"Love One Another!" 16/2010 → Christian family
One day my son came home from school and told me about something he had read in a free newspaper that someone had thrust into his hand at the bus stop.
It concerned an article in which the author trumpeted the disappearance in Polish society of the “stereotype” of the Polish mother, who devotes herself exclusively to her children and home. Just as I was wondering how to respond to this, my son expressed his outrage. “How dare they!” he said. “What kind of life would it be, if Mom had to go to work and couldn’t take care of us?”
His response heartened me considerably. From the very beginning of our married life, I had always favored the idea of my wife being a full-time mom and mistress of the house. I always tried to value her efforts and labors. I tried to sweeten her at times humdrum life. I tried to mitigate the conflicts that always arise when a couple rears a family. I tried to relieve my wife of a portion of her duties. I also had to provide for the whole family, and this was not easy either. I often had to get up at six in the morning and come home at midnight. But the knowledge that I was returning to a real home, to a safe haven immersed in love, always gave me the necessary strength to soldier on.
Needless to say, our family had had its ups and downs. There were conflicts, and problems, and doubts. At times I asked myself, “Why put up with it? Maybe it would be better if my wife went to work. Things would be much easier for me, and our children would get by somehow, allowed to run wild, like most of their friends.” My wife also had her doubts. Why was she wasting her life sitting at home with two degrees and a doctorate? Fortunately, we had friends who set us positive examples of successful motherhood. Children raised at home by their mothers, and not at the daycare, fared distinctly better in the school environment and later in advanced studies. On the other hand, I watched my female colleagues at work, bickering with the management, overwrought, exhausted, crying, and complaining – and then returning to work almost immediately after having their baby. Seeing these “professional careers” pursued at the cost of children neglected and betrayed (yes, betrayed! and eventually they grow up to understand this), I came to realize we had made the right choice. And now we had received the highest appraisal: our children had come to notice the importance of what we were doing for them.
Holy Scripture teaches that love is the highest good (1 Cor 13: 13). It also teaches that we must love in deed and not in word or speech (1 Jn 3: 18). Parental love is the most fundamental and natural love a person can experience. It consists in much more than changing diapers and preparing soup; and it certainly consists in more than hiring a babysitter and pursuing a professional career. In time our children will give us their appraisal, and it will not depend on our professional achievements. The mother who was simply present to her children, who helped them to understand the world around them, will win far greater gratitude from her children than one who, working professionally, is able to provide her eighteen-year-old child with a house and a car.