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Why Modern Motherhood is So Much Harder than it Ought to Be

All around me, young mothers are stretched, and stressed, and struggling. Mommy burnout is rampant. And while, I’m sure that to some extent, it’s always been hard to manage a house full of young children, I also have a sneaking suspicion that it’s worse today, that the women of modern generations face handicaps our foremothers didn’t have to.

There was a time in the not too distant past when families worked together toward common goals. The day began with Pa and the boys doing the chores while Ma and the girls got breakfast. Everyone ate together, and then the men folk went to work in the fields or the shop downstairs, while the ladies set about the baking, or washing, or gardening, or whatever else was needed that day. The family was all together again for the midday meal before heading off to their afternoon’s work, divided only by gender lines, and then it was back together again for the evening meal and a little family time before bed. Everyone grew up watching their parents train younger siblings to help with the work, and possibly did a fair amount of training and tending of little brothers and sisters themselves. Work was done together for the good of the family business, whether it was a farm or a blacksmith shop, tailor shop, or dry goods store. Society was family centered.

Enter the Industrial Revolution. Individuals left the family unit to work in factories for the good of their employers. All day long they gave their best to further the company, and at the end of the day they brought home a paycheck that enabled them to buy food and clothes and other things that families used to make for themselves. Life became individual centered, and individuals became peer focused as they spent the majority of their waking hours with co-workers rather than with family.

The result was our modern society in which fathers go off to work alone, often very early in the mornings thanks to long commutes, and get home late; children are splintered off to age-graded classrooms and activities until they reach adulthood when they take their own place in a corporation, living all day with co-workers, striving together for the good of the company.

Now suppose one of those employees is a woman. We’ll call her Jane. One day, smiling at her over the water cooler is Mr. Right. They tie the knot, and four years later (once they’ve had time “to get to know each other”), they decide to have a baby. Jane has always been a bit old fashioned, and she believes that children do best with care from their own mothers, so around her seventh month of pregnancy, she quits her job and gets ready to be a stay at home mom.

At first, it’s exciting. The baby’s on it’s way, and there’s lots to do to decorate the perfect nursery. But then one day, Jane finds herself in her pajamas at 11:00 in the morning with stringy hair and spit up down her back, trying to comfort an inconsolable baby, and wondering what happened to her life.

Fast forward four years. Things have improved slightly. Jane usually manages to get into sweats before the day gets too far along, but she’s bored and lonely, and her four year old and her two year old are constantly fighting. The living room floor is littered with toys. The laundry is never folded. And dinner was frozen pizza three nights last week. It drives Jane crazy, and she’d like to work on trying to solve some of her problems, if she could just figure out how to get a shower.

Why is it like this? I’ll admit this was a bit of a caricature, but not much. Nearly all of Jane’s woes have happened to me before, or at least I’ve heard multiple women complain about them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m not the only one. What’s going on? I blame most of it on our handicaps.

Obviously, not all women have all of the handicaps that I’m about to enumerate (I don’t), and some may even sound a little foreign, depending on each person’s background, but I think that most of us are plagued by at least a few of the following.

1. We are handicapped by our society’s (begrudging at times) acceptance of mothers at home, but total lack of acceptance of women staying home without children. “There’s nothing to do,” the conventional wisdom goes, as if cooking, shopping, and laundry are so incidental as to fit nicely into cracks. The result of this is that, just like Jane in my story, most women don’t come home full time until they become mothers. What few of us take into account is that coming home after spending most of your life in school or at work is a MAJOR life change. We go from almost constant people contact and interaction to hours of solitude. We go from a life in which we are able to complete many tasks (like papers, and work projects) that we will not have to do again, to a world in which we will have to do most of our tasks over, and over, and over.  We go from a world in which our work was evaluated by others, and our schedules were, at least to some extent, controlled by others, to a world in which we are almost totally responsible for our own time management, and in which we are only seeking to please our husbands and the Lord. This can be hugely bewildering. It was for me. I was very depressed for a long time when I first came home after graduating from college. It took me between one and two years to wean myself away from dependence on the constant feedback of school grades to confirm my worth.

Becoming a mother is also a MAJOR life change. The responsibility can be overwhelming at times. For the first time in our lives, another human being is completely dependent upon us for everything. This little person can’t even change his own position if he gets uncomfortable or bored. We have to completely adjust our schedules to take into account the baby’s needs, and often our own needs seem lost in the shuffle. Many women face difficulties learning to breastfeed, figuring out sleeping, and yes, even showering with a new baby to care for. Marriages are often in flux at this point, too, as relationships adjust to account for a third family member. On top of this, many of us face the postpartum hormonal roller coaster and the physical pain and exhaustion of recovering from the birth.

It is insane that our culture expects us to go through both changes at once. And yet, for many women, this is the norm. We’ve all heard of “stay at home moms.” “Stay at home wives” and “stay at home daughters” are oddities in most circles.

2. We are handicapped by our society’s norm for raising children. Most of us did not spend much time at home growing up. The majority of our hours were spent at school or in age graded sports, music, or other activities. Add to that the fact that most women came from typical 2.1 child households, and the result is we know nothing about being home all day with small children. How many of us watched our mothers cook dinner every night with babies on their hips? How many of us were assigned the job of folding laundry with our three-year-old sister? How many of us helped with potty training or spent our pre-mommy lives thinking it was normal to have conversations with six-year-olds about dinosaurs or construction equipment? We have been thrown into a demanding job we have no experience for. We don’t know how to get our household jobs done with “help.” We loose our minds having “infantile” discussions with children all day and miss our “intelligent” peers and co-workers. We don’t have the management and multitasking skills to drive the household forward, and often wind up getting dragged behind a run-away mob of runny-nosed hooligans, maybe not every day, but often enough to lead to at least minor bouts of despair.

3. We are handicapped by our society’s view of home as end of the day landing site. We don’t know how to cope with being there all day. The majority of our before children creativity is devoted to careers and school. This means that when women come home, their minds are numbed by the sheer monotony of staying all day in the place the rest of the world only resorts to when they want to watch TV, eat a quick meal, or sleep. We have no vision of our homes as productive centers of education (both for our children and ourselves), outreach, artistic expression, and even entrepreneurship.  And those of us who do catch hold of the dream, usually have no examples to follow, and have to work out what that means all by ourselves from scratch, making all the inevitable mistakes along the way.

4. We are handicapped by our society’s undervaluing of homemaking. Home skills aren’t really respected because home isn’t seen as all that important. After all, wasn’t it the family farm we all wanted to get away from so badly in the Industrial Revolution? And we can thank the feminists of the 60′s and 70′s for reminding us that any brainless, dependent leech can keep things going at home. Work is the exciting place. Now some people will concede that children do better with their own mothers than in a daycare, so it’s OK with some people if mothers stay home to care for their children, but homemaking? That’s not really necessary. We don’t have any idea of what to do at home, so many women assume that they’re just kind of there as babysitters to keep the kids from killing themselves while they play all day and trash the house. There’s nothing more boring than having no goals, no real responsibilities, and no meaningful work. If you don’t cook, so what? There’s always McDonald’s. If you don’t clean, so what? The house is a disaster, and you’re depressed about it, but you have little kids, and who can really expect anything to be different?

5. We’re handicapped by our society’s view of fatherhood as financial support and nothing more. We women are home ALONE with our children. We’re no longer part of a team. Modern men don’t live in a family centered world. Instead of working downstairs in the shop or out in our own fields, they’re across town all day in an office. They aren’t home for a midday meal. They aren’t taking the children with them to do chores, or training the boys to work alongside them.

Men no longer see children as their “job.” Consequently, women have the full responsibility for the children in many households, which means they must be working, or at least “on-call” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which translates into a 168 hour work week. Men think they’re working crazy hours when they hit 60 or 80 hours per week, but many dads still feel entitled to sit around in the evenings watching TV or surfing the web to decompress and still expect their wives to do all the parenting. Since the children aren’t their job anyway, even when they are home, many fathers don’t invest much in their children. But parenting IS the father’s job. Nearly every parenting command in the Bible is given to “fathers,” not mothers. Women are being asked to parent for two much of the time. And as anyone in the work world will tell you, doing your job AND someone else’s is exhausting.

A lot of dads (like my wonderful husband) believe that they need to parent with more than a paycheck and are making their children a priority. But they’re still stuck in the system. They’re still gone for hours. They still have to go to work alone instead of with their children. And for mothers, the lonely days can be long and hard.

So what’s the answer? Well, the best plan is to become a radical and create a Utopia. Seriously. Realize the mess our culture has made of motherhood, and make fixing it part of the micro-culture you create in your home. You may also have to put yourself through rehabilitation and physical therapy for your attitudes. And it may just be hard for a while, but at least maybe we can stop blaming ourselves for our lack of “talent,” or thinking that we aren’t cut out to be mothers and admit that we do actually have some challenges to overcome.

65 comments to Why Modern Motherhood is So Much Harder than it Ought to Be

  • Mrs. Parunak

    Mary,

    Certainly! I’d be very happy for you to link to my site. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Gosh! I just came across your article by chance today and have to say you write everything I feel.
    I had to leave a comment just to let you know I have linked to it in my sidebar.
    Thankyou :0)

  • Mrs.Araujo

    Thank you for this article. I am so blessed to be at home! Do you have any advice for women whose husbands are OK with them being at home but seriously admire and respect women with high powered careers? And “allow” them to be at home for the children but have no respect for what they are doing at all? And I don’t mean that the wife is sitting around being irresponsible all day.

  • Mrs. Parunak

    Mrs. Araujo,

    Thank you for your excellent question. I thought it was so important that I’ve given it its own post rather than let it get lost in a comment thread.

    But I Know I’m RIGHT

  • Hi there,
    I have enjoyed reading through your blog. I had a couple of questions for you and wondered if you could email me at chelseyhall@gmail.com

    Thanks! :)

    Chelsey

  • Gunhild

    Hi,
    Thank you for an interesting piece. I was drawn to it due to a posting a friend of mine put on her facebook site :-). I admire her strengths and like to see her updates to see how she is doing, and I learn from her (I should probably tell her this . . . !!).
    Parts of this piece I felt I could very much relate to, whereas others . . . not so much. I hope you will allow me to contribute by saying why. But bear with me – this baby is pretty much essay sized . . . . !!
    The importance of the home has been grossly neglected, both in the past as well as now. It does depend on the society one speaks of however (there are significant differences between Europe and N.America, as well as within Europe itself, and of course there are even greater challenges comparing communities that are “non-western”), but generally there has been an undervaluing of home and family.
    Your portrayal of family life in the past no doubt resonates with many, and as it should, because it was that way for a number of families. But by no means for all.
    Although there have been many depictions of pre-industrial life that show a “different-but-with-respect” division of labour in the household, these reflect one type of experience. But what about the women who were solely dependent upon their husbands to bring home much needed earnings, but were abandoned or the husband died or? What of women who were still with their husbands, but his earnings were not enough? The notion of a working mother has a very very long history, and recognizes the challenge women faced over the centuries who tended to their homes, but also had to work outside the home to add to the support of her husband (or alone). A woman who stayed home, the entire time, also had a socio-economic basis upon which she could manage this – ie: her husband had a good income to support the whole family. Otherwise, she was working in the city or on the farm, but definitely working “outside of the home”.
    As for today, there are many women who chose to work outside of the home, and others who do not. The pressures to do so depend a great deal on the culture one speaks of. What is sad is that, no matter what a woman choses, she gets criticism (and not just from men, but other women!).
    Women who chose to stay at home are criticized, as you aptly point out and discuss, so I don’t need to repeat your well presented arguments here. Interestingly enough, the same happens to those who chose to work and have children nevertheless. My own experience speaks to this – I was a phd student when I became pregnant with my first child (I have 3 children). It was expected I would quit (I still lived in N. America at this time, so this is a N.American experience). My colleagues were surprised that I wished to keep on studying. I chose to do this not by putting my child in daycare, but I instead (after he was born of course) took him with me. He was everywhere I went. I faced incredible criticism for this – babies should not be at the workplace (by the way, I also breastfed at the workplace – incredible criticism for this too). It is possible that some of your readers might also feel it is not appropriate that I took my son with me to the university. Maybe so, but the point is, where some might get criticized for staying at home, I got criticized for not staying at home. I also faced a tonne of criticism for delivering my babies at home. The criticism I got revolved around my not loving my child enough to just be with him. If I work, does that mean I don’t love my children?
    My former colleagues in N.America were afterwards shocked that I chose to have more than 1 child. On purpose no less. I was told women in my profession either decide not to have children, or have just one child (I am not Ivy League, not sociology, but am an associate professor in political science . . . ). I no longer live in North America, and life with kids and university work is considerably easier (but no utopia by any means). Fathers and mothers who work outside of the home (and frankly, most do because it is incredibly expensive here) have shorter work days, children are in and out of the workplace regularly (visiting, have holidays, etc). This might also be just because it is the university and we can get away with such things. It is not the life that you depict in your piece here, but it is a life where children are loved and respected, and being a parent is not depicted as a hurdle. (it might be, and I suspect is, different in the business community). And although here in Norway most parents work because they have to, in Holland, for example, the rate of stay-at-home mother is considerably higher – often good incomes mixed with lower cost of living (but not everyone has this privilege). I give these as examples because the socio-economic-political context is important when it comes to perceptions about family life and options for mothers.
    I am fortunate – I can make these choices. I can work, I can be with my children, and I am still able to take care of my house and make it a home. I love my home, I love being at home. (this does not mean I am good at it – but my love for my family and my partner continues to inspire me to get better – in this sense I share much with your readers).
    But again, I am a fortunate woman. Just as in the past, many women are forced to work outside of the home. Ask a mother working at Dairy Queen, or the Molsen brewery, or the Ford plant (if she still has her job) if she is there for personal fulfillment. Likely not. She may be there because she is a one income family. Maybe she has a two income family, and she and her husband were already struggling before the financial crisis, but now! They might lose their home. These women cannot be forgotten, but often they are.
    Interestingly enough, there are a number of variants of feminism that attempt to make these women, women who HAVE to work, as well women who choose to work, as well as women who desire to stay at home, more visible and valuable. Yes, I said the F word – sorry.
    But I feel I should also contribute to this aspect. The feminisms of the 1960s and 1970s have since then (we are talking about 40-50 years ago now!) been heavily debated, discussed and criticised, by feminists as well as non-feminists. The reason is because there are many MANY variants of feminism. Some of which are even reflected in the piece you present here. The feminisms of the 60 and 70s (largely called radical feminism) played a significant role, and even one that is important to your writing here (I will get back to that). Since then they have been criticised for analyses based upon a white, middle-class woman experience, that often had no bearing upon the realities of women of colour, the poor, or of different cultures. Some of the more modern critiques of these feminisms come from what are referred to as global feminism, multicultural feminism, or indigenous feminism. These perspectives argue against the dominant white working mother scenario that they feel is pressed upon them from western (largely american but some european) feminist vantage points. They argue that the arguments pressuring women into the workforce so they are valued are not relevant for their social contexts. These are reflections by women who wish to ensure that the women in their own societies are protected by human rights, have a say in their communities, and respected for their choices, including being wives and mothers according to the social norms of their society (for example in muslim cultures, northern indigenous cultures, etc). They also argue that they address patriarchy (this is not a word synonymous with male-bashing/hating, but describes a system that bases itself on male experience and the privileging of that experience) in different ways, according to their needs. I might add that difference feminism and ecofeminism take their departure points in the celebration of women and their strengths, including birth, motherhood, caring, etc. These are significant reversals of thought from the radical feminist position.
    Patriarchy, the privileging of the male experience, explains to a great extent the marginalization of women’s roles, both in and outside of the home. But particularly inside the home. Men are not recognized as contributors in the home, their work is recognized outside of the home, so it is outside the home that the “person” is most valued. Radical feminists knew this, and tried to make this marginalization clear. However they chose to solve the problem by taking women outside of the home – in some cases making women “men” (I am taking huge shortcuts here with a vast literature, but I hope the point comes across). That is no solution, as your piece well demonstrates. But your piece also demonstrates the effects of patriarchy on husbands and fathers who are “stuck in the system” as you say. Who cannot prioritize home and the family because they are not valued there. I don’t think you have to buy the solutions of radical feminists to appreciate the insights they nevertheless had on the system that continues to pressure not only women, but very often men.
    Feminists of all varieties, whether they agree or disagree with each other (this is a huge body of political thought which cannot be reduced to just radical feminist contributions), argue for respect for women, rights for women, and for women to be heard. Some of their work you reflect here, other parts of feminist contributions you might not agree with (and many feminists do not agree with each other).
    But I don’t know if women serve much purpose for themselves or each other if they decide to be “against” one another. As a feminist (yes, I admit it), should I be against you and your readers? I hope not, because despite not agreeing with everything you write, and not coming from the same experience or set of philosophies and beliefs that you hold, I still find much of what you write as important to my own world view. You show how women so often feel alone, challenged by their experiences with little support, how we miss a sense of community. I think you are so right! But a community cannot be built around women being against other women. And if you find some feminists are “against” you, you have the ability and insights to show them that there are many women’s experiences that need to be included, and they are included in your world, as you hope to be included in theirs. Perhaps that would be a good start towards community?

    I hope you accept these comments in the spirit that they are meant, in the spirit of free exchange of ideas and respect, and from one woman who loves her family, to another.

    All the best,
    gunhild

  • gunhild

    Oops – now it dawned on me that I have mixed up some websites, and sorry for that, as I associated this blogg with a site that expressly states a position against feminism. Though feminism is criticized in the article above, there is not an explicit “against” position, so for that I apologize. However, I nevertheless think that when one speaks about feminism, it helps to see which feminist positions might support mothers in the home and know that such feminist positions do exist.

    thanks again for your time.

    best, g

  • Khadija

    Todays society is simply removing a womens right to choose, we are moving in the opposit direction.
    A woman who wishes to stay at home and raise her family is not always free to do so.
    When a woman wants to do what comes naturally to her ( having kids) very few people are truly supportive. I understand this 1st hand, i’m 25 yrs old and have now been married about 1yr and still I’m constantly being told that I’m still too young to have kids, that I should wait. Now the question remains: What should I wait for? I’ve completed my university degree, I’m happily married to a wonderful man, I’ve had the opportunity to travel.I have nothing that I could regret missing out on because i chose to have kids. I think that todays views on motherhood and staying home to raise your family is shaped not only by feminists but by women who have experienced quite the opposit of now days. For example the women who are older now and who were married young and expected to stay home and have babies whether they were ready for it or not. They may have regretted their situation and in consequence encouraged the next generation to do the opposit.

    Now I have seen both sides of this situation, I was raised in a typical canadian christian family. My mother stayed home to raise her kids until we were of a certain age, then for financial reasons it became necessary for her to work outside of the home.
    Now that I’m older I’ve actually converted to Islam and lived in a muslim country where very few women work outside of the home and it is not necessarily well viewed for a woman to do so if her husband is perfectly capable of providing for her.
    Now having lived both of these realities, I beleive that by nature women in general are better suited for raising a family and staying home, granted that if a woman feels she is not suited for this, then leave her do as she pleases. The important thing is that for those who wish to: let them, whatever it may be.

  • Steve

    “Men no longer see children as their “job.”
    sitting around in the evenings watching TV still expect their wives to do all the parenting.”

    What utter nonsense.

    You are nothing more than a sneaky feminist blowing a smokescreen of ‘anti-feminist who appreciates men’ while hiding behind it with self-absorbed gender-superiority motives and agenda.

    Men and fathers are VERY underappreciated in society. Women and mothers are VERY appreciated in society.

    To paint a picture of overworked wife who’s underappreciated by not-so-hardworking husband is absolute nonsense.

    The woman is doing housework is she? And WHO is mowing the lawn? Sealing the driveway? Building the shelves? Fixing the plumbing? Lifting the heavy things? Taking out the garbage? Painting the fences? Pruning the trees? Fixing the roof? Cleaning the gutters? Bringing the wood in to the fireplace? Fixing the lawn sprinklers? Moving the refrigerator? Who deals with the rats and mice? Who gets up at 2am with a baseball bat to check the noise for burglars while you lay in bed waiting to be protected?

    You mentioned NONE of these things men do around the home

    Meanwhile you talked about the wife’s home work as if it’s some 100+ hours a week (I’d love to see the list of chores that proves this inflated number of hours)

    Why would you leave out what MOST men do for the home…while overexaggerating what women do for the home?

    Only one reason. Self-absorbed lack of self-accountability in women strongly encouraged by sexist-feminism via daily television soap operas, sitcoms, dramas, news media, newspapers, women’s magazines, and liberal-feminist dominated Hollywood movies.

    Your pictures of lazy husband/unappreciated wife is so polar-opposite to the actual situation in today’s society, it’s laughable.

  • Mr. Parunak

    Steve,

    Re-read the paragraph immediately preceding the sentence you disagreed with. Mrs. Parunak was taking issue with a society (and with men) who see “fatherhood as financial support and nothing more”.

    It’s obvious you’re a guy who passionately believes in taking care of your family… about providing more than just financial support. If you’re doing for your family all the things that you listed, then I applaud you. As such, I think it’s pretty clear that you (and men like you) are not the ones to whom that sentence was directed.

    Going back to one of my wife’s earliest points in the article, she said:

    “There was a time in the not too distant past when families worked together toward common goals.”

    She then listed places where modern society is attacking this cooperation (from a woman’s perspective… hey, she’s writing, after all, to the ladies here.)

    One of those places (and I agree entirely) is that society won’t even lift a finger to help guys understand how they can build up and lead their families. (You listed a lot of good ways in your response.) I’m glad you understand the need for this. It’s really important for kids to see their Dad leading, and serving, and building the family.

    For the record, I think that my wife’s more feminist readers (yes, they’re here, and we value their perspectives and their thoughts, even though we frequently agree to disagree) will find your suggestion that Mrs. Parunak is “strongly encouraged by sexist-feminism via daily television soap operas, sitcoms, dramas, news media, newspapers, women’s magazines, and liberal-feminist dominated Hollywood movies” to be quite hilarious. I’m sure some people wish we were more “plugged in”. Perhaps we’ll someday reach that “lofty” goal, but for now our trajectory is firmly in the other direction. Our only TV is a 13-inch TV-VCR combo which lives, unplugged, on a basement shelf and is used approximately once a year (if that). We receive no newspapers, no women’s magazines, and we haven’t watched a movie in ages (we really have no time). I’m the only one in the family that really keeps up with world/national/local events – Steve, we’re actually a bit on the sheltered side here!

    May I make one last comment?

    I’m all for chivalry, and I’ll respect any guy who gets up at 2 a.m. with his weapon of choice to defend his wife from intruders. So, if chivalry isn’t dead, why did you think it appropriate to imply that my wife has a “self-absorbed lack of self-accountability” and that she is a “sneaky feminist”?

    Neither is remotely true. My wife is anything but self-absorbed (to a fault). She is self-examining AND accountable to me, and she is neither “sneaky” nor is she a feminist.

    That being said, a good friend once noted that “feminism is the sound that comes out of a woman’s mouth after she gets smacked”. If we don’t approve of feminism… maybe, just maybe, we should stop “smacking” women.

    We can’t credibly level personal attacks (verbal or otherwise) at a lady and while simultaneously criticizing her for feminist tendencies. I think that would be kind of unfair, don’t you?

  • I was helping my father in his trade at 8 years old and I was raised in a pretty liberal house. I wasn’t a full time apprentice, but when he had side work, and renovations to be done in the house, he made sure I was an active participant, even if I was a lazy video game addicted little load. I’m only 25, so we’re talking long long ago in like 1993, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts none the less. My father was raised fatherless and I think it gave him real insight into the importance of fatherhood though. Unfortunately most fatherless boys don’t grow up to be like my dad did.

    At any rate, I understood while reading this article that Mrs Parunak was addressing women as her primary audience, and also that she was using many generalizations regarding the status quo in our modern society. As a man on the crazy lunatic fringe right that cares about family values and human decency, and morality and discipline and Godliness, I understood that your talking points regarding men, were not directed at me and the father I hope to be when I can find a woman whose mind is not poisoned against me by feminism, a woman that actually wants more than just a child support check and a bimonthly babysitter for her children. A woman that is up to the task of being a good mother and dutiful wife, while I tackle the task of being a strong and faithful father and husband.

    I don’t fight feminism because I hate women, I fight feminism because I love women, but feminism has made them too much of a liability for a decent person like myself to interact with in a romantic way. My biggest fear is not what would be done to me, but what horrid thing I’d do in retaliation if some feminist skank ever tried to remove me from my family. I have no desire to spend my life in prison, but I know I will to defend my honor. Theres too much on the line, and feminists tend to think that its all just care free fun and games. Thats why I remain single and celibate, and limit my interactions with women to very casual and very superficial small talk and pleasantries.

  • Thank you for this brilliance in simplicity. :) You stated it so well.

    God Bless!

  • L.

    I just re-read this post, and some of the comments. Interesting — it means I have been reading this blog for almost an entire year now, since I originally came to it from “Ladies Against Feminism.”

    I am — quite literally — the opposite. I am a feminist, and I gently correct people when they call me a “lady,” depending on their use, because it can be a term loaded with cultural nuances — in which case, it does not accurately describe me. I don’t see myself as a “lady,” though of course others are free to think of me as they wish.

    I didn’t comment on this post last year, but I will now, and say that “feminism” existed long before the Industrial Revolution. The isolated, rural farm is only one model of traditional family life. Since ancient times, there have always been humans living communally, whether in big cities or small farming villages. There have always been communities in which children spent their days playing with their peers, under the watch of not just their parents but their extended family and neighbors. Some of these societies accepted women into positions of tribal/urban leadership, while others did not. There have always been women who aspired to these leadership roles, or to other roles performing traditionally male tasks. Sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they didn’t — my point is only that women like me have been around for a long time (and we’re not going away!).

    I am a working mom by choice, not necessity. My own mother was a working mom by choice, and her mother was a working mom by necessity and then by choice (my grandmother had to leave school when she was 14 to go to work as a waitress to help support her family, and she continued waitressing for most of her life). My grandmother’s mom came from Poland, from farmers. Not much is known about her, since she died in childbirth when my grandmother was 8, but she managed to instill in her daughter a solid work ethic: If you want to stay at home, and can, that’s fine, but working outside the home to support your family is just as honorable for a woman as for a man. My grandmother passed this on to me, and now I am passing it on to my daughter and sons.

    One more thought — just as all the different religious communities seem to have trouble deciding on a definition of what constitues a “true Christian,” we feminists differ greatly on who can call themselves a feminist. For example, while I am mostly a working-outside-the-home mother, I was a stay-at-home-mother for several years, for a variety of reasons. During this time, I faced accusations that I was not a feminist: http://thehomesickhome.blogspot.com/2005/12/failure-to-cause-i-never-joined.html

  • L.

    Oops, sorry, I accidentally linked the wrong post of mine (and sorry to hijack this comment thread, but I figured since it’s an old one, it’s probably less impolite than usual!). I mean to link this one — http://thehomesickhome.blogspot.com/2006/09/my-own-special-little-conversation.html . Anyway, I consider myself a feminist, even though Linda Hirschman clearly doesn’t!

    And as long as I’m going nuts posting links in someone else’s comments, I will post this one, to another feminist blog I happen love, even though I don’t always agree with what is posted there — http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/

    Oh, and don’t worry, I would never call you a “feminist,” Mrs. Parunak, because I’m sure that would make you feel the same way it makes me feel when people call me a “lady!” :)

    I just enjoy reading blogs written by people who are living their convictions, as I am living mine — even if our convictions don’t happen to match.

  • K

    I realize this is an older post, but I just found it yesterday through another site. I’d like to add that our society’s obsession with “stuff” often thwarts even the best attempts at decent homemaking. Year after year more “stuff” is transfered from the list of luxury to that of necessity. I know this is not true of all families (as your husband’s comment on your television demonstrates) but the average home is filled with so many “necessities” that there isn’t enough time in the day to keep track of it all and still be the mothers we hope to be for our children and the wives we hope to be to our husbands. And at the end of the day there are still toys all over the floor, laundry left undone, small appliances on the counters, etc. Even IF our mothers taught us how to make our homes and our husbands ARE family-oriented its just too much stuff.

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