By Danelle Carvell
I often say that I was born in the wrong era. The 1940's and 50's seemed a simpler more pleasant time to be alive. I was born in the sixties, so I didn't get to experience those decades, but I do love to watch TV shows and movies that portray that time in history. Even the 1930's, a decade associated with The Great Depression, seems a time that I would enjoy more than the rushed and complicated lifestyle of 2010.
The older I get, the more I want to embrace simplicity. I find myself throwing things out and ridding myself of clutter. I'm more satisfied with a simple wardrobe, simple furniture, and simple ways of decorating my home. I'm learning that if I keep those things simple, I'll have more time for the people in my life. Maybe the reason those early decades seem so appealing is because people who lived in the 40's and 50's had fewer distractions that kept them from focusing on what's important--God and family.
Ask someone what the most important part of life is and you'll probably get answers like God, family, friends, etc. But the same people who give those answers often live lives that don't reflect their values. If they really loved God and family, wouldn't they create a lifestyle that allowed time for those things? Wouldn't they set selfishness and materialism aside and choose a simple way of life that gives them everything they need without unnecessary stress and financial pressure?
We seem to have lost our ability to live simply. Even newlyweds aren't satisfied with a simple home anymore. They choose opulent homes that require two incomes to maintain. Then when the children come, Mom is forced to look for replacement care for her children. She must go to work to help pay for the big house. Perhaps if she and her husband had chosen a simpler way of life, she could stay at home and be a mom instead of a breadwinner. Materialism pushes God and family from our lives.
In a post feminist era, my opinion isn't always popular. Yet I know examples of women who wouldn't have to work yet they choose a career over caring for their children. They try being home with baby for a while and then decide that it's not for them. They can't handle the mundane tasks and the unglamorous role of being stuck at home with their own children. Selfishness pushes God and family from our lives.
Materialism and selfishness are two distractions that weren't so prevalent among women in the early decades of the 1900's. Those women were more satisfied with simple things--a simple home, a simple lifestyle, and simply being a mom. Then along came the feminist movement to convince women that they deserve more than a mundane life of motherhood. Feminists convinced women to forget what's at home and make a mark on the world. They told us we need to control our environment and control our marketability so we can be independent. The feminist movement led women out of their homes, away from their children and into the workplace. Feminism pushes God and family from our lives.
I'm not saying that no woman should work outside the home. I'm saying that the highest calling for a wife is to be a helpmate to her husband, and the highest calling for a mother is to care for her children. I know there are innocent examples of women who have no choice but to leave their children in day care so they can go to work and make money. But there are also examples of young mothers who work due to their own selfishness, materialism and feminist beliefs. They're not satisfied with a simple life of marriage and motherhood even when their husbands encourage them to stay home.
Today, women feel a tremendous amount of pressure to justify being at home for their families. "How can you afford to stay at home and not work?" is a question people boldly ask. But no woman has to justify filling the role God created her to fill as a wife or mother. She doesn't have to justify that to anyone, not even in a bad economy. If a husband or family chooses for a wife or mother to be at home instead of the workplace, and if they're not living above the financial means of one income, then I believe God will bless that decision. They don't need society's blessings.
Husbands might be surprised at how little money their working wives are actually making when they have children in daycare. The link at the top of this page tells a story about the frustrations of young working mothers. Be sure to check it out and read the comments underneath. It's a story that many women are living out each day. In the book 1/2 Price Living, one couple named Suzie and Ben discovered that by working full time with one child in daycare, Suzie was only making seventeen dollars a month.
"The main culprit for the financial failure of a second income is a tax system that savagely penalizes second incomes," the book claims. A higher tax bracket, the cost of gas and wear and tear on her vehicle, the cost of daycare, buying lunch at work, spending more on a professional appearance (wardrobe, manicures, hairstyles), spending money on convenience food because she has no time to cook, spending money on guilt gifts because she can't give her children enough time, and just spending money unnecessarily because she has extra money.
All the above things must be subtracted from her income to discover her true income. Some working moms who think they're making 15 dollars an hour are actually making less than five dollars an hour. They don't realize that they could stay home and save that much from their husband's income and be no worse off. I save eighty to one hundred dollars a week just by clipping coupons and searching for bargains. That's like earning eighty dollars a week. I also find other ways to make and save money at home and I see no difference in our standard of living compared to when I was working full time outside the home. It's a simple answer, but who sits down and does the math?
I guess we can't do anything simply. We can't even simply drive. We have to be chatting on a cell phone or texting while driving. I truly can't believe that talking on a phone while driving is even legal. The task takes one hand off the wheel and your mind off the road. I wonder how many lives have been cut short all because someone couldn't wait to make or receive a phone call. Driving is serious business. One wrong move could kill someone. And all it takes is a second to make that wrong move. Is a phone conversation worth the risk of killing someone or being killed?
If we want to simplify our lives, we need to get rid of the distractions that are cluttering our lives. Technology is good, but not when it's so much a part of our lives that we can't focus on daily tasks or give people our full attention. Selfishness, materialism, feminism, and technology are just some of the clutter we've allowed to overtake us. We need to get back to the basics of life: caring for our children, respecting and loving our husbands, and most importantly seeking God for strength. Women have lost their identity in a self-absorbed, materialistic culture polluted with feminist ideas. I don't like the culture I live in, but I don't have to conform to it. I choose to live a life of simplicity:God first, family second, my own self-interests a distant third. That's the life we were meant to live as wives and mothers. And only we can reclaim it.