Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Detour: Either Way, Moms Are Changing the World

I started today intending to write a 7 Quick Takes post reflecting on Lent and Easter.  But then this post over at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum caught my attention and an email exchange with my friend, Nikki got me thinking . . .

At the heart of Sheila's post (and, I am sure, many others out today in defense of Ann Romney) is the pull many (most? all?) moms feel between the desire/necessity (depending on the family's circumstances) to participate in the workforce outside the home and the desire/necessity (again, depending on the family) to stay at home to raise their child(ren).

In the pulsating blogosphere, there is this constant tension between moms who staunchly believe that staying home with the children is best for the children, even their calling or vocation, and moms who think they can best set an example for their children by being a contributing force in the corporate sphere, politics, or the arts. 

Let me tell you, as a mom who spends three days a week in an office and two days a week at home with my son, I feel that tension.  Some days I wish I was at my son's side full-time as he discovers the world; other days I yearn to be back in the courtroom. 

When the "second wave" of the Western feminist movement took off in the 1960's, it was about a woman's right to choose whether she stayed at home and raised a family or climbed the corporate ladder.  Up until then (and, some may argue, even now, depending on the field or the geographical location) some career paths weren't even open to women.  

Feminists bucked the idea that women had to stay home, clean house, change diapers, and train up the future generation.

Like many movements, however, I think it may have swung too far the other way.  Now, if we read between the lines of the Hilary Rosen vs. Ann Romney buzz, there's a belief that we owe it to our bra-burning feminist predecessors to kiss our children goodbye every day and don our power suits, even if that's not what our heart tells us is right.  Sheila's post sardonically asks, "if we stay home with our kids, [do] we somehow “betray the sisterhood” or something?"

I don't think that's what feminism is meant to be about.  Or, at least, it's not what it ought to be about. 

Likewise, though, I don't think that's what the mom-supportive feminine movement ought to be about either.

It should be about choice.

Women started out wanting women to have a choice.  Men were the "enemy".  Now?  Women are telling other women what to do (in both directions)!  We've turned on ourselves!

My friend Nikki said it best, "Raising kids is hard no matter how you do it. It is not harder or easier to stay home or work [outside the home] it is just a different kind of hard."

We women ought to support one another in our choices: whether we choose to change the world by legislating for change or curing cancer; or whether we believe in changing the world, as Steven Curtis Chapman put it, "one little heartbeat at a time".  Either way, we women are doing the hard work that will shape the future.

Enough with the mommy drive-bys!  If we have the time and means to be perusing the blogosphere pondering this issue, we need to be thankful to live in an era and place, and under circumstances where BOTH staying at home and working outside the home are available options (for many Western women, their economic circumstances dictate the role the must play, and, heaven knows, our sisters on the other side of the globe to not have that luxury!).  We need to have each other's backs - if we don't who will? 

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.  I have dishes to wash.  And a hearing to prepare for.

Image: Ambro /

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