Think back to a time before all of the rush, rush, rush when nice middle class ladies had maids and their children were better to be seen and not heard. Dad was a professional and many times didn’t make it home from work until after the children were in bed, at which time, he would eat a hot meal with his wife. Mom’s main role was as a “housewife” which meant – weekly Bridge, weekly beauty shop appointments, a skinny waist, and high heels. Additionally, mom’s other main role was as a wife to her husband – she supported his career and their adult friendships by entertaining in socially acceptable intervals, kept up her appearance for him, and traveled with him, as needed. She also volunteered in the community and at her church. Her role as mother was third in priority to these things. Everyone generally came together on Sunday for church and family dinner.
Fast forward to our current daily lives. Mom’s priorities are as follows – minder of children (nanny, chauffer, homework teacher, children’s social life calendar scheduler and organizer, etc.), bread-winner and/or career-woman, and, lastly, tired ole partner to her husband. The priority is work and “happy” children who are endlessly scheduled. All possible opportunities must be maximized in order to have great kids who end up as “happy” adults. Nothing can be skipped. Except mom. Mom is left out. And, marriage. Marriage is left out. And faith. Faith is left out.
Besides the maid, what is the difference in these two scenarios? Some might say that the maid is THE difference and the reason that the two are radically different. I would argue that the maid is simply a by-product of the priority. In our mother’s and grandmother’s generations, having “help” was a priority because the adults, rather than the children, were the focus of life. Research on time spent with children reveals that women spend more time with their children now than they did in 1965. Is this surprising? Often these days, our marriage, our friendships, and our faith are given the crumbs because we, as women, are so tired from shuttling kids, homeworking kids, our own work, and trying to keep up with the Joneses that we can’t even begin to think about the valuable adult relationships in our lives.
Do I think that we should go back to a time when kids are “seen and not heard?” No. That would be ridiculous. For one thing, I enjoy my children too much to do that. And, most of the people that I know do also. However, I do think that children and their activities should be given a lower priority than our own adult relationships, including our relationship with Christ. When you have no time or energy to give to your faith, your husband or to your friendships, something is unhealthily out of balance.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Why don’t we all just tell the kids to go outside and not come back until the lights come on? Then we can get together and play Bridge. Oh, wait, no one plays Bridge anymore. We can play Bunko and drink sweet tea. And when the husbands get home, we can send the kids to bed and focus on our marriage. Little Jimmy can’t go to football practice. Tough. Little Sara has to miss dance tonight. Too bad. Mommy needs some adult time!