Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Amish and the value they place on motherhood

I have a few young mothers of preschoolers on my mind today. Sometimes they act like they have to apologize for staying home and not being out in the “work force”.  Some are aspiring authors, who ask me how I find time to write. When I tell them I homeschooled my four kids for over 20 years and it was the most important and fulfilling job I ever had, they don’t believe me. So, knowing these women are Amish enthusiastic, I want to tell share this story.

When I was up in Smicksburg a few weeks ago, one of the restaurants asked if I knew of a good cook, since they need summer help. I thought immediately of Amish women, especially some that are trying to make ends meet.  I went to one family and asked if their teenage daughter would be interested, and they said no. They said maybe some “liberal” Amish would let their daughters be exposed to the “world” but not them.

So I stood there, mouth gaping. The world? Being one to say what’s on my mind, sometimes to a disadvantage, I asked, “The world? What do you mean?”

Well, the father said the ungodly influence and the tourist who take pictures of their faces.  I then asked if he knew of any married Amish women who needed a job, and he grabbed the fence post for strength. (I think I shocked him) “Married women?” Shaking his head, he told me they were needed at home.

Sometimes the Amish can rub me the wrong way. They say things, giving no explanation, and I have to probe deeper to unearth what they’re trying to say. So I asked if they were too busy raising children and having some sort of home business. Bingo, I was right. They believe in Proverbs 31 very strongly.

Here’s a section of Proverbs 31 from The Message Bible:

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,

    and enjoys knitting and sewing.

She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places

    and brings back exotic surprises.

She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast

    for her family and organizing her day.

She looks over a field and buys it,

    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,

    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.

She senses the worth of her work,

    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,

    diligent in homemaking.

 This was written before the Industrial Revolution, when women had to make their own material and sew their own clothes. That’s where the knitting and sewing part comes in, but the rest is very relevant for our times.  I see that Amish women have a healthy sense of their worth as homemakers, and their husbands and children have a respect for motherhood I don’t see too often in the “English” world. (This also carries on to grandmothers, who are involved with raising the “grandkinner”.

Now, Amish women are not chained to their homes, cooking and cleaning all day. They come in contact with non-Amish, since they take their quilts and other crafts to local stores. When I sit on SuzyB Knits front porch for a knitting lesson, I see Amish women going in and out of the stores along the road to deliver goods, and they stay and chat.  I did a blog on Amish women entrepreneurs. Click here to read:

Back to the mothers of preschoolers on my mind; you are not moms who sit in front of TV’s all day and watch soaps. You’re actively involved in your children’s lives That’s what a real stay at home mother is. You believe everything else is secondary to your kids and their needs. You can be a writer, but your kids should come first.
But, I felt I couldn't divide my time between writing and my children, having four kids close in age, so I put my writing on the shelf until they were grown. To be honest, my kids come first and they’re married. When people ask me what it’s like to be a writer, I tell them it’s my passion, but being a mom is so much more important. The joy of raising my kids far supersedes seeing a book in print. I really believe that being a mother is the most important job on the planet because everyone needs to feel there's someone who is there for them. Loneliness and isolation in America is epidemic. If you’re a working mom, needing to make a living, if your kids know they come before any board meeting or deadline, I think you’re a “stay at home mom” at heart. My mom had to work, but I always knew her heart was in her home. <3

Mother teaching her child to knit

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! While I am student now, I was a stay at home mom until my daughter was about 3 years old. Then, her dad stayed home because I could make more money. We both felt that raising a child, making a comfortable safe-haven of a home, and passing on our values was way more important than money or corporate standing. Now, my daughter is 6 years old and in school and I am also in school. We study together and she knows that no matter what this life throws at her, mom and dad are there to buffer it all until she's ready to handle it on her own.