Some friends recently shared a blog article titled “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” The author of the blog writes passionately on the subject and its very apparent that he is a proud husband that appreciates and honors his wife for making a life choice that so many people have an opinion on, yet so few women do.
Time magazine wrote an article last year stating that “70% of married women over the age of 25 with children work outside the home”. This means that 30% of all married women over the age of 25 and have kids are stay at home mom’s. 30%. That is a significant amount but at the same time not really when compared to the 70% that do not stay home. On top of those statistics, the article reports that according to the U.S Census Bureau out of the 30% of stay at home moms most tend to be “less educated, Hispanic and have a more traditional view of family”. The report also goes on to say that out of the 30% of stay at home moms “18% of those mom’s lack a high school education and those with the least amount of education are the most likely to stay out of the work force and stay at home with their children”. Those are very interesting statistics to say the least.
Now…when it comes to the statistics on homeschooling stay at home moms the numbers give more clarity as to who is actually homeschooling. According to several home school statistic websites most of the 2.35 million home school families in the U.S. are white (approx 78-80%), a small percentage are black families and an even smaller percentage are Hispanic, .7% to be exact.
To combine both the stay at home mom statistics with the home school statistics puts me and my family in the super tiny percentage of stay at home Hispanic moms that home school. This is not even taking into account the evangelical Christian component. I’m sure the .7% would drop even further.
As a stay at home mom that home schools, the article prompted serious thought on my own personal reasons for staying at home. My husband’s daughters from his first marriage have stated to me on more than one occasion that they think I am “spoiled” for staying at home or that Paul “spoils” me for allowing me to stay at home. I know women who refuse to stay at home even with little ones because they have stated it would drive them crazy if they had to stay at home all day with their kids…more so if they home schooled their kiddos. Combining my own personal experience with the experience that the blog author shares along with the research that the Time’s article reveals there are very few favorable opinions on moms that choose to stay at home with their children. Separating the evangelical Christian population, becoming a stay at home mom is typically seen as a last resort option for a woman who is married with children, yet statistically speaking, its a first resort option for an uneducated Hispanic woman who is married with children.
I never had a deep embedded desire to be a stay at home mom, much less a home school mom. I personally now know many stay at home moms that have expressed to me that their dream as a little girl was to to grow up and be a wife and mom who stayed at home. I can’t even remotely relate to that kind of thinking. That idea was and is completely absurd and foreign to me. I grew up in a single parent home and we were poor. Seriously poor. I knew that I wanted to get an education and get out in the “real world” (meaning have a career) but due to my horrible life choices I ended up falling into the stereotypical Hispanic statistics of getting pregnant at 18 and 19 and not having an education. I eventually enrolled in college when my 2 young daughters were 3 and 4. My girls were day care kids and stayed day care kids until they graduated to after school program kids. I eventually joined the military and ended up shuffling them off to relatives. My career goals and education were definitely more important to me then raising my children. They suffered for it but I was determined. I was determined I would no longer be that stereotypical statistic of being an uneducated single parent Hispanic female that I saw prevalent and rampant in my culture. I even voluntarily gave up custody of one of my daughters to her father so I could join the military, a decision that would cause me great remorse, regret and guilt for years to come. After one failed military marriage (meaning both my ex-husband and I were in the Army when we got married and then later divorced) God saved me from my sin and the consequences of making one bad life choice after another.
I re-married a great Christian guy and had our last child soon thereafter. I was still pursing education even up to my pregnancy with my son and ended up being put on bed rest. Even though I was remarried to an awesome Christian guy, which by the way was another foreign concept, I was still determined to not be that statistic and continued pursing an education so that one day I can get out into the “real world”. It would take several more years for me to realize that my life as a wife and mom was the “real world”. I had no idea that God had other plans for me and much to my dismay I fought it every step of the way.
I share that little snippet of testimony to stress that I did not set out to be a stay at home mom. I felt that being a stay at home meant
1) it was for uneducated women
2) it was for those with no skills for “real life”
3) no validation in life either in the form of paychecks or praise from other co-workers or the boss
4) it sounded boring (yes I used to think “what DO they do all day besides watch soap operas”
5) was for women who had no drive to succeed in life or did not want to contribute to the world for the better good. (cheesy, I know, but that’s how I thought)
Basically I bought into the American perspective on what success should look like for a woman. Being from an impoverished Hispanic background I felt I had more to lose if I did not succeed in the “real world” or have some kind of title to my name, like teacher or counselor, the two college majors I pursued.
Over the last 7 years, my perspective gradually changed. Not because I happily decided I wanted to stay at home, but because circumstance did not allow me to go back into the work force. After my conversion I was trying to go one way, but God in His perfect will and Soverign providence had me going a different direction. God placed in my life different women who encouraged and motivated me to embrace staying at home and helped build up my confidence to embark on the strong conviction I had to start home schooling my two young kiddos. Trust me when I say I did not start out thinking or believing good things about staying at home or home schooling. I had things to prove to the world about myself and staying at home was not going to accomplish what I was determined to do. I even believed the crazy stereotype that home school moms were white “hippy” women who wore long skirts, wore flowers in their hair and taught their children kumbaya. I know….sounds pretty hilarious but that’s what I thought. I was trying to break free from the negative Mexican stereotypes and statistics….not become another foreign one.
I still struggle greatly with staying at home. It does not comes easy for me. Home schooling my children does not come easy for me. Even though I no longer feel the tug of the “real world” (aka- career world) calling me, I feel a deep internal struggle with validation and significance. I have to constantly remind myself with WHO I am in Christ and rest…truly rest in knowing that because God saved me while I was still drenched in sin, adopted me into His family and has slowly and painfully sanctified me these last 9 years, that that is enough. I don’t need my degree to validate me. I don’t need a career to validate me. I don’t need co-workers to validate me. I don’t need my own paycheck to validate me. I don’t need a title to validate me. I don’t need to go “save the world”. Jesus has already done it for those that believe in Him. But most importantly, Christ validated me when He saved me by justifying me before the Father and validates me every day by sanctifying me daily. There is no validation from any other source that trumps that.
I have to purposely remind myself that there is nothing that I can do outside of raising the last two kiddos God has graciously blessed me with that will cause my life to be more fulfilling or more significant. I tried it with my first two kids and I failed THEM. After much prayer and repentance I had to give that failure to God because it was too big of a burden for me to carry around. If I could re-do anything in my past, it would be to put my first two kids before education and career. If I could share any bit of advice with other mom’s…it would be that every single day with your children is significant. You won’t necessarily see it on a day to day basis when the dirty clothes are piling up or when the house is a mess, or when you are tired of repeatedly correcting heart issues and bad attitudes…..but when they grow up and they are out in the “real world”….YOU WILL.