Kirsten Andersen

kirsten@politicalusa.com



 

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In  Defense of Motherhood
M
ore wannabe housewives than HBO would have us think

By Kirsten Andersen
kirsten@politicalusa.com

2/13/2001

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I've been thinking a lot recently about what I want to do with the rest of my life.  I'm at an age where everything seems to take on far too much meaning.  A promotion at work could be the beginning of a career, not just a job.  A first date could turn into a relationship could turn into a lifelong commitment.  The townhouse I'm looking at buying could be the place where I live--alone with six cats--for the rest of my natural life.

Okay, maybe I'm overreacting a little.  But I can't be the only one thinking, "Is this all there is?"  If you listen to popular media these days, I am living the ideal life.  I am a young, single, professional woman in a big city full of other young, single professionals.  I have no commitments, no ties, and no responsibilities other than getting to work on time and paying the rent.  Just add a ridiculous looking flower on my sweater and a much more interesting sex life, and I might as well be Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City.

Society is telling me that life is good.  My aspirations should be no higher than obtaining the newest Manolo Blahnik heels and a Prada handbag.  Get these material things, the world says, and happiness will be yours.

I took them at their word…I went to Saks, handed over my credit card, and practically bought the place out.  I've been living a fairly selfish, materialistic life for some time now, and you know what?  I really don't feel any better.  In fact, my killer shoes are killing my feet, and my designer wallet sure doesn't have much cash left in it.

If society says I've reached the zenith of this life, and I personally feel like something is missing, then what is wrong with me?  Can't I just enjoy my freedom and my VISA card without overanalyzing the situation?

Of course I can't.  What I want, and what I think most women want but are too afraid to say it, is a family of my own--a family where I am the adult and someone else gets to be the child for a change.  For as much as I've enjoyed and continue to enjoy my time as a spoiled brat, I believe I have something much more to offer the world than my take-home salary.  I want to-dare I say it?-get married and have children.  And when my babies are born, I want to leave my sixth-floor office and stay home with them until they're grown.

When was the last time you heard an educated, enlightened young woman say something like that (aloud)?  1955, right?  Wrong.  Wannabe housewives are far more prevalent than HBO would have us think.  The problem is that feminist groups like NOW and popular culture have for so long battered the image of the homemaker that she now stands as an object of ridicule, rather than the symbol of dedication she should be.  Women are ashamed to admit that they want to stay home with their kids, because staying home is a sign of weakness, incompetence, or even laziness in today's world.

Now more than ever, I believe we need to challenge those ideas.  Mothers who actually mother their children are too few, but there are many who do persevere in the face of disrespect and derision.  They do so at great financial and social expense.  Many of these women lose touch with their 'work friends' and business contacts.  They make do for an entire family with only one salary, which is both more difficult and more honorable than living a materialistic and spoiled lifestyle while trying to instill values in young children.

Not all women should stay home with their kids.  In a perfect world, they would, but we have come to a point in time where women can make their own decisions for better or worse.  However, no woman who chooses to stay home with her babies should ever be an object of contempt or scorn.  Women who are truly for 'women's liberation' should wholeheartedly support any decision a woman makes, as long as it is her own, right?  In the face of mounting evidence that children who are raised at home have better mental and emotional development than children raised by nannies or in daycare centers, we must all be supportive of women who sacrifice the financial stability and social acceptance of the workplace to go home and be with their kids.

For those of you who are considering at-home motherhood (even if you are too afraid to admit it), I encourage you to visit the following websites to learn more about moms who stay home and the kids they benefit.  Actually, I encourage everyone to visit these sites.  These are just a few of the many sites that contain a wealth of information about the wonderful effect mothers have on our world.

www.mah.org (Mothers at Home)
www.mommytips.com (tips and support for moms who stay home)
www.momsnetwork.com (online network of work-athome and stay-at-home moms)

Buy Books 


The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued
by Ann Crittenden



History of the Wife
by Marilyn Yalom



Killer Woman Blues: Why Americans Can't Think Straight About Gender and Power
by Benjamin Demott



Her Way : Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution
by Paula Kamen

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© Kirsten Andersen, 2001

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