Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why I Live in a Bubble

Probably others feel the same guilt I do about not expanding my horizons more, seeking out friends who are different from myself, even reading books on the same subjects from similar perspectives instead of something new. In general, being "closed minded," or else failing to evangelize. But every time I "put myself out there," I find myself coming right back to my "comfort zone" and simply confirmed in my previously held opinions. I've been told, "You can't live in a bubble," but you know what? I am and I like it here. Why?

Because no one understands me! Haha. That sounds absolutely pathetic and emo, but sadly I have found it to be true. I've tried local mothers' groups, bring-your-baby-to-the-library times, and striking up conversations with people I meet by chance. I have almost always come away feeling depressed, discouraged, or disillusioned. These sort of horizon-expanding social encounters have not been beneficial to me. It's emotionally draining for me, who am passionate about my vocation as wife and mother, to spend even twenty minutes in a conversation with stay-at-home mothers who are just killing time walking circles around the mall until they can get their two-year-olds into preschool so they can get back to having a life. That's a harsh description, and how I wish it were not an accurate one. But that is what I've encountered in my city, apart from the friends I've made through church. It's so sad; these women. They do truly want to be good mothers, but it's my opinion that they've been so conditioned by feminism that they are completely unable to be happy in that role. They believe they are effectively in jail while the children are small, and any distraction or respite is gladly welcomed. Conversations with them are laced with things like, "Anything to get out of the house," "Even the baby gets bored with me," "I go crazy when it snows and we're home." Anywhere but home, and home is where they chose to be! The martyr attitude gets tedious fast.

As depressing as the stay-at-home mothers are, you have to be on your guard with the working ones. They have a tendency to take any expression of contentment with my at-home status as a personal attack on their working status. I hear a lot of defense of how they have to work, how it must be nice to just take it easy all day, how they fit in "quality time," etc. They are rarely mean about it, but it's still not a pleasant conversation. I don't need to know your monthly mortgage or your husband's salary. I have to wonder about why so many working mothers feel the need to defend themselves/counter "attack" against a happy housewife. I honestly do not deliberately provoke them. I'm trying to make friends here. It's my opinion that they know in their mother hearts that mothers should be with their children, and it's guilt talking. This also naturally saddens me. But as I'm out and about during the day while they are generally at work, they aren't so menacing. The other possibility is that a working mother is more of a "true believer" feminist and simply has zero interest in or even disdain for me and my activities, simply because I am a housewife. This type wants to know what else I'm doing, besides domesticity and all that fluff, or else talk about her own professional success, in which, it must be confessed, I myself have zero interest. Thankfully, due to completely different habitats, this species is rarely encountered save at gatherings of extended family.

The fundamental and unbreachable difference is this: We have a completely different sense of our purpose in life. In the worldly perspective, motherhood is of little value and how can one be happy when one is not doing something valuable with one's time? My life choices and passion for housewifery are at best alien and at worst disgusting. There is little basis for friendship here, sadly. To me, my life as wife and mother is for the purpose of achieving the salvation of myself, my husband, and our children. This mission is all-consuming, and every little thing I do in service to my family contributes to that end. Therefore, every little thing attains great value, and this gives me great joy. I'm blessed to have a number of kindred spirits who share my sense of mission, who build me up in it and inspire me in their own living of their vocation. Those are the people with whom a true and satisfying friendship is possible, and such a wonderful blessing!


  1. Except the first month after Sly was born (when it was still looked on as "okay" and "normal" for me not to be working), I haven't - unfortunately - been a full and only stay-at-home mom. It started with 5 hours/week of a work-from-home job (which I can't even do in the daytime while he sleeps! I have to wait until Tom is home in the evening, and then I "go to work" upstairs, thus missing out on family time), and then I added out-of-the house tutoring, and then a third out-of-the house teaching thing. It's frustrating to have to run around like this, and find people (Tom, my parents, etc.) to watch Sly for me all the time. But I long as I just have one baby, and CAN make a little extra money for us, I really should. We can definitely use it.

    But it's always awkward when people I meet ask me - as they always do, first thing - "what do you do?" I have to say, "well, I'm a mom...I kinda stay home with my baby...but I also have some part-time teaching work I do." And as soon as I add that last part, I can see the approval in the person's eyes. But I keep wondering what it will be like, someday (I hope!) when my answer is simply, "I'm a stay-at-home mom."

  2. You know, Christine, I really have come to loathe the "What do you do?" question. It can't be answered adequately with what I actually do; the asker wants to know who I am, as narrowly defined as if by a form with a blank labeled, "Occupation". It's actually Marxist materialism if you think about it: people defining themselves solely by their exploitation of the means of production. Defining oneself by means of their relationship to other people ("I'm a mother," or even more extremely, by the title "Mrs.") is seen as inherently inferior and somehow less human. Ultimately, this path is nothing more than the valuation of things over people. Enormous implications from a seemingly innocuous question!

  3. Haha - wow. I never looked at it that way, but I think you're on to something.