“Mom” Is a Job, Too

I’m finally caught up on Boundless and ShoreLines! Woo-hoo! It’s a good feeling to be able to pay attention to the number of unread emails in my inbox again; I’ve been largely ignoring it for months. (I was, for example, only able to notice the spam email dated 1980 (before I was born!) because it was the only unread message there.)

So one of this week’s articles (and really this week, not just the ones I read this week) addressed the issue of stay-at-home moms. A similar issue came up for one of the CDA sisters during Shrine and Dine. Roberto Rivera y Carlos writes the article “Get to Work or Else?” to discuss Linda Hirshman’s essay-turned-book on why the “best educated females” are staying home with their babies, and why that’s unacceptable. To her, I say, “Why?”

Rivera y Carlos starts his article with a brief summary of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I read that during Spring Break of my freshman year for women’s studies. In the novel, young women are no longer allowed to work. Any woman of childbearing age is pushed into forced surrogacy, while older women toil in labor camps. The women of the elite are childless, depending on their handmaids to have children. Rivera y Carlos discusses the idea that Hirshman rejects outright: that young, educated women must work outside the home for the good of society; if they don’t, they’re failures.

Hirshman seems to have embraced a more liberal side of feminism. (Liberal is a loaded word, but I’m going to explain.) According to this particular branch of feminist thought, babies enslave women, tying them to servitude in the home. The only way women can be empowered is to go straight to work, getting married if they choose to, and maybe having children if there’s time, but going back to work as soon as physically possible.

My definition of feminism is vastly different. To me, feminism is about making the sexes as equal as possible. (In some ways, men and women will never be equal, which is what God intended.) If a women chooses to stay home with her children, why is that a disgrace to society? If her husband is willing and able to earn money to support the family without her working, then she can work only within the home. If she chooses to work outside the home, sharing more of the parenting with someone else (siblings, daycare providers, and/or her husband), then she can. My mom did, except for the time between Ryan’s birth and our return to the U.S. My opinion of her remains the same.

Of course, my mom didn’t go to college. If she were a Harvard grad, I might wonder why she wasn’t using the degree she’d worked to earn, but it would be up to her to make that choice. Who knows—she might, in that situation, simply have chosen to postpone a career for family, rather than the other way around. God gave us free will. As parents, we have to include the well-being of our children in an informed exercising of that will. And a highly-educated mommy just might be a handy thing to have when calculus homework comes along.

Related reading from Boundless: “My Inner Mommy War”, “Get Smart”, “I Want to Be a Mom”.

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