Moms aren’t supposed to enjoy being at home with their kids. We are supposed to be competent career women who are not just intelligent and articulate, but have clean cars, clean homes, and clean children as well. At least that’s what society seems to expect of us.
As girls we are told from a very young age that we should dream big and be astronauts and engineers and for our whole lifetimes compete with men to be equal. After all, we owe it to our predecessors who won us the right to own property and vote. To carry forcefully forward the right of being human.
We hold our stance to fight the man. We pledge allegiance to the billboards, campaigns and memes to not let children change us or make us weak. We make the first 3-12 months of our baby’s life as educational and perfect as possible. Because even in our ‘time off’ work we are driven to perform. And once back to work from maternity leave, we try to prove every day that we can keep pace with our male coworkers.
We complain about the gender wage gap. But that only exists because we are the only ones with the biological capacity to grow and bear a child. We have to take time off, away from our career, so we fall behind in the pay grid, unable to catch up in linear time like an investment late in life.
We see the success of ‘career women’ on TV, forgetting their only job is to pretend. We compare ourselves to the men, forgetting that we are innately different. We compare ourselves to the women at work who seem to have it all together, forgetting that they don’t have kids living at home.
The stress of it all eats us. Working moms with small children (or even old) just can’t keep up. Trying to burns us out.
I am an elementary teacher. I love my job. I am driven to succeed in my career. But I am also Mama to girls who are 3, 4 and 5 years old. I taught grade 6 full-time in between and after every baby, because ain’t nothing was gonna break my stride.
Every school day I was fighting to forget my children, and every home day I had to fight against them to get planning and marking finished. Trying to give my best to both roles almost broke me.
I was forgetting that God made me a Mama while I was striving to keep my professional title of Teacher. What I didn’t know then that one title didn’t give me more value than another.
Eventually, I quit my job. But by that point my stubbornness had driven me to such unhealth that now, a year later, I’m still recovering physically and mentally. And in this space of just being Mama I’ve realized many women – not just me – have been crippled by such a false narrative.
Women don’t have to fight to be human. No bit of overtime or lack of sleep can ever make us ‘equal’ to men. We just are. Created in the image of God. Perfectly. Differently. And our performance cannot add a single penny to our value, even factoring in inflation.
We forget that a mother is intrinsically connected to her child. If you carried your baby in your belly, they own your cells. If you carried your baby in adoption, they own the fullness of your desiring heart. And however your baby got to you, you are neurochemically connected to your child.
You know how when you find yourself watching them being themselves you feel a surge of deep warmth with the smile that slides across your face? That’s brain chemicals carrying the feelings of love. Dopamine. Serotonin. For them. Hard-fought to produce through every feeding and sleepless night and little squeaky ‘I love you, mama.’
You can’t just ignore these brain chemicals that scream loudly your motherhood, even when you drop them off at daycare and clock in for your ’real’ work.
Looking back, I’m not sure why it took me so long to quit my job. I GET to be a mom. My girls are not an interruption in my career; they are a gift for my life.
I guess that for too long I listened to the narrative that unless I’m working I’m not living up to my potential. A false sense of success that is reinforced monetarily every month.
It is not oppression to be at home with my kids.
I am not less than for trading my place on the pay scale for time with my girls.
I am not subject to domination or cruelty because I am ‘just a mom’.
If anything, by pressing into the nature of my femininity and uncovering every ounce of nurturing I possess, I am becoming more free. More alive. More fully me. Being a mom is a role God created, and because of that, uniquely fulfilling. Motherhood only felt unrewarding when I held an erroneous perspective.
And this shift from working feminist fighting to fulfilled in God’s role of feminine has bred pure joy. I am free to give up my micro-managing, fun-stealing, goal-oriented perfection.
Popcorn explosion over every bit of the living room? Funny.
That fort that’s in the middle of the living room for a week? Sister memories.
A million little stuffies? A million little friends.
Just because we’ve been taught to work for our value doesn’t mean we need to. Just because the working mom life looks glamorous, doesn’t mean that’s the truth. Just because generations before fought for rights, doesn’t mean we can’t now rest into them.
The truly feminist perspective would be one of choice without direction or judgment. The freedom for each woman to choose for herself the life that fits. It is only the false feminism of denying the joy of motherhood and re-scripting it into a narrative of oppression, of striving to prove a value we already possess, that is truly oppressive.
Women are good at many things. We can win big at anything we put our minds to. But, I dare say, women were created with the capacity for motherhood, and the gift of being strangely fulfilled by it. We do not become more feminine by throwing this gift away.
Astronauts and engineers are cool. But so are moms who are just moms. Because this is the only job description with the actual, not just hypothetical, ability to change the world.
When I go back to my career, I will always be ‘behind’ in my pension. But that’s okay. Not all investments look like money.