Women don't need to choose between
work or children -- we can have both
November 17, 2008 | I am a product of the feminist
movement, but I am also the product of the 1950s housewife
motif. I have spent most of my life confused about both.
Growing up, I watched my mother, a housewife, operate.
She cooked dinner every night, ran us to voice lessons,
trumpet lessons, dance lessons and picked us up from
our various school activities. She cleaned the house,
took care of the children, and from the way it was in
our house, I just assumed that was the way life was
supposed to be.
Then I reached the public school system, where all
of my teachers pushed me to break the mold of the "typical
American housewife" to become a surgeon, an engineer
or a computer programmer, almost anything was acceptable
as long it didn't involve me barefoot and pregnant in
a kitchen somewhere.
I think this is when I first became confused. My mother
was very happy as a housewife and I had never really
considered being anything else.
I began to entertain the idea that my parents were
just old fashioned and that I needed to follow mainstream
America. I put off all ideas of ever staying home, getting
married young and decided children just weren't for
me. I set my sights on becoming a psychiatrist and prepared
by taking the necessary classes in high school.
I had dreams of having the perfect apartment in New
York or Chicago, anywhere far away from Utah. I would
get to wear all of the designer trends.
I worked hard at my goal, getting good grades and
convincing myself that for no reason whatsoever would
I get married young like most of my friends would. I
wouldn't be a housewife, I was going to make something
Then something changed. A boy entered the picture.
I spent hours trying to talk myself to stay true to
my goals, but in the end, as it happens most of the
time, the boy won out and I married him. There was a
time after we were married that I thought I would never
achieve my dreams. My dreams of psychiatry were replaced
by journalist and photographer ambitions but nevertheless,
I was terrified of dying without ever leaving my mark
on the world.
There is a quote from somewhere that says, "well behaved
women seldom make history." To me, most well behaved
women are housewives. Women who do little more than
chauffeur children from one soccer game to the next.
I feared becoming one of them, attending a few semesters
of college but never graduating. I was terrified of
spending more time changing diapers than changing the
world and never fulfilling my dreams of owning my own
photography business and freelancing.
One night, I confided these fears to my husband, who
has since then taken it upon himself to make sure I
don't feel like I have failed myself and my dreams.
I may be young and just a few weeks away from having
my first child, but I am also just a few weeks away
from receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism. I
may be changing diapers for the next few years but I
also plan on freelancing and expanding the photography
business my husband helped me start.
This is the part where most stay-at-home moms start
to freak out on me, and no, I am not planning on going
to work every day from nine to five.
This is the part where working moms freak out on me:
yes, I may not plan on going to work every day from
nine to five but I plan on working when I can and how
that schedule fits in with my family.
I now believe that women should not be forced to stay
at home with their children or be forced into the workforce.
Women are going to be happier, better mothers if they
choose where they will be happiest. Mothers who want
to stay home but are forced into the workforce won't
be as effective in life, just as mothers who want to
work but are forced to stay home.
Women should be allowed to do what makes them the
happiest, where money permits them. I have found in
the last short while that I will be happiest somewhere
So I may be semi-barefoot (the kitchen floor is cold,
I have slippers on), pregnant and in the kitchen making
dinner, but I am also studying for the psych final and
crossing my fingers that my baby won't come during a
final. I may never get to be president of the United
States but I am working on changing the world in the
ways I know how, through my actions and hopefully through
raising some great kids.