Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book review: The Way Home

Anyone who has read any of my writing knows I’m a huge defender of stay-at-home moms. There are too few of us left in this world, and I figure we need all the defense we can get.

So when I found out there was a 25th anniversary edition of Mary Pride’s classic The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Realty being released, I knew I had to read it. Or re-read it, actually. I first read this book back in 1996 when Older Daughter was an infant. I was fresh out of graduate school and my husband was struggling to keep our home woodcraft business afloat and able to support us. Pressured by schoolmates and coworkers to contribute in a meaningful way to the family income, I was searching for anything to justify my fierce desire to stay home with our baby.

That fierce desire became more and more difficult because of the precarious financial existence in those early years of our business. For many years, I ended up taking a succession of second- and third-shift jobs while my husband stayed home with our daughter (and later, second daughter). In other words, like so many young people we toggled work hours so one of us was always home with our children. “Daycare” is a four-letter word in our home. We strongly feel that no one but us should have the responsibility or privilege of raising our daughters.

When our business reached the shaky stage where I could quit outside employment and join my husband in our workshop, I felt like I had won the lottery. I knew I was back in my rightful place: the home.

Because make no mistake: no matter how much feminists would have us believe housewives are pitiful hapless drudges, stay-at-home moms know better.

Pride’s book debunks the feminist notion that the Bible denies women any power, prestige, or ambitions. Feminists would like to claim that the Bible defines a woman’s role as that of a helpless parasite. To which I would love to ask, really? Do you think God created half the population of the planet to be useless parasites? Or perhaps – just maybe – He created women for a separate but equal-in-importance role?

Mary Pride shows how modern society emphasizes autonomy at the expense of partnership as one of the forces driving couples apart.

The whole premise of Pride’s book is that marriage and parenthood are not the burdens and hassles modern feminism has painted them to be. Women can find unbelievable freedom within the biblical definition of family, freedom to truly learn what God has in store for them.

That this freedom may not include being CEO of a law firm is what bugs the feminists, so if you’re of a feminist mindset you may want to skip this book altogether.

But if you feel that family life can be richer and deeper than progressive society has led you to believe, Pride’s book will reinforce and encourage your decision to be the heart of a family.


  1. I never thought I would enjoy being a stay-at-home. But now after 20 years I realize it is the greatest job around. Talk about freedom! I am my own boss, I make the schedule, I make the rules, I pick the priorities. I now tell my adult daughter, " I pray you have the privilege of having the best job in the world!" And I mean it!

  2. Hello Patrice. Good blog. I, too, read Mary Pride's book back when I was first married and had my first child. I was inspired by her writings, and what she had to say was a huge confirmation of what I had been raised to believe about a woman's role. I still go back to that book for an occasional reading. Thanks for mentioning this classic.
    My husband has always preferred that I be at home with our children (I homeschooled both kids), and he has worked hard to provide for us while I work hard to make our home the center of our life. God has blessed this choice.

  3. I agree about stay at home moms to a point. Your story is how it is to be done right, although way too many people I know do it the wrong way or for the wrong reasons. Several people I know were trained to think that their role in life is to find a husband, produce children, and stay home. But they add shop, get nails done, do little to no housework, and ignore their children to the mix. One was so desperate to have children after most of the doctors in the area told her either she was incapable of bearing or not to breed because of it might kill both the baby and mother in the process, she went to the nearest metropolis to finally find a doctor that said she could have kids. Ten months later, they had a beautiful little girl with so many problems that she may not live to see her 3rd birthday. But the medical bills came to $1 million. Two months later, she was pregnant again. This baby has a few minor issues, but surgery will correct it. But she stays at home, and blames the husband, who works 100+ hours a week to pay for them, for the genetic anomalies. It’s really sad that she uses religion to make him work himself to the bone so she can be the happy housewife.

    Another friend just had a kid last year, and the wife was a vet assistant. She quit to have the baby. She stays at home and sends the kid to daycare for half a day, so she can “get used to other kids”, but refuses to help out the financial situation for that half day. “Stay at home is my job”, she says, but lives a 2 income lifestyle on 1 income. It’s upsetting to see my friend work 2 jobs to pay for her selfishness.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to have a kid and my wife to stay at home. In order to do that, we have begun to downsize our life and begun to diversify into home-based business. Luckily, I may be getting a better governmental job out here in the sticks with my Civil Engineering degree to help offset the possible loss of her income, but her ag business degree helps because she has started raising goats for milk and meat. I raise chickens, and we are expanding our garden. Bees and fruit trees will be in the spring, and the wife is perfecting quilting. All these items will make it easier for us to make ends meet when the time comes. That, and we cut out the fat in our lives. We kept the internet, but lost the cable. Too much tv was making it hard for us to enjoy the outdoors, and the internet keeps us in touch with family. We downgraded our large crossover for a fuel efficient car, but kept the truck for hauling goats. We were lucky to own the house outright, but got a low interest mortgage to pay off the vehicles, the credit cards and a small loan that was used for updating the house. This made it possible for us to live on only one income and not have to work me to death to pay for it. It’s about good choices, as Patrice points out. And hopefully we can pay off that one loan in 5 years and be closer to debt-free.

    But I also think that stay at home moms are being taught in schools and homes, but in the wrong way. They are teaching girls that it’s ok to be the Stepford wife, but make your husband work to provide for you. A kid is a perfect way to stay at home. Not to nurture and raise him/her, but to watch tv, shop, take naps during the day, shop, and live the life you think you deserve. It’s upsetting, and may cause problems down the road when the husband finally realizes that he slaves so she can live free.

  4. I've never read this book but I think I might want to pick it up now :)

    When my oldest son was 2 months old I started a new job at a bank. It was the worst thing for me. I was hired on part time but working full time hours which was good for paying off bills but not so good for me. My son was watched by my mother and I was intensely jealous that she got to be with him all day.

    I finally was able to quit working when my husband and I decided that full time school would be good for me. It freed up a little more time at home but that time was spent doing mountains of homework.

    When I got pregnant with my youngest, I quit school and was so happy. Now we are to the point that my husband realizes how important it is for me to be home and we are working together to get a home craft business set up for me so I never have to work outside the home but I can bring in a little bit of money.

    It's been a bumpy road to get here but I'm so happy that I'm the one that gets to spend all day with my sons. It's been the most rewarding thing I've ever done with my life :)

  5. Having been home more than a year now (after years of full-time work) I can honestly say that people who've never done it have no idea how much work it is to be a stay-at-home wife/mother! When you dedicate yourself to do things right and well, without the shortcuts of fast food, daycare, or public schooling you immediately have your hands full. I now just laugh when people ask me in genuine confusion what I do all day. :0)

  6. after spending ten years in the military i got out and went back to college. then, after some schooling, i started my family and stayed home. i have had very small odd jobs outside of the home through the years-but nothing more than partime itty bitty jobs. when my son left home i started applying for work and found that "housewife and mother" had so little respect that i replaced the term with "domestic engineer". loved when anyone would ask me to explain that term especially when it encompasses everything a person could think of doing-i just did it for my family and for free. anyway, thinking in those terms, it gives others a different perspective of what a housewife/mother does and what her qualifications are.