Monday, July 14, 2008

The curse

A woman tells about her journey from a solitary poet to a happy wife and mother:

My whole adult life I wanted to be a poet. Then my poetry professor of all people cursed me, saying, "You'll probably end up us a housewife with a bunch of kids."

Isn't it ironic how in this day and age, the words "housewife with a bunch of kids" have come to mean "nothing meaningful; nobody" - resulting in an entire generation of women with aching emptiness in their souls, not knowing why they feel so unhappy if they have everything necessary for "fulfillment"? The pillars of feminine contentment - a good husband, a home, children to love and care for - have been portrayed as hindrances to what we are "supposed" to pursue.

I encountered little resistance except for the lone dissenting voice of my mother who asked me every few months if I had any plans to get married and tried to fix me up with her friends' sons.

Jewish parents are often blamed for "sticking their nose" and being over-protective of their adult children. However I think it's definitely preferable, compared to indifferent parents who don't notice that their son or daughter is getting closer and closer to 40, with no prospective marriage ahead. I know more than one good marriage that started from introductions made by parents.

Thirty years later, the poet says:

Much of the writing and creating I've done has not been on paper but rather on the lives I've touched and been touched by.

Click here to read the entire article.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was a wonderful article. It does often seem like a curse for many to be cursed with a husband and family but it is one I'd invite with open arms! When people ask me what I want to be, I always respond with something other than what I want to do (have a family and stay at home) because it just isn't acceptable in the academic setting. I hear the comments: 'She spent all that time in college and was so smart and wasted it all by staying home!' and the responses 'O, what a waste!'

S

AnneK said...

Hi Anna, I haven't commented for a long time, but wanted to chime in for a bit here. "Isn't it ironic how in this day and age, the words "housewife with a bunch of kids" have come to mean "nothing meaningful; nobody" ..."

I haven't seen this type of seeing family as hindrance attitude here at workplace. People generally loves kids and families, and even if they don't they are never rude. I think when we make a choice of lifestyle, we generally tend to be over-sensitive to people's "perceived" opinions. Just as an example, my boss (lady) was talking to another lady, B. My boss was Bs boss too. B was saying that she had a very tight work schedule and might need to come in Saturday. My boss said : "Honey, you have a nine month old son. Ten years down the line, no one is going to care what work you did this coming saturday. But you will regret not spending enough time with your son while he was a baby."

I honestly don't see a whole "poor me, the downtrodden homemaker" except in homemaking sites. I know plenty of homemakers in real life. But what I have usually found is if you are looking down at other peoples choices (in attitude, not words necessarily), they will look down on yours too.

Just my 2c

Glad to know you are enjoying life. May God bless your family!

Terry said...

Amen, Anna. It's a shame that we devalue one of the few things of real value in our world.

USAincognito said...

I am 30 this year and still have no desire to get married or to have children. And my parents have been completely supportive of it. They would rather I wait to find the right man (however long that takes) when/if the time is right than just settle for someone who is not a godly person just so I can say I am married. Plus, I cannot have children anyway.

And I really do enjoy being single right now. I enjoy being able to volunteer my time to help others in need, I enjoy my line of work, and I enjoy spending time exploring new places, visiting friends/family, or just relaxing at home.

I know I am not the norm but I believe I am an individual in God's eyes and His individual plan for me is perfect. :)

Milena said...

Oh thank you for this. I recently quit my job to become a wife and mother (God willing!). I still have many interests and plan to work from home part-time teaching voice lessons and singing, writing, and I also plan to finish my master's degree in finance.

At the start of my new semester, the teacher asked each student to introduce themselves, say where they worked, and what they plan to do with their degree. When it was my turn, I said, "I quit my job two weeks ago." People looked saddened, I prompted, "Oh no, it was a conscious choice." Their faces eased up, and I continued, "I quit because I wanted to complete my degree sooner and I'm a stay at home wife and mother. I don't know if I'll ever get a conventional job again, but I enjoy learning about economics." The platinum blonde who had just finished up her tale of her high-powered job and PhD pursuits looked concerned for me.

The teacher attempted a gracious transition by launching into a story about all the different reasons one might pursue education even if we cannot see the immediate value in it, there is certainly something to gain.

*Sigh.*

I know my education is of use outside of a corporate job - it has brought my husband and I closer together, and I hope to homeschool one day as well - who wouldn't want an MSF degree holder teaching their children about finance? Not to mention planning for my family's day to day financial needs and retirement. : )

Thia said...

I don't have time to read the previous 5 comments at this moment, but the thought in my head is, "why does being a wife and mother rule out being a poet?" True, I may not have a lot of time to sit and spin pretty pictures with words, but there certainly is some time I have to give to my interests.

Mrs. Sara said...

Dear Anna,
I've read your site numerous times in the past, and I have always enjoyed it. I haven't been here in a while, and I'm delighted to come back and find you've married! Congratulations!

My husband and I are expecting our first son in November, and I'll be quitting my job before he comes to become a homemaker. I can't wait!

Congratulations again on your marriage!

Peace be with you,
Sara

Anonymous said...

Anne, consider yourself lucky as you seem like you have a great boss. Many are not like that and even more so for women bosses than men.

I wouldn't say that the negative attitudes against homemakers are just 'perceived.' I'm not a homemaker (not even currently dating) but have heard many negative comments about homemaking especially in my college classes. I've never had anyone tell me that my goal of getting a higher degree was a waste of time and that I should get married instead but have often been told to get my education first and then worry about the family later. Family was always something to obtain when it was convenient to do so and this is seen by how many put off marriage and parenthood until their 30s.

Attitudes or judgments are not just reserved for those who choose to stay at home but for the single mothers who do work as well. I am the daughter of a single mother who worked very hard for her success while also achieving a masters degree while doing so. But while working to success she had to deal with bosses who were not very understanding when a child got sick and she had to go pick her up or when there were school holidays and she could not afford child care and so had to stay home. Office attitudes of workers as mothers have much to be improved upon and cultural attitudes towards them as well. I was talking to a female boss in the past when a coworker came up crying about how one of her children called crying saying that they had been left alone and although the boss sympathized, she did not permit the worker to go home because we were too busy (this was at a restaurant). I felt so sorry for her as she had young kids (one was just 6 mos) and the whole day she was a mess because she wasn't even allowed to go home to check on them. There is also complaining by coworkers without children who complain about having to pick up the slack of those with children.

Unfortunately, when there are complaints about this type of behavior they are often written off as being 'perceived' and that the person complaining is just overly sensitive. Sometimes it is true sometimes it is not. But it is because of these types of attitudes that women (and others) fail to speak up when harrassment, sexual or non-sexual, occurs. If someone feels that he/she is being judged, harassed, or discriminated against, I feel that that person has every right to feel injured and I think it is wrong and insensitive for people to accuse them of being too sensitive or having just 'perceived' it. I have been accused of being overly sensitive when a coworker made the comment "you are so beautiful, you must be mixed with something." (I'm African-American). I did not complain to my boss but to other coworkers who accused me of being too sensitive over a 'nice' compliment by another coworker and assured me that the other person wasn't being racist. I don't like bringing up the racism card for just about anything, but I'm quite sure that that was a racist comment if I've ever heard one but it seems like I was the only one who thought this way!

(Sorry, I put a little venting in this response but I just loathe it when someone brings up a concern and others dismiss it so flippantly)

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Bethany Hudson said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the article, Anna.
~Bethany

Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

With a few simple words you have conveyed a clear argument for the value of being a wife, mother and homemaker. Thank you Anna, this has encouraged me very much today.

H and S said...

My perception is that there is growing awareness of the value and acceptance of homemaking and mothering...

... and now to the next step, where everyone understands that it is a highly skilled, highly demanding and highly rewarding job.

I've done lots of interesting stuff (research, writing, public speaking, political advocacy, program management, music performances, teaching) and nothing can match my recent experiences of being a wife and mother for the level of challenge, difficulty, personal growth and reward.

AnneK said...

Anon, I am not saying everything is "perceived" I am so sorry that you had to put up with rude people. The point I was trying to make is sometimes if we are over-sensitive, we might even misunderstand valid concerns as insults.

I am sorry if my words hurt you.

Anonymous said...

Anne, thank you for understanding. Yes, we are sometimes over-sensitive unfortunately because in this country (and others) we are constantly forced on the defensive to defend our own viewpoints, morals, and religion. I disagree with so many viewpoints and never would say anything, but it seems that those who uphold traditional/conservative values are not given the same respect.

I do have to admit that you are kind of right that there are some with traditional values who are judgmental towards working mothers and none-homeschoolers and that on some there is a kind of 'holier than thou' attitude (even though I've yet to meet a Christian who has never sinned!) and that if a mother doesn't stay home, she doesn't love her family. My mother had to work hard because she didn't have any alternatives and I am getting a degree and advanced degree because I can't count on the fact that I'll get married or if I do if I'll even be able to stay home. But I would like to but it may not happen. Some of us are called to be single and childless, some married.

MarkyMark said...

Ladies,

I'm going to say something that may be construed as harsh; it's not the first time, and I doubt it'll be the last, given my lack of diplomacy and all. I'll say this: people who propagate this trash ought to be lined up against a wall, and shot! Yeah, you read that right; they ought to be lined up against a wall, and shot for committing crimes against humanity. I am 100% serious about that; shoot, I'd like to pull the trigger myself! That won't happen, but a man can fantasize, can't he?

Oh, I know that they (the feminists & their ilk) didn't do what Hitler, Stalin, and other genocidal maniacs throughout history have done; that was too crude for these people. No, what they did was spew fallacious, poisonous ideas. As a result of spewing forth inimical ideas such as this, untold millions of babies have been aborted; countless families broken apart; poisoned relations between men & women, turning them into competitors rather than companions; finally, thanks to people like this professor, many women will seek fulfillment via other avenues than those that work, dooming these women, not to mention their nations, to extinction-the logical BYPRODUCT when folks fail to reproduce in sufficient numbers. Thanks to poisoning the well both men & women drink from, untold MILLIONS of lives have been wrecked! Everyone is affected too-men, women, and children. I know I certainly have my scars from a war between the sexes for which I neither clamored or volunteered. If those acts do not constitute crimes against humanity, I don't know what does! If anything, lining 'em up & shooting them would be too good for these... I'm going to sign off now, before I say something REALLY bad! Good night...

MarkyMark