A few months back, my wife and I were talking with some friends, and the topic of work came up. They told us what they did for a living. I told them I was a pastor of a church in Oklahoma. My wife was last, and she simply said that she raised our girls for a living. One of our friends responded “so you’re just a stay at home mom.” Jennifer responded yes, of course, a stay at home mom. Later as we were driving home, I looked at Jennifer and said “Sweetheart, your not JUST A stay at home mom, you ARE a stay at home mom.” You see, though not said purposely, our friend revealed what they believed in their heart about motherhood as a profession — they saw it as settling.
I’m going to level with you — any woman who chooses to stay home and invest their time to accept the high paying salary of diapers, fits, hugs, and kisses is a woman that I respect and feel accomplishes more than any CEO, pastor, or business person. The family is the cornerstone of any society. When the family goes south, so goes the society. When did we think the best care takers of our families were minimum wage employees?
When I was in seminary and Jennifer and I were pregnant… well, I enjoyed milk shakes, and Jennifer carried the baby. Our journey in seminary was one of partnership — we both carried the burden equally. My schedule in seminary was pretty hectic. I worked 20 hours cleaning, worked 20+ hours as senior adult minister at Handley Baptist Church, and took a full load at seminary. To pay bills, Jennifer worked 40 hours (after she graduated), and our two minimum wage salaries together paid for life. When we found out that we were pregnant, Jennifer and I took a long look at our finances. We were cash strapped, and adding a mouth was not going to be cheap. What we decided to do was to cut things many people consider necessities but in all actuality are conveniences. On top of that, as we looked at child care we realized that placing our daughter in day care would take Jennifer’s entire monthly wage. So I manned up, starting working 40 hours at the seminary, along with the church load and school load so that Jennifer could have the honor of raising our child. Why? Because Jennifer and I both feel that she accomplishes more with our kids at home that she could ever accomplish in the work world.
What does a mom accomplish?
First, Jennifer is able to give our two girls the attention they need to develop into mature young ladies. I have to tell you there have been points when I have not respected my wife’s profession. In the mornings as Jennifer fixes breakfast and I get ready for work, we turn on the Disney Channel. In my thick head I thought on several occasions, wow I wish I could stay home and watch TV all day. Then, I was sick and actually saw what Jennifer does all day. She’s like a marine, she accomplishes more before lunch than most people do all day. I have realized lately how smart my daughter is, and I can simply say it’s because Jennifer has invested every day into her life (she can count to twenty).
Second, Jennifer is able to raise two girls who are morally grounded. We have noticed when our girls go on vacation to Fort Worth and San Antonio that we have a week of detox. As the girls spend time with Gram or Nana, they are a bit more spoiled than they are at home, so we need about a week remind them that Jennifer and I do not exist to fulfill their every desire (don’t worry grandparents, we expect it). I can’t imagine how confusing it must be for a child who has the daycare set of rules and the home set of rules. Our girls have the same standard from the moment they rise to the moment they lay their head on their pillow. It’s my opinion that down the road, this will pay off in dividends as they will be grounded in the foundation that Jennifer and I have poured.
Finally, but certainly not completely, Jennifer is able to lay a spiritual foundation that will last for eternity. As Jennifer and I sat at the table this week we were talking about my recent sermon series on building missional relationships. She told me how frustrated she gets because with two girls it’s hard to go anywhere, let alone have the time to share the gospel with anyone. Then we both realized we are living with two pagans (a 3 year old and a 2 year old), our first mission field is our family.
Let me share one more story. In the weeks leading up to Easter, Jennifer committed to teaching Ana the Easter story. By Good Friday, Ana had it down. At WHBC we hold a retelling of the Easter story just to stop and remember. That night through some circumstances we were unable to have help in the nursery so Jennifer stepped back to watch our two girls. As she sat in our nursery the chairman of deacons came back to give Jennifer the Lord’s Supper. On seeing him Ana began to yell at the top of her lungs “HE’S ALIVE, HE’S ALIVE, HE SAYS I LOVE YOU ANA!”
Every day my wife gets to be a missionary to two sponges who hang on her every word. Sadly, I could never understand how any person could see motherhood as settling. At the end of a day a doctor can say he has saved X number of lives. At the end of a day a CEO can say he made X number of dollars. At the end of the day a mom can say she has impacted the lives of her kids in a way no other person could. I am the legacy of a stay at home mom. I am the biggest fan of my stay at home wife. I hope when my daughters grow up they might consider their children as their legacy.
To Nana: Thank you for investing in me.
To Jennifer: Thank you for working every day in our daughters’ lives. I love you.
To Ana and Emma: As your mom has given you a priceless gift, I hope one day you might appreciate her sacrifice and love for you.