I read this article in The Atlantic recently and recommend it for those who find themselves caught between paradigms (or at least between neat categories of mothering-type). A friend also suggested this book, written in response to the book Opting Out about Ivy-League gals who plan to take time off to be home with little ones, which I hope to read at some point in the summer. It seems that motherhood should unite women through all the commonalities of the experience, but women are easily divided by categories and titles of competition. Why is this? Who benefits from our divisions? Why do we allow this to go on? Why do we participate in the process and antagonize one another?
I am not working a typical job while my child and/or future children are young. Some women seem to view this as disloyalty to all the hard work that our predecessors have done. We’ve worked so hard to gain access to positions of authority, and I am abandoning ship. Every now and then I’ll hear, “So you’re really not doing anything?” I’m one of the countless women seeking to stay connected to my vocation in meaningful ways but also working to be fully present in the fleeting days of early childhood. I’m keenly aware of my limited energy and want to use it well and for people who matter greatly to me.
There’s some questioning from the moms who do not spend any time away from their children at all. I’ve heard things like, “You’re home part-time, right?” There’s a lot of judgment, and often it is backed by some pretty fierce emotions. Full-time mom, part-time mom, weekend-mom, stay-at-home mom, day-care mom. I’m guilty of playing into this categorizing game, too. But again, I ask, whom does this game benefit? What does it mean and what does it look like to be fully woman, fully mother, and to reconcile the many parts of us?
I have never found it easy to juggle multiple responsibilities, and adding motherhood to the mix then helped me prioritize what to drop. I have often wondered in these 27 months if some of my sisters really believe that being a fully free, strong, feminist woman actually just means to act like a caricature of a man. Is a new wave of feminism moving beyond the strict, limited, almost fearful drive for work and power and success? To expand on the previous generation’s work, we are asking questions about what it means to be a woman, what it means to settle fully into our mothering skin, and to figure out vocation from a centered place of identity. To put this in context for my own reflection, the questions of feminism should not be driven by workplace equality and competition but by looking to a Divine image of who we were created to be and how we have been formed in our inmost being. Everything else should move from that center.