Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The professional homemaker

Today's more liberal brands of feminism are trying to convince us that they are not anti-family; that "being a wife and mother is an option like any other for today's women", and therefore, as they cheerfully point out, a woman can be a wife and mother, or a doctor, or a scientist, or an engineer – and all of these options are equally valid, and equally worth of protection by those who are concerned about women's rights and liberation.

The problem? Most women will want to get married and have children – even those who have ambitious professionalism drilled into their heads from a young age. The desire to be a wife, mother and homemaker is so overwhelmingly strong that no modern waves can stamp it out of women. What we have been, tragically, sold, is the myth that we can delay marriage and motherhood for as long as we want, and juggle it with any type of career.

Of course, this kind of thinking led to a tragedy for an entire generation of women, who remain single after they realized – too late – that they should have boarded the train earlier. Others are struggling with fertility treatments, clinging onto the slim hope of ever having a child. We have way too many celebrated stories in the press about women who became mothers well past their 40-th birthday, and too few presentations of how often fertility treatments actually fail for older women, statistically speaking.

I'm not saying that marrying late, never marrying or never having children is something that didn't happen in the past. Surely, there was always a small number of older singles. But in the past decades, it has become commonplace, too commonplace – women are told to get busy chasing degrees and careers, to do things that are "worthwhile"… which, coincidentally, are not the things that we are wired to be truly happy and content with.

The result is that we are always in an inner conflict, always anxious as to whether we are truly doing what we are supposed to be doing, wondering whether we are spending enough time with our husbands and children vs. professional "investments". Whether we won't come to regret, in a few years, the choices we made.

I have noticed that the attitude of men and women towards work is drastically different, in the more educated/ambitious circles. Men usually talk about good jobs with good prospects that will enable them to take care of their families. Women talk much more often about doing something "interesting", about fulfillment and personal growth. Some say, "I would love to stay home now that my children are little, but I must think about my future." Future – translated as the years when the children are older, when supposedly being a homemaker is not justified. I'd rephrase and say, "I need to stay home now, because I must think about my future." What do I want to have in my future? Heaps of student debt? A blur of years I struggle through, exhausted? Or happy, well-adjusted children who are used to the comforting presence of their mother at home?

I have heard 30-year-old women debating about whether they should dedicate their next five years to doing a PhD, or to having and raising another child. They fully realize that later, whatever they choose, it might be too late for the other option. Whenever I have the chance, I say, "you will never regret the time you spend mothering your children."

I don't think I can ever refer to myself as a "professional" homemaker, because my desire to have a good family and an orderly, peaceful home is so much more than the wish to have a career. It's simply the deepest desire of my heart.


Jodi said...

Excellent post.

I realize many may disagree with me, but I feel it's possible to get a college degree (or whatever form of education) later in life, but it's not always possible to have children later in life. It's sad to say this, perhaps, but we are limited to our own biology.

Michelle said...

Anna, as always I love your post.

You know something perhaps unrelated but your post made me think about it, is how women in the workplace is effecting our men.

My husband walked around to van to open my door for me, and it struck him as odd that he has such conflicting feelings about the women in his life.

I'm a full-time stay at home, homeschooling mother of 7. He see's one type of woman in me. But when he goes to work, he's faced with these career minded women, that are demanding and loud. His boss is a woman and she has amply squashed out any desire he may have ever had to treat her as the respected weaker sex. I wonder if her husband has this problem also?

Anyhow, I'm glad that my husband values my position in the home. I pray that I will be worthy of the honor it is to keep the home for my family.


Analytical Adam said...

Hi Mrs. Anna:

This propaganda of course has hurt us men as many have no interest in getting married as I am a victim of.

Although I do have to say it seems while many women do want to have children and be a mother in terms of be a wife sad to say a lot of women today have closer relationship with a male Rabbi or some other man that sad to say they really don't want a relationship with a man and just want a token husband that will do whatever a Rabbi says. I see many profiles on web sites which show women have no interest in a relationship with a husband. This is why I am annoyed at many of the Rabbi's as I really feel they are undermining men and I don't want to be personal here.

Career? What about when a woman is older. Having children is a big help and you have to turn ot the government because you have no children to help take care of you if you need it.

The other thing I wanted to say is degree's past a certain point have a bachelor's degree are overrated. In the US you are not a allowed to look at high school transcript which sadly has the effect of hurting those who for whatever reason have to drop out but had good grades. The only area degree's are most important are gov't jobs where for certain classification and sadly in gov't common sense experience means less. In the private sector experience and other factors many times play a bigger role then a degree. In college many of the professor's are on TENURE IN THE US sadly and therefore they can never lose their job and some women therefore have this overly romantic view of jobs although most jobs you can lose.

I see a lot of Jewish girls today can't relate to men other then some male leaders and they just overly stick together. I think the problem is much greater as many of these girls have been brainwashed that most men would abuse them which is not true and something that men are worry about as well as abuse is done by both genders and serious studies have shown this. I support Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting and growing up all family problems I saw were not just the man.

Lena said...

Its my heart desire too.

Analytical Adam said...

It is funny that the torah considers on both sides a man or woman not using sexuality for the higher as wrong.

On a man's side if he wastes his semon he becomes impure. On the female side when a woman menstrates which I think only happens when she is not pregnant or nursing she also becomes impure and this is again because we are not using what we have for it's higher purpose and for a woman to waste her childbearing years for other activities (and many times using her attraction for other purposes) is wrong and hence the impurity that you have to go to mikvah and men as well when they waster their semon. Sometimes it is impossible but this is to remind us of using what G-d gave us properly and bringing life into the world and if we can't for money reasons we should try to make the world a better place so most people do have more money.

Also, I do feel this is all true when a woman isn't being ruled by her evil inclination. It is normal for a man to want to want children as well for may reasons including selfish ones as I also wanted to have children as well.

It is not normal but I see many women who hate their own father, hate thir son own, hate their own brother, enjoy ruining a man in divorce for reasons that are absurd and not legit. This is because they are ruled by envy of the opposite sex and have been told by so called religious male leaders that they are better then men over and over again. What normal mother hates her own son or enjoys keeping them down yet I see much of this. WHen a woman is ruled by this envy she will believe anything anything about men because she can rationalize taking his role. It just really is depressing seeing how many Jewish women behave today and clearly some base jealousy which sad to say the religious world encourages and has no problem with this has created Jewish women with serious problems.

margaret said...

Consumerism has worked hard to make people, especially women, believe they can “have it all”. Contemporary feminism rides on the coat tails of this (because it’s naked beliefs are too unpalatable for most women) and as more and more girls are raised to believe in it the more normal it becomes. If someone reaches 25 with a huge student debt and a couple of credit cards maxed out on shoes, etc, “because you’re worth it” then she’s going to have to work especially as she’s also worth a certain house, a certain SUV, etc. I think that up to, say, the 1950s feminism did a lot of good and since then it’s become destructive and nasty but it’s consumerism not feminism that’s driving the phenomenon of late babies. Children have become a commodity – don’t want one? Abort it. Want one in your 50s? Pay for it. Want one when you’re 27 but Mother Nature says no? Fertilise six in a petri dish, implant two, donate four to science. I’ve never even remotely wanted to get married and have children (and I even open doors for men) but when I see what some women do in the name of motherhood it chills my blood.

Where My Treasure Is said...

Excellent post!!
I barely got my Associates degree--I had lost all interest in furthering my education because I was so desiring to become a stay at home wife/mother. Thankfully, I finished and can at least say I have that degree, but I don't miss school for one second, nor do I feel I missed out b/c I didn't get my bachelor's. Many people keep telling me it might come back to bite me, but I believe God's role for a woman is the same as it's always been. I'm a wife and a mother. And I wouldn't change that for all the degrees, prestige and power in the world!

Wordy Wife said...

Sometimes I see criticism directed at those who have married young and had children young. But then you see older singles who are desperately trying to find a partner, or older couples who are struggling with their fertility. It's all about priorities.

abenakimotherhood said...

Hi Anna,

Hope you are all doing well. I agree with you that a woman's home and family is the most important part of our lives. In my culture, women have higher status because we are "life givers" or mothers. We are considered a perfect creation that men have to aspire to through chosen sacrifice. Our roles from men are very different, but VERY respected and highly regarded. I am so grateful for the traditions of my people, and for allowing me to be what I was created to be. Nimziwi.

Gothelittle Rose said...

I'm sorry, margaret, don't mean to nitpick at your post, but 27... isn't usually the 'age of infertility' unless there's something physically wrong with the woman.

I had my first child at age 25 and my second at age 32, and expect to have a third before I'm done, preferably around age 33-34 (still nursing near exclusively). My mother, at age 27, had just birthed the third of her five children.

Fertility begins to fall off after age 35, as the chance of complications rise. Of course, women who try to become established in a career first end up trying to get pregnant at 38-42, and there are a lot of problems with that.

But probably not 27. :)

Amanda said...

I completely agree with this post. I tell people all the time that I am at home with my son right now because I figure I can go back to work any day. I can work from age 45-65 comfortably, but I cannot bear children past age 45 (at least I assume I'd hit menopause somewhere in there, lol!). I became pregnant earlier than expected (by 3 years at least) and so now my son is here, whether planned or not. He won't pause as a baby for me to pursue a career, he'll keep growing whether I am watching or not.

Nope, for me I'm content and blessed to be at home with my baby now and can pursue more education, career, travel, or simply spend time with my husband when we are comfortable in our middle age.