"I do want to be a wife and a mother someday, but I don't want that to define me. Why should it be wrong for me to want to become a physician as well, to possibly aid women in childbirth, or to save lives in an emergency room? I was also wondering what your thoughts were on women who have changed the face of the world, such as Mother Theresa (who never married or had children)?"
Dear reader, thank you for taking the time to reply. I always love getting response such as yours, which helps me clarify my position. By the way, the same goes for my faith: I feel challenged and inspired when my faith is questioned and I am then motivated to learn even more.
I think that, from reading a bit on my blog, it's clear to you that I have no doubt whatsoever about the women's intelligence, talent, and capability which can enable her to pursue a variety of occupations. So, the discussion here is not about 'what a woman can do' but rather, 'what's the right thing to do'. And also, not 'should a woman pursue her talents', but rather, 'how should a woman pursue her talents?'
I think that we - and I include myself in this, as well - have been conditioned to think that only office and paycheck mean we're doing something important. Only college means we get good education. Only... well, you see my point? But if we think outside the box, there are countless ways a woman can express her talents at home. Teaching her own children is the most obvious one I guess!
I choose to be a homemaker and focus on my family - God willing, I will have a family - and I feel that my knowledge in medicine, nutrition, psychology and everything else I studied in college will be put to good use - well actually, it is already put to good use - right here at home! I think that even if a woman is childless, she can have a beautiful and productive life as a keeper-at-home. Her talents are applicable in countless aspects of being a helpmeet to her husband and a good homemaker.
The concept of a woman being a wife and helpmeet is not some sort of oppressive tyranny meant to tie women down and limit them. And it is not something meant for the inferior and less intelligent women! Through blogging, I was blessed to 'know' many former professors, engineers and simply very talented women who made the choice to come home and are happy about it.
If a woman feels she wants to get married and have children, she takes responsibility for this, and must take care of her family. If she is a wife and mother, being many hours outside the home steals her away from her family. There's basically no way going around it. Yes, I am of the opinion that no pursuit - no matter how good, or right, or noble in itself - cannot be right if it interferes with us caring for our most precious ones.
I will share with you one quote a reader sent me: "To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute."--G. K. Chesterton in What's Wrong with the World
You mention mother Theresa; yet just like you said, she was unmarried, and thus didn't have this conflict of her duties to husband and children clashing with her desire to give to the rest of the world. However we look at it, the majority of women will become wives, and as such, they are taking on duties which will demand much of their time, skills and ability. Will they have time to spare for other activities? Maybe. And each woman should see how much she can give to other pursuits (in which I include work, volunteering, and different personal projects) without it steering her heart away from her family. She should be honest with herself. If she spends many, many hours away from home and sees that she cannot take proper care of her husband's needs and her household, she shouldn't brush it off as unimportant, but should consider it very carefully.