I can’t help but think this is work in its purest, most Edenic form, work that is an unadulterated expression of love and creativity, work free of monetary stain or manufacturing triteness.
If the world ever urgently needed a Christian model of work, work done without force, without manipulation or bartering for finances, isn’t a mother’s work that elusive ideal?
It leers at me on medical forms, government forms, that space labeled “Occupation,” and inky point of my Bic pen always hangs. What exactly is my occupation, this work that I do raising six children? Sadly, I imagine how I might be regarded if I scratch it out in block letters, “Housewife” or “Stay-at-Home-Mom.” Because our society flaunts the fallacy that the only valid work is that which brings in a paycheck, buys us niceties.“The habit of thinking about work as something one does to make money is so ingrained in us that we can scarcely imagine what a revolutionary change it would be to thinking about it instead in terms of the work done,” writes Dorothy Sayers, Oxford graduate and member of the informal group of writers that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.It’s true. We can hardly imagine how counter-culture it would be to make unpaid work, the work we do for love, like mothering and its bearing and feeding and giving and teaching and laughing and crying and caring for children, and made it the standard for our assessment of work.
“To do so would mean taking the attitude of mind we reserve for our unpaid work – the things we make and do for pleasure…. and making that the standard of all our judgments about things and people.”
Sayers explores the possibilities, “We should ask of an enterprise, not “will it pay?” but “is it good?”; of a man, not “what does he make?” but “what is his work worth?”;… of employment, not “how much a week?” but “will it exercise my faculties to the utmost?”
From the Mother Letter Project, an excerpt from Ann Voskamp: