Emily and Victoria set the record straight on why staying home is all about the kids. And why it’s not.
To read more about this series and find Victoria and Emily’s other conversations, click here.
Victoria: Short answer: no. My daughter is not the center of my life.
But I want to dig into the question a little bit.
Why is it shameful to focus our energy on our kids? Our society is ALL about kids…in the abstract. When there’s a political issue that involves kids, or a crime against kids, there’s always this uproar. “But the children!” And rightly so, don’t get me wrong. But the minute someone starts sacrificing for her child in the day-to-day, staying home with the child, enjoying all those “crappy days,” people are like
“We must improve education for our kids!” they cry. And then they scoff at moms who shorten their work hours to support their kids’ education. “We must get our kids outside more!” And then they are confused when a mom stays home and gets her kids to the park during the day. “We must get our kids eating better!” And now it’s almost taboo to talk about a mom putting the work in to make a healthy dinner.
And I can’t help but to wonder: they realize those are the same kids, right? The ones they’re advocating for and the ones a mom stays home for? Same kids. Same exact kids.
Emily: And if we really want to talk about the children, let’s really think about the rise in suicides, depression, gun violence, sexual deviance and drug use in our youth. We scream for gun control or sex education, but leave the root issues unaddressed, essentially treating cancer with a placebo and then being surprised the cancer persists.
Let’s start talking more honestly: about the issue of fatherlessness and its impact, the toll that balancing a full-time job and homemaking actually takes on women, and the societal costs when homes are devoid of love or sacrifice. Why are we surprised when children exhibit horrific behavior when they didn’t know love at home first? Why don’t we as a society praise the men and women who choose to make great sacrifices to put their children first?
But then, is the solution to make my kids the center of my life?
During certain periods of their life, absolutely yes. As newborns, my children were completely dependent on me for absolutely everything. I literally had to rearrange my life so that I could focus on keeping them alive. But that is a relatively short season in the span of my life.
As soon as my children are capable, I begin to teach them independence. My role as mother is to work myself out of a job so to speak, to help my kids become functional, rational, faithful creatures entirely on their own. Staying home with my kids puts me in the perfect position to identify when and how that process should unfold. But if my children were the center of my life, I would be doing a terrible job as their mother rather than simply a disservice to myself.
Because making my kids the center of my life would produce just as many, though different, behavioral problems in them as would my being a negligent parent. I don’t stay home because my kids are the most important people in my universe. I stay home because I’m the person God has called to teach, love and guide them to become who he made them to be.
Victoria: YES. Yes yes yes. The center of our lives is Christ, just as the center of our children’s lives should be CHRIST. The only true positive with which we should fill our lives is our relationship with Christ and the vocation he has for us.
Because, let’s be real, my baby’s kinda boring. And she thrives on that. She lives the same tiny little rotation (eat, play, sleep) over and over and over again. It can be hard sometimes to stay focused on her because, well, she’s about as excited about unraveling the toilet paper as I was the morning of my wedding.
And when she’s not boring, she’s chaos. I’m literally straining the boiling water from the noodles (because mac n cheese is what flies as gourmet around here) just as she grabs onto my jeans and screams(that fire engine siren noise that she’s mastered) and what’s more, my phone is ringing, the dishes are overflowing out of the sink, and the garbage disposal is stuck.
There’s got to be more to life than that. Thank goodness, there is more to life than that.
Because I’m not in this situation because the little rage machine is the pinnacle of my life. I’m in this situation because Christ has called me to it.
Emily: Yes! And we can totally get lost in the monotony of our children’s lives and daily schedules as we figure out this motherhood thing.
It all comes down to remembering what comes first. Kind of like that old song we used to tease each other with on the playground: first comes love (aka God), then comes marriage, then comes the baby. It’s a daily fight for balance. Swing the pendulum too far one way and we lose who we are as unique individuals with specific gifts and talents our husbands and children need. Swing it too far the other way and we can hold on to who we are so tightly that our husbands and children lose who they are in our wake.
It’s all about everything in its proper order: God -> Marriage -> kids.
So I guess what we’re saying is, if our kids – or ourselves – ever become the center of our lives, please send help!