Recently I read an article regarding Michele Obama. It seems that several members of the women’s movement have criticized her for deciding to put her career on hold in order to spend more time with her children while her husband is president. I mean the outrage, wanting to spend more time with your children in a high stress situation!
I may be silly here, but I thought the idea of the women’s movement was to give women a choice. The choice to work, the choice to stay home, the choice not to have children at all.
It makes me wonder. Recently I spoke with a woman who , with enthusiasm, told about having to go to LA to get her hair properly straightened. I smiled politely and nodded my commiseration. It’s way outside my area of experience but hey, live and let, right? Of course after the hostess mentioned that I am a writer, same woman politely quizzed me about how to get published. Then she asked if I worked too. (As if editing and writing was not work) I told her no, I quit my accounting job to work from home so I could take care of my toddler and be there after school for my children. She actually sniffed and turned her head to speak to the person on her other side. For the rest of the evening, I didn’t exist in her world. Was I offended? No, I actually almost laughed. Not a merry laugh, the ironic kind.
I am sometimes jealous when I hear women talking about jetting off here and there. Or even women who get to leave the house more than for the weekly trip to the grocery store. I can’t fathom a spur of the moment, let’s go…. fill in the blank. Or even having enough money to go the hairstylist let alone driving to LA to do it. I have a lot of respect for women who have chosen to spend so much time, money and energy on educating themselves and I am proud of them–my eldest daughter (D1) is among their ranks.
It’s a unique kind of life I’ve chosen: a single-stay-at-home mom. There is a lot of loneliness, isolation, stress and pulling out of the hair, but it’s one I feel grateful for and one I chose knowing how undervalued and under appreciated I would feel from time to time.
And that’s why the ironic laugh. At one time, I’d have been devastated. Not anymore. It is a life I chose and I’m proud of it.
Although I don’t know what it’s like to not have children, having had them my entire adult life, I have worked and raised children and I know how challenging that is. It seemed the only answer was cloning myself because I just couldn’t be everywhere I was needed when I was needed. When the opportunity came to stay home, do what I loved and concentrate more fully on my children, I jumped at it, but not without guilt. I wonder if that’s what Mrs. Obama is feeling. Guilt? I hope not.
There is no dishonor in focusing on your children. And if anyone says it’s not a difficult job, you can be assured they have not done it. It does not set the women’s right move back. How could it? It does not say anything negative about women who chose to work (or those women who have no choice but to work.) It doesn’t even say anything negative about women who for whatever reason decide not to have children. It’s simply a choice and there are pro and cons to any decision but it is a valid choice we can now make and isn’t that the point? And can’t you respect that?
Off my soap box now.