Quoting Quiverfull: Working Your Life Away?

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

by Cindy at Get Along Home: August 20, 2012

Even worse, I can’t complain about it, not only because it’s a self-imposed rule (I hate complainers), but because the moment my self-restraint slips and I let out a sigh, someone will invariably blame my exhaustion or depression (and I do have a tendency to be melancholy when I’m worn out) on my “too many” children. And yeah, I work hard for this family, and that is why I am tired. There’s certainly no arguing with that. But I can’t help but notice that, when someone is exhausted from doing some other kind of work, she gets a pat on the back.  “Congratulations, you earned a restful weekend!” But when a mom with “too many” kids gets to the limits of her strength, it’s because she’s either too stupid or too oppressed to stop having children.

Get Along Husband posed an interesting question to me a few weeks ago. He didn’t exactly ask the question, but it was implicit in the words he recounted to me. It seems he heard a woman on the radio talking about growing up in a large family, and why she wasn’t having many (or maybe any) children herself. You see, her mother “worked her life away” and the interviewee didn’t want to have to live like that—always having to make meals, clean spills, and wash faces.  My husband’s unspoken question, of course, was “Are you working your life away, Cindy? Are these kids doing that to you?”

Well, yes. I am working my life away, as a matter of fact. What else was I supposed to do with it? Take a 60-year vacation after high school?

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Persephone

    I don’t usually read these types of blogs, so I went over to the site and read some of the other posts. I was saddened. Truly. There is so much misinformation, disinformation, lack of information, circular logic, and outright lying in the evangelical/dominionist/quiverfull movement, and much of it is at that blog.

    One of the biggest ones is that birth control didn’t really exist before the pill. Anyone with any real historical knowledge knows that this is completely incorrect. Yet the author throws up the belief that this generation has been granted birth control as a test (kinda like those dinosaur bones) of their faith.

    She goes to bed tired, wakes up still sleepy, homeschools, pops out babies regularly, and then when her husband asks her if she feels she’s working herself to death, she *happily* responds that that is what she’s supposed to do. I don’t remember reading that in the Bible. This is such a Calvinist attitude, tied in with the guilt imposed for being born female in an extreme patriarchal system, and it will only lead to misery in the long run.

    They believe that their god made this world for us, filled it with beauty, gave us the ability to feel joy and happiness, then wants us to deny ourselves any rest or pleasure in that world beyond that granted while worshipping.

  • Chervil

    Rest is very important according to the bible. On the 7th day… the 4th commandment… Seems like there’s a false choice of only 1 of 2 possibilities after high school, there just simply couldn’t be any other way to live your life. Seriously? It’s either a 60 year nap or a lifetime of exhaustion?

  • Nea

    Does she really think that anyone not living a life just like hers is taking a 60-year vacation?

  • Persephone

    Apparently, most of us are. Funny, because two kids, full-time job, part-time school, etc. is not my idea of vacation.

  • http://calulu.blogspot.com Calulu

    She claimed last week on NLQ not to be quiverfull but everything on her blog contradicts that.
    There are many more options than super-busy or 60-year vacation. Why limit yourself like that?

  • chervil

    ‘It seems he heard a woman on the radio talking about growing up in a large family, and why she wasn’t having many (or maybe any) children herself. You see, her mother “worked her life away” and the interviewee didn’t want to have to live like that—always having to make meals, clean spills, and wash faces. My husband’s unspoken question, of course, was “Are you working your life away, Cindy? Are these kids doing that to you?”’

    A more interesting, unspoken question might be, let’s say Cindy’s kids grow up with alternate interests, and, like the interviewee, they look at their mother’s chosen life and say “not for me”, and decide to have only a couple, or no children, would she be as scornful towards their choices? Would she consider that they are taking a 60 year vacation as well?

    “But when a mom with “too many” kids gets to the limits of her strength, it’s because she’s either too stupid or too oppressed to stop having children.”

    What’s with the worrying about what other people think. It works both ways. Cindy thinks that I’m a horrible mom/woman/person because I only have 2 kids and I work and I explore other facets of life like spending the day yesterday lunching with my brother and dining with my husband. I really don’t care.

  • Meggie

    I would question the impact on the kids of being raised by an exhausted and depressed mother.

    My boss doesn’t say congratulations when I work to hard. She says “Thankyou but make sure you don’t burn yourself out. I want you to still be happy working here in ten years time.” It sounds like her husband is asking something similar.

  • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

    My boss has sent me home if she thinks I’m about to burn out.

  • Nea

    Mine too. A boss that values employees wants the employee to be fit and capable of working in the long run, not burned out into incoherence in the short term. The original post, in its very binary situation, thinks that the choice is between not working at all or working 100% capacity for 100% of the time, which is simply not physically possible.

  • http://www.concerningpurity.blogspot.com Lynn

    Having not grown up quiverful, I didn’t realize the supposed persecution these mothers feel compared to working mothers. I don’t doubt that there are occasions where they are treated the way they say. Most people think it’s irresponsible to have more children than you can handle and so will have less sympathy for the consequences of your choices.

    The part about working her life away made me sad and depressed.

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com KR Wordgazer

    Here’s what I don’t get. Why didn’t her husband actually speak the question? And even if he didn’t, why didn’t she be honest and say, “Yes, I do sometimes want some time just to myself, to rest and play and refresh”? And then he could have said, “How about I take the kids for the afternoon and you go do whatever you like best to do?”
    The reason is that she’s living under a system that considers it wrong for a woman to take care of her own emotional and physical needs. And that’s actually unbiblical (see my study: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2011/06/nlq-faq-should-there-be-a-you-in-quivering/ ). But it results in a breakdown in communication between burned-out wife and clueless husband that’s really unfortunate and unnecessary.

  • KarenH

    I really hate the way this always comes down to you either have to have 8 trillion kids of your own OR you work outside the home and destroy your marriage.

    There’s no reason in the world Cindy and her husband can’t decide to have 8 trillion children, if that’s what works for them. Go for it! Hurray for you! Where I take issue is where what works for her is supposed to be the one-size fits all standard for everyone. And it’s NEVER that way for men. I mean if a man said, “I watched my dad slave and pinch and work his life away in a factory and I”m never going to do that.” those same people would be all “Yay you!!!!” Because it’s okay to decide you don’t want to be a factory worker and that you’d rather own your own business. And even if that same guy said, “My dad owned his own business and the stress of keeping it running, plus the hours really took him away from our family. I never really knew my dad. So I knew I wanted a job where I could spend quality time in the lives of my children. So they would know me.” Again, those people would be all, “Yay, you! Family Values Rock!”

    But when women don’t want to have 8 trillion children and just want to concentrate their attentions on just a few. Or one? Oh my god. The world is ending and it’s the death of Christianity. If she’d rather work outside the home? Even if she’s a doctor and discovered how to cure cancer, how to cure the cold. stop world poverty AND find a good protective home for every kitten and puppy in the world? “You are denying God’s blessings! You whore!!”

    I say, hurray for the Cindys of the world who WANT 8 trillion kids, and can afford to raise them (even if “afford to” means her dh works and she stays home and both are happy). And hurray for the Not-Cindys of the world who want and have something different. And Thank God that we have them both because as Scripture teaches, if every one of us was the toe on the Body of Christ, well, there would be a lot of missing parts. (and one hell of a crowded shoe).

  • http://belljaimie@ymail.com Jaimie

    When my kids were young I was a stay-at-home mom and it definitely is a tough job. No one will deny that. But if the pressures of being a mother is causing depression and complete exhaustion, then I question the wisdom of having more and more children.
    The sixty year long vacation after high school is an interesting statement. That is a pretty over-the-top stuff. You can almost feel the desperation, the as yet unspoken knowledge that she screwed up her life by turning herself into a baby machine. Not that she would ever admit it. I feel sorry for her.

  • chervil

    The thing is… I feel like I could listen. If Cindy could drop the facade of being a martyr, and let her self-restraint slip, I would totally understand. It’s not a requirement, where I’m at, to put up a brave face every minute of every day. To have those unasked questions remain unasked. Go ahead, ask. You get to complain, you get to feel exhausted, frustrated, melancholy and overwhelmed. You get to have those moments of reflection that help to start each day anew. It’s really OK. I”d give her that pat on the back she needs, somebody should.