….to stay at home with my children."
I was standing in the line of a grocery store in Kansas. I had just spent almost two hours shopping with my three little children, because I had a pile of coupons, a week of meals to make and $35 to spend. It was the early 90's. Even with lower grocery prices, it wasn't a lot of money.
I STARED in disbelief. I couldn't believe her guilt would cause her to speak with such sarcastic false humility without knowing my circumstances.
In a glance I noticed her heavily jeweled, manicured fingers, her expensive, matching (AND minus baby throw-up) clothing, her unscuffed high heels, nylons, her makeup, her purse. I took it all in. She might "need" to work, but I knew she spent a lot of money, if that one heavily accessorized outfit was any indication of her spending habits. She looked beautiful, but she wasn't happy.
I didn't want to blab my husband's salary out, but he was a teacher in a private Christian school and we were paying 1/4 of our salary to student loans. I was pretty sure our monthly salary was easily what they made in a week.
I polished my own fingernails.
My husband trimmed my hair and I had only 1 perm in 10 years. (for the fashion of this decade, this was a sacrifice.)
I wore only hand-me downs and thrift store items.
I had never purchased anything new for my kids to wear at this point in my life.
I bought nylons once a year and washed them by hand to make them last.
I used the cheapest make-up and hair products I could find.
I sewed some of my kids' clothes from $1 a yard fabric.
I don't remember my exact words, but after processing the absurdity of her speculation, I let her know it was a spiritual decision to stay at home, not a financial one. I let her know we were choosing to raise our kids according to the Bible.
The cashier was a little more honest as she entered the conversation about my SAHM status.
"I don't stay at home with my kids, cuz I couldn't stand to. I mean, I love my kids, but they drive me crazy. When they're home at the holidays, I can hardly wait until they go back to school. But, you're a much more patient person, that's good that you stay at home with your kids. You're such a good mom."
I didn't stay at home because I was patient, either, although I appreciated her kind comment.
I have always been a Stay At Home Mom because I believe the Bible teaches it.
As a new believer, 18 and in college, I was searching for all those big answers in life. I remember rejoicing to discover that the Bible covered topics such as marriage, parenting, worrying, working and church structure. I diligently searched for answers, and the Lord graciously had already supplied them. It gave me guidance for decisions concerning my future.
"The aged women ... teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
As much as that woman's comment went deep into my soul, I wasn't angered, I was offended, I wasn't defensive. I was sad for her.
I also stay at home because I love my kids and want to be with them.
All those sacrifices were, and continue to be, worth it. I NEVER look back and think about what I couldn’t buy, the plain food we ate, or the inexpensive clothing we wore. The Lord provided sufficiently and we were joyously happy in the Lord's work and content with what He had provided.
I look back and cherish holding those babies. I remember staring in their precious little faces, trying to imprint it on my mind and heart, knowing that each day they changed and grew.
I cherish being the one to see every first in their life.
I cherish the sweet memoring of playing with them, sleeping in tents with them, and teaching them them to craft, to cook, to sew, to paint, to create, to read, to garden, to ride a bike, jump rope, do a cartwheel, play games, cut with scissors...
I hugged and kissed them every day. I looked into their eyes. I talked to them about the Savior. I read the Bible to them. I read books to them.
I cherished them.
Now, I cherish the memories when they were young and sometimes weep that those busy years are now fleeting memories. When I see a young mom with all her little ones filling up her grocery cart, I am a little wistfully jealous. I miss those years, because I loved being with all my children.
Today, I wonder about that jeweled woman, who spoke with bitter jealousy, and what memories she revisits.
Somehow, I think she also looks back on her life and weeps.
But, my heart tells me, her tears are tears of regret.
"Lord, I just pray for this dear woman who impacted my life and heart so many years ago. I long for her to have peace and joy and slavation. I ask you to comfort her, to hear her cries and answer her prayers. Bless her, Lord. Amen."
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