Purpose-Filled Mothers & The Modern Feminist

May 19, 2012

Last Sunday was our fist Mother’s day since we found out we would shortly become parents (Click here to see our YouTube announcement). So understandably, as I contemplate the many ways our lives will change due to the birth of our first child as well as the current changes to my wife’s body, I am humbled and honored to be married to such an amazing and selfless woman. For nearly a decade Julie has worked in the Veterinary field. Working with animals is something she not only loves, but something she if very good at. She will shortly trade her career with animals to become a full-time stay-at-home-mom. It is a trade she decided long ago she would make and one she looks forward to and welcomes.

When Julie was 15, she had an appointment with her academic counselor to discuss her academic goals and how they could be aligned with her career goals. Based on Julie’s description, this counselor perfectly encapsulated a liberal’s ideal blend of academics and modern feminism. A woman who heroically escaped the traditional and limiting roles of marriage and children so she could dedicate herself to molding the minds of the future and likewise save women from such burdens and misfortune. The counselor asked her the typical questions you would expect in such a situation.

“So, Julie, what interests you? What do you want to be when you grow up?”

While young Julie understood the value of having goals as well as back-up plans she succumbed to her teenage desire to be bold and a bit rebellious.

“I want to have kids and be a mom.”

“But what to you want to do to make money? For your career?”

“I want to be a stay-at-home mom. My husband can work and make money.”

I almost get giddy as I imagine the horror Julie’s response produced within her counselor. Try as she might, teenagers are a stubborn breed, and the counselor was not able to save my future wife from a life looked down upon with disdain by the modern feminist and their session ended in mutual frustration.

While I find this confrontation amusing, I am concerned that modern feminists like Julie’s high school counselor have become more vocal and socially accepted than ever. Women like Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen who last month criticized stay-at-home mother of 5 Ann Romney for expressing concern and opinions on economic issues because she had “never worked a day in her life”. While Hilary Rosen’s comments were publicly denounced by Obama and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, looking deeper reveals that such disdain for traditional family values and stay-at-home moms is a sentiment deeply rooted amongst liberals and that apologies and denouncements were nothing more than political and strategic damage control. Hilary Rosen isn’t someone who snuck her way in front of a camera who’s lack of experience drove her to make such a tactless statement. Quite the opposite. Rosen is a PR expert hired as a communications consultant by the DNC to coach Chairwoman Wasserman (who remember condemned Rosen’s comments) on media appearances. Since Obama has been in office Rosen has visited the White House 35 times, 5 of which she met personally with Obama. Michelle Malkin did a great job detailing the history of stay-at-home-mom vitriol by liberal woman including Hilary Clinton and Teresa Heinz-Kerry showing us that Rosen’s perspective on stay-at-home moms and traditional roles are as welcome and accepted amongst the inner circles of liberal politics as she is.

Modern feminists often disguise their efforts to diminish and devalue the role, significance, and worthiness of motherhood by masking their campaign as an effort to empower women or as concern for their well-being. A recent article, for example, cited a study that shows “stay-at-home moms are more likely to have felt depression, sadness, anger and worry.” My immediate thought is that if the goal is to avoid an increase of those feelings at all costs, why have kids to begin with? That is the increasingly adopted attitude promoted by these enlightened “me”-based studies. I found it telling that this article about motherhood & women seeking purpose mentions nothing of the purpose or fulfillment of motherhood itself.

The article advices stay-at-home-moms who clearly don’t have enough purpose or value in their current role to find a job outside of the home and that “if, for a period of time it’s not in the cards to have a job, find a purpose.” I image a stay-at-home mom holding an infant in her arms with a toddler playing on the floor looking around the room thinking, “where can I find purpose”. Really?! Obviously balance is healthy, but again, the article mentions nothing of the purpose and fulfillment of motherhood itself.

In a truly enlightened article, Julie B. Beck instead focuses on the priceless and irreplaceable (day care, or otherwise) role of mothers who “do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting.” Instead of belittling stay-at-home-moms by suggesting they must seek for a real (or more fulfilling) purpose, Beck praises mothers who “are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most.”

Obviously circumstances differ and adjustments and exceptions are sometimes unavoidable. However I share Thomas Sowell’s sentiment (below) that the need for both parents to work is often manufactured for the sake of economics wants and are a reflection of priorities.

One of the biggest excuses for lax parenting is that both parents “have to” work, in order to “make ends meet.” Yet, within living memory, it was common in working-class families – black and white – for the husband to work and the wife to stay home to raise the children. Why didn’t both parents have to work then, in order to make ends meet? Were people so much richer then? On the contrary, they were much poorer. Today’s families living in poverty have things that average Americans could not afford then.

If people in those days had lived the way we live today, of course it would have taken both parents to make ends meet. They would probably have had to put the children to work too. People make choices and have their own priorities – and adults take responsibilities for their choices and priorities. It is a cop-out to say that they are “forced” to have two-income families just “to make ends meet.”

I am eternally grateful for mothers who do their very best to be stay-at-home moms and understand that the role a mother plays in the life of their child cannot be effectively delegated. I pray that moms never forget that their selflessness and sacrifice in motherhood, and the added emotional strain that comes with it, is infinitely more valuable and thus holds greater purpose than any paycheck with a set dollar amount.