Saturday, August 11, 2007

Career/Home -- Yin/Yang?

Mother and Child by Frederick Leighton,

I was thumbing through a book that a friend just gave to me. She handed it to me reluctantly and said that she didn't totally agree with the philosophy of the author, but thought I might enjoy it anyway. I've fast learned that I don't always have to agree with an author fully to gain some new insight or wisdom. Besides, I had read this author before and learned to "eat the meat and spit out the bones," so to speak. So as I was paging through Something More by Susan Ban Breathnach, I came to a short bit called "O Pioneer" which caught my attention. Here's the quote that really got me to thinking today.

"I find it fascinating the way the ancient Chinese belief of yin and yang -- the complementary opposite female and male energies inherent in the Universe -- runs as a pattern through every aspect of our lives. Career and home, dark and light, cold and heat, sorrow and joy, intimacy and solitude, aggression and passivity, Earth and Heaven. Push or stay put."

First off, let me say that I'm not into Chinese religions or beliefs, but I do see very clearly that there are definite opposites in the world. However, the one example -- career and home -- that this author gave as yin-yang, really struck a chord with me. I even read it again to see if I misunderstood something. Then I decided to go to the dictionary to see if I truly knew what the word "career" meant. Here's the definition from my American Heritage Dictionary:

Career: 1. A chosen pursuit; life work. 2. a path or course

After reading the definition, I thought about whether or not "career and home" are truly opposites. If "career" is my chosen pursuit and my life work, and if my pursuit is my home, then how can they be at opposite ends? Is Ms. Ban Breathnach not leaving room for the woman who chooses a career as wife, mother, homemaker? Or is "home" just a place where we land after we're done doing our career all day long? Is "home" merely the place where the laundry must be done and the dishes washed and put away? Perhaps she means that "home" is a place of rest and not work. Although it is true that home should be a place of rest and peace, I find that I am constantly working at "home" -- trying to make it more organized, more comfortable, more inviting, more peaceful, more beautiful along with creating a restful atmosphere, but that takes hard work and effort on my part. Why? Because it is my career. My rest comes in knowing that this is where God has called me.

If I have a career outside of my home, then when I arrive home from my career, is cooking a meal a mere chore or duty? And who is responsible for preparing the meal or making sure that everyone has clean socks and underwear in their drawers? I was discussing this topic with Hubby last night and he just recently heard about a new survey which stated that the number one conflict in marriage today is "shared housework," so I did a quick search online and found this article entitled "Housework is Key to a Happy Marriage." Quoting the article:
The Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to eighth out of nine on a list of factors that people associate with successful marriages, well behind "sharing household chores," "good housing," "adequate income," a "happy sexual relationship" and "faithfulness."

So what does this say about the chosen careers of women today? If she must go out and spend her days at a 40 hour per week job, I don't blame her for feeling abused when she is expected to take care of all the needs of her household as well. So I ask, who tends to the children? Who washes the clothes? Who scrubs the floors? Who is making "home" a place where the family is happily thriving and growing, and who is teaching the children about their responsibility to the family unit? Who is teaching the children how to cook a simple meal or do the laundry or keep a home clean? Who is listening to the problems of Little Ones or giving advice on dating? Is there anyone waiting for me at home anymore? In my dictionary the first and second choices defining "home" are: 1. A place where one lives; residence; habitation. 2. The physical structure of portion thereof within which ones lives, as a house or apartment. But I prefer the third and fourth definitions: 3. One's close family and one's self; a person's most personal relationships and possessions. 4. An environment or haven of shelter, of happiness and love. How can a home be such if there is no one there making a life work (career) of it? Does "home" just happen, or is it created by a loving human who makes it her purpose in life to make home a haven of shelter, of happiness and love for her family?

So what do you think? Is career opposite of home in your view? I have heard of many women who say they have given up their careers to stay at home with their children, but have you ever heard anyone say that their career choice is home & family? Is it even accepted as such in our culture today? Or dare we say it for fear of being considered out-of-date and old-fashioned or worse yet, shackled and chained to a medieval institution for the slavery of women?

"The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies."

~Excerpt from "Secrets of a Happy Home Life" by J.R. Miller 1894


  1. Jody, what a brilliant post - thought provoking for sure. Each of us as individuals within different social cultures will come up with different answers. Society is changing at such a rapid rate it is frightening and we live in an extremely fast paced world these days.
    I've opted to be a stay at home Mum for the benefit of my children - I feel they need my guidance as a Mother. Till they are all in high school, I am happy to 'study' ... LOL My point in saying this, is I am always very proud to say my career is being a "Mother" - can't think of a better career actually, or one that is so rewarding. (But, again this may just be the culture I grew up in, which is different to the next person).
    Depending on which way you take the words in a the book and I must admit that I took them in the same manner as you ..... mmmmmmmmmm they are not opposites.
    You should try writing to the person and asking their opinion ... would be an interesting answer that is for sure.

  2. Amen!! Thank you Jody! Such words are encouraging to hear. Next week I start back to my sophmore year of college and I must prepare myself to face the questions. You know, the questions like, "what do you want to do with your life?" or "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" I cannot tell you many times people are stumped at my answer of wife and mother. As a young wife and mother to- be- one-day (hopefully), the preasure is constant to "find something other than the home" to identify my life as significant. Too bad. My convictions are not changingfor the culture.
    Still, it is so refeashing to hear the call of the wife and mother being hailed for what it is- honorable!
    Thanks to all of the mothers who are love'n it!!

  3. I just found your blog and I love it. Like the music too.
    Anyhow, I have done both - career outside the home, career inside the home and outside career at home!
    I like the flexibility of the latter, but it can be difficult to draw lines between in-home career and at-home career. Hope that makes sense. I write, so I have a home office now.

  4. Jody,
    ~This could not have come at a better time. Encouraging and reassuring. Especially since dh and I only have one son at home now, it seems I am still as busy! lol

    Speaking of housecleaning, what am I doing on the computer? I need to clean!! ;)

    Love the beautiful music. very soothing with my cuppa coffee.


  5. Dear Lady as a 25 year career Home maker, I have heard it all. I have been demised by the best of them or should I say worst. In my blog I post often about the savings of career homemaking monetarily. The refuge amidst the storms of this world can be a saving grace of unparalleled value.
    Great post. You know us old timers have a freedom that our skill set offers us. We do not have to be grafted into a culture that is at each other throats. We have untold benefits. How many honorable men just wish they could provide an income that a wife could be a chosen career homemaker. Few wives can over come the temptation to buy into the chaos of $$$$ and false esteem. If one choses it is not sin or crime but it is at high cost.

  6. Thank you for your comments Sandie. I was raised with a stepmom that worked part-time and she also did accounting from home. I do believe that even our ancient cultures stressed the importance of a woman working in the home, tending to children, and providing for the needs of her household.

    Beauty of the Lord, thanks for your affirmation that homemaking is still highly regarded even by the young women coming up! Refreshing!

    Janet, I'm glad you stopped in and I think you are wise to try to work from your home. Still, I'm sure it's a tricky balance.

    Donetta, I too, am in my 26th year as a homemaker. I'm glad God put me here and I'm still trying to get it right and do it better.


  7. Okay I feel so strongly and have soo much to say about this, I can not get the words out. When I can I will write you xoxoxo Clarice

  8. Hi Jody
    I wrote a very long comment on this topic and then it just wouldn't publish...could it be the Lord wanting me to be more succinct???

    Anyway, I feel that homemaking is a very legitimate career/vocation. The skills we use in homemaking are very similar to the ones we would need for any kind of high flying career or vocation. However, because our work is not paid work it receives little recognition in our heavily commercialised culture. We increasingly seem to be defined by how much we earn and therefore how much we can buy. Therefore, few of us choose full-time homemaking because a. we feel we cannot afford to do it (frugality not being seen as a modern virtue) b. it holds little status...homemakers in the media are often portrayed as oppressed doormats *or* terrible gold diggers bleeding our men dry...we just can't win, can we???

    However, I firmly believe that we need to see a community of people fully committed to home-life, marriage and children...and this community needs to be made up from people of all walks of life. I also think that a good home-life *helps* form a positive and well functioning society.

    Can you believe this is my shorter comment? LOL!

  9. Clarice, I'll be awaiting your reply to this post either here or in my inbox. Thanks for stopping in.

    Natalie, thank you for saying so eloquently what I'm thinking too. I wish I could have read your long post, but this will do. I suspect we're on the "same page" concerning a homemaking career. Perhaps you could write up your thoughts (again) at Isabella in the 21st Century?



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