when you’re at work…”.
I blinked back the tears.
“What do you mean you miss me when I’m not here? Don’t you stay busy playing with Legos and doing your chores and homework?” I asked. “Don’t you stay too busy to miss me?”
He looked down at the ground and shrugged.
“It’s just not the same when you’re not here,” he whispered.
And my heart officially broke in two.
What I took for granted as a child—having a mother who was always in the next room—is something that my son desires more than anything else at this time in his life.
It doesn’t matter that he may not see me for hours at a time while his nose is in a book, or while he is playing with Legos. What matters, more than words can express, is that he knows that I’m there, in the next room, being who he needs me to be—his mom. He knows that a mother’s place is in the home.
“…no universal agent of civilization exists, but through mothers. Nature has placed in their hands, our infancy and youth. I have been among the first to declare the necessity of making them, by improved education, capable of fulfilling their natural mission.
The love of God and man, is the basis of this system. In proportion as it prevails, national enmities will disappear, prejudices become extinguished, civilization spread itself far and wide,–one great people cover the earth, and the reign of God be established. This is to be hastened, by the watchful care of mothers over their offspring, from the cradle upwards.” ~ Lydia Sigourney
A MOTHER’S PLACE IS IN THE HOME
Mothers, never underestimate the impact you have on your children just by being present in your home.
For those mothers who find themselves in the workplace, I am now one of you.
I have no judgment.
Some women are forced into the workplace; others choose to be there.
Again, no judgment.
My only desire is that we, as mothers, acknowledge the impact that our absence in the home has on our children.
Living in denial, as I have done, is not the answer.
As generations before us have proven—a mother’s place is in the home.
“The greatest work we will ever do will be within the walls of our own home.” – David O. McKay
A PLEA FROM ONE MOM TO ANOTHER
So no matter our lot in life, Mothers—even if our current circumstances prevent us from fully living the edict—let us never, ever stop believing that a woman’s place is in the home.
“A century ago [in 1809] men were following with bated breath the march of Napoleon and waiting with feverish impatience for news of the wars. And all the while in their homes babies were being born. But who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles. In one year between Trafalgar and Waterloo there stole into the world a host of heroes: Gladstone was born in Liverpool; Tennyson at the Somersby Rectory, and Oliver Wendell Holmes in Massachusetts. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, and music was enriched by the advent of Felix Mendelssohn in Hamburg. But nobody thought of babies, everybody was thinking of battles. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809? We fancy God can manage his world only with great battalions, when all the time he is doing it with beautiful babies. When a wrong wants righting, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants discovering, God sends a baby into the world to do it.” ~ F. M. Bareham
How has being a stay-at-home mom blessed your life?
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