TBM Topic 33: Stay-At-Home vs. Working Mothers
"The Mother's Dilemma" by Julie Robison
"On Motherhood" by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day
We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!
The first thing I think about my childhood is chocolate chip ice cream cones, us kids running through the sprinkler, and my mom wearing a headband and swimsuit while she sat in the sun, watching us and reading. What was she reading, you ask?
Oh, you know. The norm. Her cancer research.
Ironic, I know.
My mom is an oncology clinical nurse specialist - that is, an educator, a researcher, article writer, book editor, and well-beloved member of the hospital she's worked at for most of my life.
My mom has also been a Brownie leader, Cub Scout mom, volleyball and soccer coach, a good-enough cook, eater and maker of anything involving chocolate, a good listener, too fair of a judge, encouraging card writer, presents just because buyer, and mom to six kids.
These six kids:
|We're the kids your mom probably warned you about|
My mom comes from a family where most women are stay-at-home moms, and she definitely forged her own path. She gave up going to medical school so that she could have more scheule flexibility, since she and Dad wanted lots of kids so she could make us dress in matching outfits for pictures. (See below.)
This choice to work has had its perks and downfalls, but I certainly cannot imagine our family life without my mother working as she does. She's a role model in how to deal with tricky situations, time management, multi-tasking, and keeping cheerful when the going gets tough. With so many kids, Mom has really been able to help out the family financially. It also provides an outlet for her to receive outside appreciation in an area where she truly excels.
|Mom in her makeshift office during hospital renovations|
Another aunt paints and takes wonderful pictures, which is a skill she's able to contribute to a cancer non-profit she volunteers with. A couple aunts stay at home with their kids and are active at their schools. A couple more work full-time.
All the women in my life have been amazing inspirations for me, and are wonderful at what they do, and this is where I have a beef with this "debate" about women in the work force.
There are as many types of mothers as there are children. My mother, for instance, could not work the way she does if she had a special-needs child. My mother could not have worked as she did when we were younger if my parents could not have afforded extra help. My mother might have had to work more if my father was unemployed, deceased, or not around. My mother may also prefer to work so as to better handle her children's shenanigans (pure conjecture).
|We don't have special needs, we're just "special"...|
Moreover, working women is not a "new phenomena." Women have been putting in their fair share since cave men needed to cook the water buffalo they brought down. So is the question more about equality?
When people say women are being "kept down" because they don't get paid as much as men, I wonder where those numbers are coming from: is this an apples and oranges comparison? Are different jobs being compared or are men and women working the same job and not being paid the same? (Or is it both?)
Nevertheless, if women's power is only showed through a paycheck or a work title, then women are being under-sold and under appreciated.
It must be difficult for a woman to feel she is a competent partner to her husband if she herself does not see her work at home as worthwhile. The marriage partnership between men and women cannot be had without mutual understanding, a willingness to pitch in and listen, respect of self and others, and love. It has nothing to do with how many times a person made dinner verses how many times the other person mowed the lawn.
In my life time, I have seen mostly scorn towards the idea of a woman staying home with her children. But isn't that like teaching? And isn't teaching a worthwhile venture? The formation of little minds and souls? To overemphasize a woman's need to be fruitful outside the home diminishes all efforts done within it. Women are so much more than their job title, and motherhood is more than bearing and raising children.
As I prepare for marriage, I'm in the midst of planning: planning a wedding, planning a move out of my parents' house, planning another move out of the state for B.'s residency (starting 6 or so months after the wedding), planning family finances, and planning for grad school.
I'm also planning and praying about working. I'm not convinced the stay at home without working life is for me, nor would I like to have a time-consuming job outside the home with little ones underfoot.
|Most of us in super-hot Tennessee|
If the woman works outside the home, the family will function as such.
If the woman works in the home, the family will function as such.
If the woman's work is the home, the family will function as such.
There is no right answer when it comes to one's vocation, as long as it is properly aligned with God and your loved ones.
I'm excited to be a mom. One way I'm inadvertently preparing for this is my part-time babysitting job for a neighboring family. The mom works from home, and I am so glad I get to help their little unit function well. I get to dress her kids, play with her kids, feed her kids, and cart them around. I know she loves to do that too, but I know it's also nice to have a break, get some work done, go to an exercise class, get lunch with her mom, and spend time with friends.
In this life balance we seek, kids are only a burden to the unimaginative. Motherhood is a special role only women can fill and it is in our feminine genius to discern how best to serve one's family in that way. If physical motherhood is not attainable for women (for those called to a religious or chaste single life), then spiritual motherhood is, by being a kind woman children can look up to, other adults can respect, and that awesome aunt kids love to have.
Nothing in this life is less clear-clear cut or for the faint of heart, but being a Mom is certainly the most important job that no one can properly label.
|Aunts, Grandmother, Mother: real-life feminine geniuses|
(Thanks to Jen for hosting!)