Feminist housewives

Choosing to stay home to raise my children is the most empowering choice I’ve ever made.

It wasn’t something I fell into or felt forced into by my husband, my church or my guilt. I wanted to stay home to be a full-time mother to my children. I did not want someone else raising them for me.

So, I walked away from a career I loved as a journalist. I remember a male boss at the time telling me I would be back in six months, tops. I wasn’t the sort of woman who could just stay at home, he said.

The comment smacked of a sense that staying home was somehow a worthy but unrealistic back-up plan to a career. It’s a sentiment I have felt from lots of different sources since becoming a mom. Sometimes I am even the one to perpetuate that myth when I hear myself tell other working moms that I am “just” a stay-at-home mom —like raising my children is no big deal and definitely not as impressive or important as a career that brings home a paycheck.

So I was so happy to read this article in “New York Magazine” last week about feminists who are having it all by choosing to stay home with their kids.

Rather than being at odds with feminism, the movement to stay at home and raise children rather than pursue full-time careers is a truly feminist act. Moms are taking control of their lives and doing what they think is best for their children. If that’s working a traditional job, fine. But if it means staying home to be a full-time, deliberate mother, then that’s every bit as empowered and conscious of a choice.

“Home, to these women, is more than a place to watch TV at the end of the day and motherhood more than a partial identity. It is a demanding, full-time endeavor, requiring all of their creativity, energy, and ingenuity. …” the article says. “By making domesticity her career, she and the other stay-at-home mothers she knows are standing up for values, such as patience, and kindness, and respectful attention to the needs of others, that have little currency in the world of work. Professional status is not the only sign of importance, she says, and financial independence is not the only measure of success.”

I love that motherhood is becoming more of a respectable, admirable life choice.

Some days I love being a stay-at-home mom. Some days I hate it. Sometimes I battle with jealousy that my husband leaves every morning to a job where he has adult conversations and receives accolades for hard work. Other times, I feel sorry that he doesn’t know what it feels like to have a kindergartener run at you at full speed off the bus with a hug that’s been waiting all day.

But good days or bad days, this is who I am at this stage of my life. I am a full-time mom. And it’s the best choice I’ve ever made.

5 comments

  1. John Charity Spring

    Stewart should be commended for doing what is right, rather than what is popular. If more mothers would do the same, society would be much better off.

    Studies confirm that the vast majority of working mothers are not working to provide necessesities, they are working to obtain luxuries. Indeed, they are seeking bigger homes,fancier cars, and the latest electronic gadgets. How sad that they are willing to put their children at risk in order to pursue material goods.

    I will never forget talking to a local prosecutor about his caseload in juvenile court. He told me that a great part of his caseload was made up of sex offenses committed by one juvenile against another. When I asked him where these juvenile perpetrators learned about these perverted sex acts in the first place, he said that the majority of them learned these things from other kids in daycare.

    As a society, we can no longer ignore the fact that kids raised in daycare place huge burdens on all of us. It is simply not fair for society to suffer from increased rates of crime, substance abuse, and immorality so that working mothers can pursue a few extra luxury items.

  2. Momof7

    I actually do agree that daycare can be a dangerous place to send our children. I would not send my child to a daycare facility unless circumstances made it absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, many people are in those circumstances where it is necessary. When that is the case, I completely believe that our Heavenly Father will step in and help us raise our children. He will protect them from the evils that they are exposed to if we ask him in faith, and do our best to counteract those influences.

  3. Cat

    I always thought that a feminist was a woman who chose her own path in life and didn’t let others choose for her. She is the one who is trying to do what is best for her life and her situation regardless of other’s opinions.

    JCS – I would love to see these studies of which you speak. In my own experience, I and other working mothers are often the sole support for our families. My husband was unemployed for about a year and then not fully employed for several years after that. It was a very good thing that I had a job. I and others that I know drive 10+ year old cars, live in nice but certainly not fancy homes and while we have a few electronic gadgets, we don’t always have the latest and greatest.

    As for Juvenile sec offenders, I’m sorry but your information is wrong. The vast majority of sex offenders (adult and juvenile) learn from family members that offend on them. It is rare (but highly publicized) that a stranger will offend against a child. I would say that the vast majority of the kids that your prosecutor friend had to deal with, probably were abused by some family member (most likely male). The good thing about juvenile offenders is that if they are caught young and get into a counselling program 90% or better will not reoffend.

  4. Kate Nelson

    @john charity spring… And what about the mothers who are working to keep a roof over their child’s head? Or works to help feed their family? Yet again I am amazed at your complete lack of sensitivity. Working moms are capable of raising happy, healthy, productive kids, just as stay at home moms can raise “juvenile delinquents.”

  5. bob Andersen

    Erin, do I dare say ‘let the real feminist stand up’? If all I am allowed to do as a man is say ‘thank you’, then let it be said. Thank you.

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