Motherhood: A Career?

Have you ever been asked the question, “So, what do you do?” I have found myself dreading the question and repeatedly responding, “Oh, I’m just a mom.” “I’m just a homemaker.” Why do I speak of myself in a negative fashion? How easily we forget all that really goes into being a wife, mother, and homemaker. It’s not for wimps. It’s a challenging task and the most rewarding career you can pursue. We are loving and nurturing children day in and day out. This work can change nations…through the simply loving and guiding the heart of a child. How many different skills does a mother and homemaker have to possess? Next time someone asks you, “what do you do?”

Here’s your answer:

Accountant
Administrator
Advisor
Barber
Beautician
Chauffer
Cheerleader
Coach
Cook
Counselor
Driving Instructor
Gardener
Hostess
Helper
Interior decorator
Landscape designer
Maid
Merchant
Mind-reader
Mother
Nutritionist
Nurse
Organizer
Prayer-warrior
Psychologist
Seamstress (whether I like it or not, there are buttons to sew back on and holes to patch up!)
Spiritual advisor
Teacher
Waitress AND wife

The list goes on….You don’t need to be ashamed to say you are a wife and mother any more…Let’s declare it to the world with pride and delight!

What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.
-Martin Luther

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

36 Responses to Motherhood: A Career?

  1. Natausha August 17, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    Thank you SO much for writing this! It was just what I needed to hear. I’ve struggle with this for years because I too didn’t finish college, God gave me a wonderful husband and soon after, a beautiful daughter! Although, I was so thankful for these things, I still felt like a such a failure when people found out that I had stepped away. In their mind, I had quit and was a drop out. Now when people ask me what I do, it’s hard not to try to give other explanations or excuses but I know He’s bringing me to a place where I can say, “I’m a daughter of God, wife, and mother” and say it with pride. Thank you for writing this. I know I was supposed to read it this day. : )

  2. Lacey Wilcox August 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Something the Lord has really been stressing upon my life is the importance of preaching the Gospel to myself in times like this. When I have thoughts of “I’m just a __________” (and I think we can fill in the blank with lots of things, not just motherhood), my words are actually an attempt to make much of myself: I want affirmation that who I am and what I do is worthy, fulfilling, purposeful, and valued. That is not a bad thing at all.
    What is bad is when I seek to find that value and affirmation in who I am and what I do, rather than in who Christ is and what He has done. When we really believe that because of Christ and His work on the Cross we now have an identity in Him that is good, sure, fulfilling, and valued, our lives become a whole lot less about making lists to show we have value and a whole lot more about embracing our identity in Him and seeking to make each stage of our life one in which we put our delight and hope in Him.
    I seriously don’t mean that preachy–I actually broke down on my husband this weekend for this very thing. The Lord graciously used him to remind me of these good and perfect truths.

  3. Carrie August 4, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    I never would have thought this would have created such a controversy! It is hard giving up a career to stay at home and support both your children and your husband. You give up a part pf your life that defined you at some point. It can be crippling to give up that part of you. Some of us, like me, can not seem to give up their outside job. We are finally in a financial position in which I could stop teaching instead I am going another year ( maybe, there are some changes in my position that may influence my decision). I am awesome at my job, I work with children who have special needs. I get summers with my girls and I love it. I should be home. Stay at home, at least for me is hard, I value a stay at home mom so very much. I hope that in a year or sooner I am brave enough and confident enough to take on this role. For now, thank you for devoting your passion and your christian teachings to support your family in your career as mother.

  4. Z August 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Taking good care of children is job enough. Own your choices and stand behind them! There is no need to justify the decision (or circumstances) that led to being a SAHM with lists like this.

    Every mother is a full-time mother — even those of us, like me, who work outside the home. My mom and aunts chose to give up paid employment to stay at home with their kids. (I was born in the 1970s.) I respect that work tremendously even though it is not the right choice for me and my family. And, my mom fully supports me in this! Staying at home with kids is a very important and difficult job in its own right.

  5. April Hale August 4, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Absolutely loved this!!!!

    Bravo!!!!

  6. Amanda August 4, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    I am a stay at home mom and I have also been a working mom. I don’t think that either mom’s job is harder or more valued. I will say that I don’t agree with Kara’s first comment. Normally I don’t say anything but it really kind of rubbed me the wrong way. There IS a magic to making sure you can do it all well. I understand that while not being a mom that you do all of these things for other important people in your life. But being a mom wouldn’t be the big responsibility that it is and the big job that it is if it was no big deal to incorporate into your daily routine. I am very sorry to hear about your loss of your child Kara – I’ve lost a child myself. And honestly I will never “get over it” as some people say they do. But that’s just me. I work so hard and have since my children were born to be as good of a mom as I can – always trying to improve so I find it kind of a slap in the face to hear someone say being a mom is just like any other job. I’m sure that you work very hard in your profession and I hope that you don’t feel like people throw being a mother in your face as a way to appear better or higher valued than you. I will say cleaning my house was easier when I was single and didn’t have kids. Cooking for me and my husband was simpler when I didn’t have to plan around allergies. Finding extra time to dedicate to my career or hobbies was possible when I didn’t have to work around therapy schedules, sports games & school functions. I wouldn’t trade it for the world but I think that raising good, respectful and productive children DOES take lots of time and effort and those who chose to be mothers deserve the respect and not being accused of playing mommy martyr game. Sometimes moms need to talk about being a mom because sometimes maybe they don’t feel as though people in their household understands how much they do. I know I do! My husband is wonderful and supportive but sometimes I need to talk to my girlfriends! I think this was one of those chats. I don’t think anyone meant to come across as high and mighty or better than anyone. I do believe that being a mom is the hardest job in the world and I commend any mother who puts her heart into her kids for doing a wonderful job.

  7. April August 4, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for this post. It’s hard when even my extended family tells me I’m “wasting my brains” and not “earning my worth” by being a full-time mommy to my three young munchkins. It would be so much easier to have a job and not have kids…SO much easier. But not nearly so rewarding! I love what I do. And this reminder that it’s OKAY to do it and love it is encouraging.

  8. Lia August 4, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    Since there are so many mothers in North America that work full time outside of the home and leave their children in other people’s care for 40 plus hours of the week, I like to reply that I am “a full-time mom”

    I have TWO University degrees, one of them actually making me a “professional” and I have always aspired to have a big career…that is until I had my first child. That’s when I realized that almost any woman can have paid-employment, but not every woman chooses to be a real good full-time mom, so I take God’s glory over the world’s idea of success.

    I understand that work-outside-the-home moms are always moms too and their lives are no doubt a very challenging balancing act and perhaps even a race to get things done; but they are not physically doing “mom duties” full time and so they do not have all of the hardships and sacrifice that come with full-time mothering.

    In this day and age of materialism and me-first attitudes I’m honored to make the decision to give my children the very best upbringing and to put my family first. So again, I am very proud to tell people that I am a full-time mom.

    • Angela August 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      I think that was well said, Lia. I love being a SAHM, but I have had comments made to me that we could have more money, a bigger house, or a nicer car if I would just ” pitch in ” and earn a paycheck. This is so hurtful. I feel so blessed that my husband really loves having me home with our kids, and that I am not missing any milestones, but I wish that I wasn’t sometimes made to feel like a freeloader. I don’t regret doing with less to have the peace of mind about how my little ones are being cared for during the day, and wish we weren’t defined as hardworking or sucessful based on whether or not we have a paying job.

    • Britney August 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      VERY well said. Very encouraging. I know many women who are into the whole idea of “me first” and materialism and they give me that, “I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t be around my kids all day. I want my own money” and sometimes I feel like I have to explain myself. Even though I love my job and I wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world, I can get discouraged.

  9. Noël McNeil August 3, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Thanks for posting this! I needed this today more than you know. ;)

  10. Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker August 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Thanks for this list and reminder!

  11. Cherie' August 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    I would just like to add, that this week my 9 year old daughter overheard her father and I speaking about the idea of me starting work in the fall at the family business (for a mere few hours a day, 3 days a week) while she and her sister are in school. My daughter was in tears, told me she needed me at home, and absolutely did not want me working. Then she added, “When someone asks me what my mom does, I won’t be able to say that you’re a stay-at-home mom anymore.” Needless to say, I am so proud that my being home for her means so much to her, and moreover, that SHE takes pride in me being her stay-at-home mom. Sometimes it seems so appealing, to bring home more money and be a part of the “adult working world” but I know I will have time for that in the future. Right now, I’m not only “blessed to be a stay-at-home mom” I choose it!

  12. Melissa August 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    This post is meant to encourage stay-at-home-moms. I am a working mom with a demanding career and busy home life. I look at these posts and think…gee, these stay-at-home moms have it easy, they have all day to do what I only have a few hrs in the evening to get done. I still cook from scratch, go shopping, help with homework assignments, clean, and everything else. I just have from 5pm – 10pm to do it, not all morning and evening as well.

    BUT, then I realize that posts like this are meant to encourage those moms that stay at home and don’t have careers. They lack adult conversions and make a lot of financial sacrifices to make ends make on one income. They don’t get an hr lunch break everyday to read and catch up with friends, or able to stop for coffee on the way into the office.

    One thing we can all admit is whether or not we are SAHMs or working mom, being a MOM is hard for all of us!

    • bobcat August 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

      I stay at home, and I don’t lack adult conversations! That is what I have my husband and friends for. Yeah, maybe I don’t have quite as many as those working, but that’s okay.

  13. Stacey August 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    I have experienced this same thing in just slightly different way. I do not have children, but I live a very different lifestyle. I am blessed to have the freedom to spend most of my time exploring my passions and traveling, and I only have to work once in a while (such as going 3 years without working a “real” job, only doing a few things for friends or family). When people would ask me what I do, I would stumble over myself trying to come up with an answer. “Waitress” I would say sometimes, which is true on occasion, but it by far is not what I do or who I am.

    I finally have resolved this inner confusion and the need to come up with an answer that I think they want. I now say “I Live Life!”. That is truly what I do with each and every moment. I think it is what we all should do. Whether we have a job, stay at home with our children, or travel the world. If we label ourselves with ONE role, what favor are we doing ourselves? We should never simply be one thing. Like your beautiful list illustrates above, even as a mother we aren’t one thing. So by answering “What do you do?” with One thing I think is selling ourselves short.

    So celebrate by answering the question differently every time, and with answers like “I bring joy to my childrens lives” or “I love and nurture myself and those around me!”

    So, What Do You Do?

  14. The Well-Read Housewife August 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    This is almost the same article that I posted just a few days ago. So…agreed.

  15. Holly @ Whole Sweet Home August 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Excellent list and reminder! I am looking forward to making motherhood my lifelong career in the Lord’s timing.

  16. Kara August 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Look, I’m all for dropping the “just” from “Just a mom” … but let’s not pretend that women who don’t have kids don’t do all those things too. We still have to clean our houses, pay our bills, be friends and cheerleaders to those in our lives, do the shopping, do the driving, run the errands, do laundry, wash toilets, work in the garden, interior design our own homes, etc.

    There is no magic to doing those things AND doing another job as well. My other job is being a design engineer. Your other job is “mom”. Both of those things take time and effort and skill. That doesn’t mean that you do more than any other woman out there by virtue of being a “mommy”.

    Let’s stop playing the mommy-martyr game and start being realistic about it.

    • Ellen August 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      I understand your frustration Kara, because that was actually my first thought… and I am a full time homemaker and mother. I don’t tend to like these kinds of lists, because anyone who is asking that question is also responsible for many of those tasks. Much of that list is just plain life.

      I understand where this post is coming from and it is true that homemaking and mothering requires constant commitment to many roles. I appreciate the encouragement! However, I really prefer to put the focus on my true calling when I am asked what I do: “I am blessed to be able to be home with my children” or “I am a full time mother and homemaker” or “I am committed to mothering full time and beginning to homeschool our girls.” All of these answers convey the central reason why our family makes sacrifices so I can be at home: not to have a cleaner house or a better garden, but to raise up children for the Lord. I hope that there are times when my specific, confident answer inspires other to consider the possibility of spending these short years with their children.

      • Kara August 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

        Thank you, Ellen!! I appreciate the understanding. :)

    • Kris August 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

      Kara, I think you should archive your comment and then pull it out a few years after you’ve had children and ponder the words that you have written. No one is playing martyr. Great post, Lindsey.

      • Kara August 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

        Wow Kris. I like the assumptions you’ve made about me. You have no idea where I am in my life, whether I plan to have children, or anything else. Did it ever occur to you that there are people out there who don’t have kids, who don’t plan to have them, and who don’t care to be condescended to by people like you who seem to think we’re inferior for not having them?

        And for your information, I’m 44, had a miscarriage in my early 30s, was never able to conceive, am now divorced, and don’t have any plans to have children going forward.

        So take your holier-than-thou mother attitude and .. well … I won’t even say out of respect to others. Just stay out of my life.

        • Stephnanie August 4, 2012 at 3:26 am #

          Kara – I am sorry you were attacked for sharing your very open & honest response. I am a working mom and I do sometimes feel the frustration when my SAHM friends say things like “I’m a mother 24 hours a day… and nothing is better than that,” because… I am a mother 24 hours a day, too… I am just also a lawyer, a counselor to my clients, an advocate for their needs, a wife…etc., etc., etc. I think it’s important to own our choices and so I don’t expect a gold medal for making mine, I also get tired of constantly having to praise SAHM’s for what they do. To put this into perspective, my husband is a SAHD. I am grateful that he enjoys staying home and am grateful that he took this job on for our family. Thankfully he believes we both have important jobs and roles in our family, and there’s no martyrdom in his view.

          Anyway, all this to say – I appreciate your sentiment and felt the same way. I appreciate all that goes into being a stay-at-home parent, but I think a realistic view would also acknowledge all the sacrifices and hard work that goes into having a demanding career (which yes, I can acknowledge, from experience, mothering or fathering is).

          • Kara August 4, 2012 at 8:15 am #

            Thanks Stephanie!

          • Terri September 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

            Agreed, Stephanie. As a Registered Nurse and a SAHM most weeks of the month . . . I think having a career and a life outside of raising children is a very important example to set for your children. My child sees me working towards helping people . . and I am constantly trying to further my education . . . those are things I would want my child to learn and value. And she is not missing out on not having me towering over her 24/7: she’s fostering relationships with other important caregivers and family members like aunts, uncles and grandparents. I always thought part-time work was the best for everyone considered, but I’m fortunate to have a lot of support in which this was an option.

            Right now, I’m in a position where I have to stay at home with her more often, and although I love the opportunity, I don’t think any more of my responsibilities now than I did when I worked. Quite frankly, I think parents who manage children and careers should be applauded. Knowing both sides of the fence, and I’ll probably get blasted for this: it doesn’t take any specialized skill to raise children if you’re already coming to the table with a lot of love nd patience.

      • Kara August 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

        Ah, I just read your confessions post. I suspect that your response to me is borne out of your own frustrations and guilt. Please don’t push your issues onto me. I’d appreciate it.

    • hillary August 3, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

      Aren’t you coming on a SAHM mom blog, written for SAHM’s, bashing the message and missing the heart? I think the heart is, be confident in your calling, do the tasks before you well, and be proud of that. Your post is harsh Kara, and your responses as well. I am a work outside the home mom. Lindsay’s posts certainly aren’t written TO me either, but there is much to be learned and applied.

      • Kara August 4, 2012 at 8:14 am #

        Hillary, when you write a blog, you don’t get to dictate who reads it or how they respond. You’ve put something out there publicly for everyone to read. I follow this blog because it’s – as the header says – about “Simple, Natural, and Intentional Living.” I follow it for the recipes, the craft ideas, the homemaking ideas – because as I said above, even though I don’t have children, I still do all those things that make a house a home. I still cook. I still make quilts. I still try to organize my house to make my schedule easier.

        So are you saying that because I’m not a mom, I’m not allowed to follow this blog? That I’m not allowed to be interested in living a simple and natural life? That I need to stay away? I thought the message of this blog was “simple and natural living” not “you’re inferior if you’re not a mother”.

        Apparently I was mistaken.

        • hillary August 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

          The way I read your responses, you sound very defensive. I never suggested you should stay away. That is inflaming what I wrote. What I said was, this blog, and more specifically this post, are written by a SAHM mom, to SAHMs. Yes, read up! Yes you can’t dictate who reads it, and that is the beauty of blogs. You suggested that not currently mothering is just as hard as currently mothering. That is going to stir reactions in a forum such as this. So later saying “stay out of my life” sounds harsh, and unnecessary. Mostly I feel defensive of Lindsay. What if I suggested to you having a miscarriage isn’t any harder than not yet having a child, or being divorced isn’t any harder than simply not yet being married. That’s simply not true, but one would have to experience both sides of that to truly understand. You have a perspective many readers don’t, but please try not to negate or disregard the perspective of other readers. Sharing your perspective could be a very valuable insight, but when you couple it with brash insults, the meaning gets lost.

          • Li August 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

            Thank you Hillary!

    • Tracy August 16, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      that is simply not accurate. moms who work outside the home outsource the diaper changing, feeding, cleaning up of messes, playing, hugging, answering of constant questions etc. etc. etc, to OTHER people while they are at the office – sure, SAHM get the ‘whole day’ to cook, do laundry etc. but as someone who has had a career, I can vouch that sitting in an office is a picnic compared to taking care of little ones full time. so it really just adds insult to injury when the harder job is considered ‘nothing’,

  17. Hope August 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    I’m a psychology grad student and recently read a book on neurobiology called “A General Theory of Love.” Among a throng of totally fascinating information about how the brain works during human bonding and attachment, the authors linked a lack of parental attunement and time with parents to the increase in drug addiction, violent crime, etc. They said (very carefully) that the science shows it is truly best for a parent to be the primary caretaker for his/her child, not daycare or even a nanny. (They also noted this is an extremely dangerous thing to suggest, and studies have been rejected for publication when they suggest this). So I think what you wrote, Lindsey, is very literally true–mothering really can change a nation. No matter what other kind of roles a person may have in life, if you are a parent, there will be nothing more profoundly significant in the grand scheme of the world than shaping a new person.

    I also love the poet Wendell Berry’s quote, “There is no work more worthy that the building of a home and a marriage.”

    I like the term “household manager” in response to the “what do you do?” question. One could also add “homeschool teacher” if that fits your bill.

    • rlbsmith August 9, 2012 at 6:05 am #

      Ooooh! “Household Manager” Thats a great one! My mother always used “domestic engineer” as her job title!

  18. Nina November 3, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve always had a problem with women who say they are “just a (stay at home) mom.”

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  1. Weekend reading | Happy Healthy Mama - August 25, 2012

    [...] Motherhood:  A Career?  from Passionate Homemaking.  A witty response to the question “What do you do?” and you’re a stay-at-home-mom.  Working moms can relate, too, because they do all of this and have a career.   [...]