Two pages into Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role and I was pretty confident that I was going to be purchasing a copy for everyone I knew. By the end of the book I wasn't as fond, but I think generally speaking, my opinion of it is still good. In today's society, when motherhood is looked down upon and is, in fact, discouraged - this book is quite a valuable tool and resource.
I realize that this post is going to be "speaking to the choir" more or less, since most of my regular readers here are stay at home moms like myself. You know the joys of being a mom, and you also know there are innumerable
If you would like validation for your sacrifice, then Beyond Bath Time will provide it. In this book, author Erin Davis addresses the lies that society has fed us about why the role of motherhood is one that can and should be avoided if at all possible. If you are of the mindset that motherhood is unimportant or that you cannot justify the idea of staying home and "merely" raising children with your life, then you might consider reading this. It may challenge your opinion on the importance of motherhood, for Erin Davis desires to develop within the hearts of women (in particular) a love for the role that they have been called by God to fill. If you are one of the first stay-at-home moms in your family, then you also might be incredibly encouraged by this book as it will most definitely affirm your decision and foster the desire to mother.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I believe that motherhood is a high calling and staying at home provides great value (and health) to the family structure. I believe women were created and designed to be life givers and nurturers and serve both the family and society well by embracing their design instead of rejecting it. I therefore very much appreciated Davis's message and agreed with it whole heartedly. I would most definitely hand this book over to anyone looking for a "shot in the arm" to encourage them to consider family first over a career. (Before my personal real life friends who do not agree start hooting and hollering in the comment section about my position - hang tight. I know your arguments, see your personalities and have some sympathies for what I know you are going to say. Feel free to share your opinions and rants below in the comment section anyway. I think, generally speaking, my position is reasonable. Specifically though I know a few of you have situations and personalities which create argument of the good sort so rant away if you'd like!)
I believe that Erin Davis has a lot of good things to share. During the first seven years of her marriage, she didn't want to be a mother. When she finally became pregnant, she cried as she told her husband about it. Becoming a mother and embracing that role was not something that came easy to Davis. She freaked out and then learned to cope - and thrive! She is not a perfect mother and readily admits that mothering is hard work. She maintains though that it is beautiful work as done before the Lord. She offers encouragement to moms who are weary in well-doing.
"Motherhood may include many trials, but that doesn't mean you aren't blessed. We think being blessed means we feel happy, our life is easy, and everything is smooth sailing. But we are actually blessed when we are doing kingdom work and when our circumstances make us more like Jesus and press us into a closer relationship with Him." (Chapter 7, Blessing or Burden?, page 96)
She reminds us that no matter how hard the day or the season of motherhood, the Lord is right there with us, offering us the strength we need to make it through! She quotes Colossians 1:10-12 and then says this:
"No matter how many challenges we face, we can be strengthened by God's power. We do not have to do it all in our own strength. And how do these verses urge us to respond to this problem? With patience, joy, and thanksgiving." (Chapter 7, Blessing or Burden?, page 93)
She encourages mothers not to just look at what is "right now" - but to look at the big picture of what they are doing when they decide to become mothers and focus their life's attention on training up children.
" . . . [Y]ou are not just building a family; you are building your part of the kingdom. Doing so has the power to strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of God and put His power and glory on full display." (Chapter 5, The Lesson Eve Teaches About Legacy, page 72)
Don't I know it! Any Christian mother who decides that she is going to stay home and raise her children (and then maybe even home school them!) is well aware that she is surrounded by people who do not like what she is doing. Such a mother is surrounded on all sides (by believers and unbelievers alike) who question her sacrifice, challenge her beliefs, mock and deride her and fail to offer her support in raising up not only little members of the Body of Christ, but future members of society! (And you should hope and pray that those future members of society are well-trained and productive or else you are going to have a heap o' problems to deal with once they are set loose!) But this: no matter how big and scary the naysayers make themselves, the Christian home maker/SAHM/home schooler has the assurance that God is with her and will help her leap over countless roadblocks and stand victorious (and blessed) in the end! (See Psalm 18:29 for encouragement.) Encouragement is precisely what Davis wishes to offer to the reader and she does so. Therefore I like the book.
All throughout the first half of the book I was in a state of love with it. Then I read the concluding chapters and became less enamored. I do think that's in part due to the fact that my personality is distinctly different than Davis'. First, I must tell you that I am a big proponent of a mother/family having a support system. I think being around like-minded people and having friends who can come alongside you and motivate you in a scripturally accurate way is incredibly important and valuable. Thus far, Davis and I agree. She focuses heavily on the idea of a spiritual "sisterhood" that got a little too flippant and ridiculous sounding to my personal taste.
It is here where I make my confession: I dislike the term play date and am virtually guaranteed to decline going on one if ever asked. I can't stand the term because it sounds like some sort of arrangement where the mothers get together to gossip while the children wallop each other in the fore or background. Personally I dislike suggesting that the only reason I'm going to get together with another mom is so that our kids can have some playtime. If I'm going to get together to really fellowship with another woman, I'm inclined to have a "ladies night out" rather than a "play date" because then I can focus on having a genuine and uninterrupted conversation with my friend. If my children are present, I am almost completely focused on training them how to behave. There isn't much time to relax. (Also, if I'm in a "play date" situation and I see someone else's kid needing some instruction I have a hard time relaxing.) "Play dates" are not for me. Davis rather encourages them. She also makes a point of talking about the benefits of Twitter (hey, you can even Twitter info about this book!) and Facebook (hey, you like the book's page!) and the like. It was a little too sales pitch-y and not very genuine in offering scriptural guidelines for pursuing Biblical fellowship with other females. We definitely differ on the ways and means which we seek out encouragement but we both agree that such encouragement is needed. I'm just not on the More Power to the Sisterhood Bandwagon that I feel she is on.
This is probably about as much of my own personal thoughts as you can handle at the moment and I should draw this to a close. I thought this book was really interesting though. I devoured it quickly and am generally approving of it, with the stated exceptions.
Thanks, Moody Publishers, for shooting a copy of this one my way. Excellent food for thought and a great testimony to a society that regrets life and dismisses life givers. Appreciate it!