Imagine with me for a minute; you’re back in 4th grade. You’ve just gotten off the bus after a long day at school. Perhaps you were ignored by your best friend today; or yelled at by your teacher. Perhaps you were picked on in the school yard, or laughed at for dropping a ball in PE. You burst through the door as fast as your small legs can carry you. Where do you go?
For me there was an obvious answer. Find mom. One of my most favorite memories will probably be coming home to a mother that was in the kitchen making something that smelled good. Somehow the sight of her seemed to make everything better by itself. I’d come in and sit down at the bar and unload about my day as she peeled potatoes for soup, or chopped onions for a casserole. I’d go on about how unfair life was from my nine year old perspective. How my best friend hated me, and no one would play with me anymore. How I would probably never make it past 4th grade and be stuck forever in elementary school. Whatever problems seemed monumental to a 4th grader. Somehow I knew this time was safe. Mom would make it better. She would listen to my problems and sympathize with me; sometimes she had a similar story from her childhood, sometimes she gave advice, and sometimes she just listened to me ramble.
This was always a feeling of security for me. The world was good. Things would be ok. There was dinner on the table, the house was warm, and I had a mother that loved me. What more could there be for a 9 year old?
I’m sure we’ve all had experiences like this. Whether it’s a mother that listened to all our childish woes, or was there cheering at every baseball game; we’ve had those moments that make up the good things of our childhood. Those little things that make such a difference to a growing boy or girl. For me, I don’t think I’d trade these moments for anything. They hold a warm spot in my heart, and ideal I want to live for. Sure life wasn’t always rosy and life at home wasn’t perfect, but I’m sure we’d all agree that those little moments can make all the difference. I’m sure we’d also agree the impact a mother can make in the home.
There are many now that would paint this idea of a mother in the home, as one of a stifled women. There are many that feel that now a days, mothers can be replaced by day care, or nannys, or schools. They feel the place for women is now beside men in the work force. They call for equality to be found when they have as many women as men outside of the home. The number of women in the work force is growing. Many see this as a good thing. Many say this is liberating.
But I wonder what their children think?
While I agree that it is wonderful that women now have rights and are able to pursue the goals they have set for themselves, I don’t understand why they continue to push for the women to be out of the home. Why is it necessary that she be doing exactly the same things as a man to be counted as successful? While the world may look at degrees or positions to say that a women has been successful, how many children do you know that care whether their mother graduated with a 4.0 or a 3.0? In the eyes of little children, they don’t care what title she holds outside of the home. To them she will always be ‘Momma’.
I do know that in some cases the mother isn’t able to be home; for many different reasons sometimes the mother has to split her time between children and work. This is not to say that her children will be scarred forever because of this. I know of many families that are able to make this situation work. With the added strain of the work force, this spreads the mother thin, making it difficult to focus effectively on both. With both requiring attention, one would need to sacrifice at the expense of the other. I believe the better sacrifice to make would be living off of a little bit less; making do, to make time for your children.
If you wonder what the impact of not having the mother in the home would be, imagine with me again.
This same 4th grader is coming home from a long day. They walk home slowly thinking about what was said to them that day. Upon reaching the door they pull out their key and unlock the door themselves. They come into an empty house and put their backpack by the door. Perhaps after grabbing a snack from the fridge, they flop down on the couch and turn on the TV. Perhaps they call in to a parent to let them know they’re home. Perhaps they are even motivated enough to do their homework on their own. But what now?
Maybe for some that is normal, maybe for some that seems an acceptable home life. I know for myself, this isn’t what I would have wanted; this isn’t what I want for my children. I feel that if this is done throughout a child’s life, they will grow up expecting it to be the same. I believe this will negatively affect the family. I believe for the family to be the strongest, if at all possible, the mother should be in the home. The support and stability of my own mother in the home was always a strength for me to lean on. This is something that I want for my children, and something I would wish for all children.
I believe that we should focus on taking away the stigma that to be successful in life a mother needs to work outside of the home. I believe that this view is harmful to the family, and work should be done to change that in the world. I believe mothers in the home should be celebrated and congratulated.
I think that Strickland Gillilan said it perfectly in his poem The Reading Mother. Please forgive my addition of three words.
“…You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who [was home and] read to me.”
Aubrey Walton is a student at Brigham Young University – Idaho majoring in Marriage and Family Studies, minoring in Culinary. She’s originally from Federal Way, Washington, and loves cooking, baking, Ultimate Frisbee, and all things family.
Gillilan, Strickland. The Reading Mother. Public domain
Carrington College. Women in the workforce. Retrieved from http://carrington.edu/blog/carrington-college-news/women-in-the-workforce/
Clark, Marsha. Divine Caroline. Six facts about women in the workforce Retrieved from