I did at one point work outside the home full-time (more than full-time,really) and when I first started to have some uneasiness about this and to worry about whether this was the right choice, the decision to transition home was not an easy one for my husband and I to make. We feel firmly convinced that this is the right and Biblical way to order our lives, and I have to admit that I am a much happier person now than I was when I worked in an outside office 50+ hours per week giving the bulk of my time and energy to someone other than my family. I think I'm now a better wife, a better follower of Christ, and I feel like I spend my days doing more that is of lasting use than I did in prior years.
I'm sure anyone reading this is not wholly astounded to learn that there are those who would look at my life and not see it as I do. While some folks have been truly encouraging to me, others most definitely are not. What truly stings in all of this is that some of the critics proclaim themselves Christian. I know that no two people have a Christian walk that looks the same, and while I stand up for my beliefs, I would not want to personally belittle married women who work outside the home. In some cases, I may not agree with someone's choice and I may, with people I know well enough, try to engage them in a discussion one on one, but that does not mean that they are a lesser grade of person and I have no right to treat them as such. In addition, there are some circumstances under which women may have to, in addition to keeping the home, work outside the home on at least a part-time or temporary basis.
One of the criticisms that I heard over and over again was that I must be a "Stepford Wife". I hadn't seen the movie, but I've heard this phrase often enough to know that it's meant to denigrate stay at home wives. So - I went on a little research expedition.
It turns out the the Stepford Wives are a group of zombie-like, doormat wives who cater to their husbands' every whim. The docile women in the movie turn out to be lifelike robots.
Pretty chilling stuff - and certainly not like my life. I may be a wife who seeks to model the type of marriage that the Bible instructs us to have. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I stumble like the imperfect human that I am. However, submission to one's husband in marriage and being a keeper of the family home is not the same thing as thoughtless conformity. My husband is no abusive tyrant, he is a man who values my opinion and cherishes me. And I certainly have not lost free will or the ability to formulate a thought. Femininity is not a synonym for blind subjugation.
Even though I learned all kinds of homemaking skills from my family, I still find keeping the house far from mindless. Every day, I feel like I'm learning something new and the challenge of making the house feel like a haven keeps my mind sharp. The insinuation that a wife at home is somehow stunted in her development or lacking in intellect upsets me because this is a modern feminist notion that simply is not true.
While I found The Stepford Wives interesting, it's impossible to miss the message of the movie. Wives in the home are dumb robots while women who work outside have full lives. A pretty direct jab at the stay at home wife's beliefs and lifestyle, isn't it? It's not the first time popular media has attacked traditional ways of life and I'm sure it won't be the last, but I do wish the popular thinking of our time was not so dominated by these ideas. It's actually gotten to the point that not only women embrace feminism, but I have heard plenty of men state that they would never want to marry a "Stepford wife".
I knew plenty of highly intelligent women working outside the home and now that I am not chained to a desk for hours on end, I have had the opportunity to meet many other very intelligent, well-read ladies. The main difference I see is that the ones who are staying at home often seem more content than the ones working outside. They also seem to spend more time educating themselves on topics of their own interest and those of their family rather than working for the vision of some outside entity.
In fact, when I think about it, I have to wonder which is the more thoughtful behavior - seeing what the culture of the world does to families and trying to think of ways to confront it or simply accepting what the media feeds us about women in the workplace?