A Reflection from A Guilty Mom Who Has Help
A nanny. A housekeeper. A gardener/yard person. A cook. Your “staff” may have multiple roles and/or have different names. But they all serve a similar purpose: you need help managing your life.
That phrase alone can conjure up different emotions for you. Some of you may easily embrace the idea of needing help; others of us struggle to embrace that need. Why? Because we are people who are highly competent and capable and CAN do it all, right? We run businesses, right? We manage people and finances and client relationships and maybe travel and juggle lots. But we still need help. Especially at home. At least I do.
So even if you come to terms and embrace the idea that you need help with life and family and kids and cleaning and can come to think of that as managing another business (with staff), you may have friends or family who don’t agree or from whom you feel judgment.
We have lived in three different cities in our married life and our business life. In one city, everyone I knew had help—people who wanted to work were easy to find and there wasn’t social stigma about having household help. But then we moved to our current smaller city. I walked into it with two children and a full-plus-time job and expected to find all the same help I had before. They weren’t here. Not only that, I quickly got the vibe that that was for the rich and famous. Many moms didn’t work outside the home and I heard more than one time how cleaning their homes and having everything well-organized for their husband when he came home was how they contributed and served their family. Yikes. Did that mean I wasn’t serving my husband and family, or worse, the Lord? Was I not being a good steward? Was I a failure because I truly couldn’t do it all on my own?
No. To all that guilt-speak and more! My journey was different than some of my friends’! And neither journey was/is “better or worse”. It’s just different.
When our second child was born, a friend shared a book with me: A Housekeeper is Cheaper Than a Divorce by Kathy Fitzgerald Sherman. I confess I never read the entire thing, but the premise struck a cord that I have shared with women for the last 17 years: it’s okay to need and have help. Having help to clean or cook or iron or help with kids and laundry and driving is okay and does not mean that you are not capable of doing all those things. It does not mean that if you have some or all that help you are somehow an inferior wife, mother and Christian steward. It means you need help. And that’s an okay place to be. Some of you will meet those needs with family help; some of you will pay for outside help. Either way, it does not make you a bad mom or wife.
We chose for me to start a company and work full-plus-time and travel domestically and internationally for weeks at a time for many years. And we chose to have five children and we chose for my husband to work full-time also. While the management and oversight of our home and family falls primarily to me, we share the day-to-day jobs. AND we have help. For both of us!
What we found is that helpers are valuable to the smooth running of our household and I honestly am a better mom and wife when I have some help with toilets and dust. Even in the stretches when we have had to make financial choices, the helpers were the last to be cut from the budget. And the reality is that those individuals who have come and gone from our home and our lives have become part of our family. We have been co-laborers in our home and we have been able to love them and get to know their families as well as them knowing ours.
Do I still have friends who struggle with guilt at having a housekeeper come clean once/month? Yes. Do they possibly think I’m a little decadent because I have someone help me several times a week? Maybe….if they actually were staring at my life and evaluating it. And that’s another key point. People are not evaluating you and your choices nearly as much as you might think they are. And if they are, that’s not your issue.
The choices you make for your family are between you and your husband and God.
Throughout scripture, we see God commending both the workers and the employers; we see parables about paying fair wages to people who help us and us bearing a responsibility for them just as you would your employees in your professional company. Throughout the Epistles, Paul commends his helpers at the end of every letter to the churches and the Romans. These helpers were important to the work of God and the literal Word of God—Paul needed help carrying his letters to the churches (and that’s how we have Romans and Corinthians and Galatians, etc..!).
If you grew up in a Christian household, you know every young girl was encouraged to be a “Proverbs 31” woman some day. But let’s talk about that woman. She is an entrepreneur; she works day and night; she is smart; she is innovative; she dresses well and takes care of herself and her family’s needs; her husband adores her; she needs and has helpers and she oversees them and cares for them too. Does that mean that you aren’t a Proverbs 31 woman if you don’t have a paying job outside the home? No way. It means, whatever our calling is from the Lord as women, we do it full on and well—in and out of the home. And if we have help executing it all—then we do that for God’s glory and as His stewards.
Years ago I learned the practice of “owning” the need for help—I think of it as part of my sanctification by the Holy Spirit as He’s moved me one degree at a time away from my pride and independence and guilt speak, and one degree at a time toward my dependence on Him and understanding that His call and journey to me is for me (not anyone else’s). I need help. I can’t do it all. It is okay to have support staff to do it all as well as I want to.
I’m grateful for a husband who shares a lot of the household and family work and who has been supportive of us having outside help as we’ve needed it—but even his support didn’t always alleviate the guilt; only the Holy Spirit can do that for me. Mostly the journey is about keeping my eyes fixed on the Father; not looking to the right or the left and comparing what you think someone else is doing or capable of doing. Do what He has called you to do.
If you need and have staff, be an above reproach household manager. Teach your children to respect and be grateful for those who help because as I’ve tried to teach ours - they are here to help me, not my kids (the kids have all had to clean toilets and do their laundry and sweep and dust). And don’t allow the lies from Satan to sneak in and tell you that you are inferior because you need help or that others do it better, or you are spoiled or not capable of doing what God has called you to; or that you aren’t a good wife and mom. Be where God has you today and do it well. Stay fixed. Press on/in. More to come!
Editor’s Note: If you liked this piece from Brittany, we encourage you to check out her other FDE blogs as well —
Thanks to Seb Kamel and Unsplash for the cover photo