Thursday, April 9, 2009

The “Ideal” I Strive for in Keeping House – Why I do This Part I

So what’s the big deal? Why do I find it so important that I stay home with my daughter, and keep the home for my husband? (Keeping the home will be covered in Part II)

The main thing for our family right now is caring for the baby as a stay at home mom. Holding the baby, putting her down for naps, wiping her bottom after a poop, teaching her how to roll a ball and play with blocks, giving her baths, changing her clothes when they get dirty, nourishing her – these are all things that someone must do for a young child. And it is a short, certainly not comprehensive list. It is my not-so-humble opinion that no one besides a child’s own mother is going to do any of these tasks with as much care, love, and fondness as she can.

Certainly, day cares and babysitters provide adequate care. The children are fed, changed, wiped. Maybe even with love. I’ve been a babysitter before, and really enjoyed taking care of those children, but absolutely nothing can compare to the kind of love that I have for my daughter. It’s just a different kind of love. The child the mother has carried for 9 months and painstakingly gave birth to is much more special to her than any other child could be. I also feel that adoptive parents can and do love the same way or greater than birth parents – the adoption process I understand is a grueling task to go through. I’m not saying a child put in day care or with a sitter isn’t getting adequate or even good care – I’m just saying that absolutely Mom is going to do a much better job.

For me and my husband, we choose for my daughter to have the best care, all the time, and that is by being in the care of her mother or father. Sure, sometimes we leave her with a sitter for an evening, but the majority of her time is spent with her parents.

Aside from just the basics of child care, I think another big job a stay at home mom has is child training. Having Mom at home ensures the child can receive timely discipline when necessary, rather than allowing bad behavior to slide and slowly escalate. If Mom worked all day, and the day care ignored inappropriate behaviors, then Mom or Dad is the “bad guy” when she has to discipline them when she picks them up, and perhaps to avoid feeling as though they’re disciplining their children all the time, they avoid discipline altogether. If mom is with the child throughout the day, one of her roles will be disciplinarian, but she will also be able to provide for her children in other ways, so since she has more time with her child, she can be disciplinarian, cook, playmate, teacher, and so she will feel less guilt for spending most of her time disciplining, since that will just be a small part of her job as stay at home mom.

Another big part of child training is the fact that children learn by watching what those closest to her and around her do the most. I take my daughter with me most places I go, and she is learning by watching me interact with the people we come in contact with. She learns by watching how I spend my time even while we’re at home. She learns from me by watching how I speak to her dad – facial expressions, voice tones, volume. Beyond just the basics of everyday life, she is also watching her parents as they live out their faith. She’s learning by watching and imitating the things we do. This fact of how she learns is both great and intimidating. The main thing I must accomplish in order to teach her how to be a responsible adult is to demonstrate the desirable behaviors to her. Whoa! What a responsibility! Imparting a value system through example sounds like a fulltime job in itself, and is a powerful reason for the parents to be the ones caring for the child, so that they can be sure their values and faith system is being passed on to their children.

Our family has decided that the benefits of me being a stay at home mom to care for and discipline and be an example for our daughter is absolutely worth it to our family.