Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fulfillment at home?

I've recently joined a Catholic homeschool moms' Bible study (can you say 'subset of a subset,' Gentle Reader?). One of the questions we discussed at our last meeting was the question of fulfillment. It was assumed, with reason, that none of us are really struggling with the issue of returning to or getting a career. Why do we feel fulfilled at home and other women don't?
I, in my usual thoughtful, quiet manner blurted out, "They've bought into society's lie."
Which "lie" do I mean? The one that tells you "Any idiot can take care of kids/keep house/cook meals. Real jobs involve getting out of your house away from all that."
Snarky answer #1: Tell that to daycare workers, employed maids, and restaurant cooks. They'll LOVE you.
Snarky answer #2: Which of those would YOU hire an idiot to do?

Seriously, that's the mindset. If you doubt me, check into your local high school's child care courses--should they exist; I think most are getting channeled into the "alternative education" programs. You won't see that many honor roll girls; you'll see ones two steps from dropping out either looking for an easy diploma or tracked in there by low-expectation guidance counselors.
[While I'm off on a tangent, I'll say another thing: this is NOT intended as a diatribe against mothers working outside the home (woths). You ladies deal with enough; you have as many expectations at home as I do and fewer hours to do them. This is a diatribe against our society that lies to you. I was one of you for a year and a half--possibly the most miserable year and a half of my married life, with the exception of summer break.]

So. Back to fulfillment. Do I find it in washing dishes, or changing diapers, or vacuuming, or making beds, or doing laundry? ARE YOU NUTS? Honestly, there are moments any one of those makes me want to give myself the Egyptian brain treatment.
What keeps me sane while doing them? The fact that they are important. If I don't perform these tasks, who will? Thus, my work is important. More important than other kids' report cards or academic records. More important than someone else's legal problems or advertising slogans. More important than a master's degree or, much as it pains me to say it, seeing Notre-Dame cathedral again.
That's the lie. Telling women, specifically mothers, that the work they do in the home is unimportant and therefore unfulfilling. When it's unimportant, it doesn't matter whether it gets done or not, right? Or if it does get done, it doesn't matter who does it.
Who will play with the child while changing a diaper? Who will listen to and answer the zillionth question while scraping the breakfast dishes? Who will do all the voices to Goldilocks and the Three Bears?
Sure, you can hire those out. But are those things you want done for love... or money?

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At 6:22 AM, Anonymous Matthew Siekierski said...

I'm reminded of a scene from Mona Lisa Smile. In the movie, Julia Roberts' character is constantly trying to "empower" the girls she's teaching, to get them to be more than "just housewives".

Anyhow, here's a snippet of the dialog, one that, quite frankly, surprised me to see in a Hollywood production:

Joan Brandwyn: It was my choice... not to go. He would have supported it.
Katherine Watson: But you don't have to choose.
Joan Brandwyn: No, I have to. I want a home; I want a family, that's not something I'll sacrifice.
Katherine Watson: No-one's asking you to sacrifice that, Joan, I just want you to understand you can do both.
Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I'm afraid that you will.
Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I'm doing and it doesn't make me any less smart.
[Katherine looks down]
Joan Brandwyn: This must seem terrible to you.
Katherine Watson: I didn't say that.
Joan Brandwyn: Sure you did. You always do. You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don't. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You're the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.
Katherine Watson: [hugs Joan] Congratulations. Be happy.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Milehimama said...

It is always interesting to me, that if I said I was a kindergarten teacher, people would say "How wonderful that you work with children". If I told them that I quit my job because my mother has cancer and I am going to take care of her full time, they would nominate me for sainthood. Take care of your own children? They'll immediately "dumb down" their conversation and/or tell me that Target's hiring (as though the only reason I stay home is that I can't get a job).

Try it sometime - people as what you do, instead of "SAHM" say, "I take care of a family member who can't dress themselves".

Mama Says

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Joy said...

Your comments about the things in life that are supposed to bring us fulfillment—the challenging job, more education, travel—reminded me of a recent letter to the editor in our daily newspaper. A woman talked about a decision that she made earlier in her life that enabled her to do all these things. She felt that it made her a better person, and in turn a better mother. Do you care to take a guess about what that decision was? Yep, she decided to kill her unborn child.

I wonder if society’s lie, taken to its logical conclusion, leads us to abortion.

At 10:37 AM, Blogger Daisy said...

As someone currently stuck between the two worlds of "working woman" and "sahm," it is a big, fat, lie and everyone spews it. Especially when they find out that my job is only until the bills can be paid without it. They think I'll be so bored at home, but I'm more bored at work, even though I move or do something every minute that I'm there, than I ever am at home. Give me laundry, cleaning, and even dishes (we also don't have an automatic) over the drudgery of working on someone else's schedule and being away from my munchkins.

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Sarah said...

It took me awhile to just say "I am a stay-at-home mom," period, and not add- "but I used to be an engineer. I have a Master's, you know." My job did not make me who I am, but my vocation as a wife and mother does. If and when I rejoin the workforce someday I am going to try and remember that- I don't want my job to define who I am.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10:21 PM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...

The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...
It just occured to me that I don't think of Homeschool Moms as Stay At Home Moms.

I started to post my thoughts here but they got way out of control so I'll just link to my blog, as that is what my rant turned big blog post! LOL


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