Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Stay-At-Home Motherhood as a Feminist Act

I recently picked up the Sept.-Oct. 2014 issue of Home Education Magazine. In it, Kate Fridkis writes about giving up her full-time career to take on part-time work and be a stay-at-home mom to her young daughter. She struggled with the type of role-model she would be to her daughter and how this decision related to her being a feminist.

Being available to your child is a big, radical deal, especially in a time when people dismiss its importance. It requires huge bravery and enormous dedication and oceans of patience and a galloping sense of humor . . . it's up to me, in the end, as it's always up to each of us to take charge of the conversation and educate my career-oriented friends about my choices and what they really look like. . . .Instead of saying, 'I have to keep up my career, if only for my daughter's sake,' I'm experimenting with saying, 'I have to be proud of my choices, if only for my daughter's sake.' Because that is how you model feminism. That is how it works.

When I was young, I dreamed of having a little girl. I wanted someone to like the same stories I had enjoyed growing up and to share my love of dolls. These were silly reasons, of course, but I simply couldn't imagine life with sons. What would I possibly do with them? What would we have in common?

Then, of course, God gave me two sons, and I loved them with all of my heart, and they've broadened my horizons as I have broadened theirs. And as time went on, I was thankful that I had boys and not a girl because I could encourage them to be whatever they wanted. They would never have to struggle, as I did, with the pain of giving up a career for motherhood.

I have always tried to stay out of the mommy wars. I firmly believe every mother does the best she can and that God calls us to different lives, that these paths are revealed through prayer and our individual circumstances. God called me to be a stay-at-home mom, and then a homeschooling mom, and I try every day to be the best mom I can be. Mind you, some days are definitely better than others.

Thanks to the internet, I've had the opportunity to work part-time for which I am incredibly thankful. Yet, there are still days, especially ones in which no paid work is to be found, that being a stay at home mom hurts. Even though I can't imagine turning over the primary care of my children to someone else and am extremely thankful that I am able to be with them, it is hard to sacrifice my dreams, intellect, and gifts for my children. It is a sacrifice God has asked me to make. Fourteen years into the process, I'm still working on gracefully making that sacrifice, on using my gifts the way He sees fit, in the opportunities that He gives me. No doubt many mothers who work outside the home struggle with sacrificing spending time with their children. No matter what anyone might say, mothers cannot have it all. In the years in which we are raising our children, something always has to give.

And then, a little over four years ago, God gave me a little girl, and I wondered how I would ever be a good mother to her. How could I be a good role model?  What would she learn from me about how to be a woman? Could I encourage her to pursue her dreams, knowing in the end, if God calls her to motherhood, she might have to give them up?

I truly struggled with this, but then, in time, I realized that deep down, I wanted the same thing for my little girl that I wanted for my sons - I want them all to be the people God made them to be. I pray for that every day. I don't know what the future holds for any of them, but I can encourage all of them to pray and discern and explore. I can do the best I can with this day to give them the best lives I can provide. I can trust that God has a plan for them and that His plan is infinitely better than my plan. I can trust that if they live the lives God calls them to, they will be successful in the only eyes that truly matter.


2 comments:

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Thank you, Patrice, for sharing the struggle with us.

Currently, my children are grown, and I continue to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, because my legally blind son needs transportation sporadically, my second-to-youngest needs the car to pursue his career aspirations, and I like to have dinner for my husband when he gets home, to help him to be able to keep working his stressful job as long as possible, because my husband can make so much more than I could if I were to work a job. But I struggle with identity and with the "should's" and "could's". I "should" work. We "could" use the extra money. I'm not homeschooling anymore. My children are grown (22 and up), and here I am. And yet, I feel it's right for me for this season in my life. It may not be for long but for now it is right. What you shared is in entirely different circumstances...yet it helps me. Thank you for sharing.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Thank you for your comment. Glad to be of help. It is very true that we women are often caretakers throughout our lives in a variety of circumstances.

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