"Are you working?"
It shouldn't, but the question still makes me feel uncomfortable. Nice, well meaning people ask me this all the time, and it seems to be part of the "getting to know you" process. Still, as common as the question is, I don't always know how to respond. Answering, a flat "no" seems dismissive and rude. Plus, I do work -- just not in the way they mean. Wrong or right, I feel the need to justify myself. But how? What can be said?
I could tell them I make dinner for my husband, clean the apartment, do the laundry, and, well, I'm pregnant, so I take naps, and I will be feeding a baby and changing diapers in a few months... but then, other women do all that and more. A lot of wives are balancing responsibilities at home and at work. When I think about that, I shrink a little inside, and any answer I could give seems insufficient.
Yet, I needn't feel inadequate. Zachary and I agree that we have different roles in our little family, and both sets of responsibilities are equally important. We believe that the family works better when there is one "bread winner" and one "bread baker" -- not that other members of the family can't bake. Right, Dad? :)
My schedule is flexible and gives way to Zachary's more rigid one, and this allows us the maximum time possible to be together, to communicate, and to build our relationship as husband and wife. For right now at least, I do the majority of the household chores while Zachary is at work, so our home can be a place of rejuvenation and peace when he returns. Dividing our duties in this way will hopefully allow our home to be a haven of rest, play, and productivity for years to come.
So, I am happy with our decision, and I take great joy in my role of homemaker. Still, in a world of predominately two income households, the temptation to squirm at the "Are you working? question is still there.
Encouragement can come from many sources, and, over the last few weeks, I have been uplifted many times by a little book I am keeping on my bedside table. Queen of the Home, compiled and edited by Jennifer M. McBride, was one of my Christmas presents, and I wish every Christian wife had the privilege of reading this special volume of essays, poetry, and other quotes.
The wisdom shared concerning the honor, nobility, and power of Biblical womanhood builds me up and encourages me in my resolve to be a blessing to my husband. The world says I would bless him more by bringing in a second income, but Queen of the Home reminds me that a wife and mother is replaceable in the job market but irreplaceable to her husband and children.
John Angell James, one of the authors quoted in the book, put it this way in 1853:
"The Bible gives her place of majesty and dignity in the domestic circle -- the heart of her husband and the heart of her family. It is the female supremacy of that domain, where love, tenderness, refinement, thought and tender feeling preside. It is the privilege of making her husband happy and honored, and her sons and daughters the ornaments of human society. It is the sphere of piety, prudence, diligence, in the domestic station, and a holy and devout life. It is the sphere that was occupied by Hannah, the mother of Samuel; by Elizabeth, the mother of John; by Eunice, the mother of Timothy; and by Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is the respect and esteem of mankind."
Just as I would not gulp down a soothingly delicious, hot mug of tea, I am not in any hurry to rush through Queen of the Home. I am reading it one quote or essay at a time and savoring the sips of wisdom within. I know it will be a book I return to many times as my household duties claim more of my energies.
There are so many other things I wish I could say about this little book, but I can't even begin to do it justice. Nothing can replace actually reading it. I strongly encourage girls and women young and old to find this book and benefit from the godly wisdom Jennifer M. McBride has compiled for our edification.
You can buy the book HERE.