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workin girl

the other day, my brother-in-law looked at me and said something to the effect of “wow, here you are–a master’s educated woman–and yet you spend the majority of your time doing stupid stuff to make your baby laugh”.

yeah, pretty much.

i mean, wouldn’t you?

but seriously, having a baby does open up a whole can of worms when it comes to being an educated female. and as much as i loathe certain aspects of feminism, i do believe that men and women are both created equal in the image of God. and i believe the church has erred more often than not on stressing parts of scripture that focus on “headship” and “leadership” which has led to many abuses, both big and small, of women.

that is a different rant for a different day, however.

what i want to think about today is the whole stay-at-home mom vs. the working mom debate. i find myself in a strange and wonderful place: the middle. i only work one day a week (for now, i would love to get maybe one more 6 hour a week class), which makes me feel validated for the thousands and thousands of dollars i shelled out (not to mention all the homework, boring classes, teaching internships, insufferable group projects and the like that i suffered through), and it also confirms that i have skills and assets to offer the wider world.

but one day a week is enough to make me miss the ramona baby and all the busy monotony of being the mom of an infant. and so for the rest of the six days a week i feel grateful for the chance to stay home.

i don’t know too many other people in this situation, and right now especially i seem to be surrounded by a sea of people who seem content to be stay-at-home moms. and to them i say wholeheartedly: good for you. to be a SAHM (going for the abbreviation here) takes a certain amount of financial budgeting and do-without-ness that i think is admirable and a great foundation for boycotting the general ideology of the american dream.

but i also respect women (although i don’t seem to know as many) who choose to go back to work because they know they are valuable and have skills that can help change the world. i think this scenario has benefits for allowing the husband to become a more involved parent, and speaks to a more cross-cultural ideology that it truly takes a village (or lots of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors) to raise a baby. the current demands on a SAHM are ludicrous (keep a perfect house, cook amazing organic meals, do all the errands, please your husband, and raise a smart and polite kid), and underneath it all is the notion that a SAHM doesn’t need any help. what an isolating, frustrating assumption.

i was listening to fresh air the other day and it was talking about the cultural implications of The Feminine Mystique and i thought it was fascinating. i myself haven’t read the book, but i appreciated listening to the thoughts of women who read it in the 1960s and were profoundly changed by the message. many, many women resonated with the ideas in the books regarding their own sense of unfulfilment. these women had bought into the idea that marriage, a large house in the suburbs, and healthy kids is a guarantee of happiness. in reality, these first desperate housewives (most of them women who through marriage and the aftermath of WWII found themselves in the middle class for the first time) found themselves deeply unhappy. For many, this unhappiness seemed to be a result of not being a member of the productive working class. This eventually led to a boom in women returning to the workforce and led to many breakthroughs, including women asking to receive equal rights and pay.

i also thought the critiques of the book were interesting. many people have pointed out that Friedan (the author) only focused on the troubles of wealthy white women. Fresh Air pointed out that many African-American and immigrant women have a proud history of working and raising a family at the same time. it is only in recent history that many women have even had a choice of whether they could be a SAHM or not.

i know this is a rambly post, and i don’t have a real conclusion. it does help me to know that when i am fresh out of silly songs or weird facial expression to please the ramona baby, that i have fridays to look forward to (although, in reality, i teach literacy for ESOL students, which does involve a lot of pantomiming, singing the ABC song, and making weird facial gestures to help letter-sound awareness and pronunciation).

this is the balance i have right now, and i am loving it.

what about you?

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5 responses

  1. Hannah

    What an honest and insightful summary of the challenges & joys of working and motherhood. It is something I worry about for the future… It is encouraging to know that balancing the two is possible and can be rewarding. LOVE YA!

    February 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm

  2. Logan Godsiff

    Dear Danielle and Krispin,
    Your baby looks AWESOME!!!!!
    Love, Logan

    February 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm

  3. Ashley

    yes, but as valid as the arguments are that critique the feminine mystique, it helped ignite a revolution that is making it okay for women to choose whatever it is they want to do, whatever works for them. back in the days before the FM, your choice to work one day a week might be looked down upon. i think it’s amazing that now we get to choose. awesome post. you’re great!

    February 22, 2011 at 4:37 am

    • so true. i also forgot to mention that rich white women legitimately had real unhappiness, and that this should not be discredited. as always, i am trying to remember that more stuff (and professional success, too) does not equal happiness.

      February 22, 2011 at 5:13 am

  4. Ashley

    they absolutely did, and it absolutely did exclude a lot of women’s plight, but it was what she knew. and you’re right, happiness is not dependent on the superficial b.s. ramona=happiness though. so does the fact that we have our blogs to speak our herstory (bwhahaha…i hate that phrase, but i thought i’d get uber-feminist all up in your grill).

    February 23, 2011 at 6:07 am

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