I agree with Utah Facebookers’ boyfriend, Matt Walsh, once in a while, like about how rude and insensitive it is to ask couples why they don’t have kids yet. And actually, I agree with his general point in his post “Stay-at-home moms: you don’t owe the world an explanation.” I agree that stay-at-home moms have one of the hardest jobs in the world, deserve our respect, and don’t have to justify their life to anyone.
My issue with the aforementioned post is the fact that Walsh, and many others who defend stay-at-home moms in this manner, can’t seem to do so without not-so-subtly suggesting that all other moms DO owe us an explanation.
Hint: they don’t.
I’ve never met a single woman, feminist or no, who wouldn’t defend to the death the validity and value of being a stay-at-home mom. The problem is not, has never been women choosing to stay home (as long as it is definitely their choice). There is only a problem when we start to think women who don’t want to stay home, who might not even want to be married or have children, are less feminine, more selfish, any less of a woman or, if they do have children, inferior mothers.
If you’ve accepted that women are as multifaceted as men with as wide a range of talents and interests (as I hope to heaven you all have), then it should hardly be a stretch to also accept there are some individuals whose talents and interests are perfectly compatible with stay-at-home parenthood, and others whose are not. There is no excuse for believing anyone is less deserving of any opportunities to follow their dreams and live a full life simply because they’re a woman — or a man, for that matter. Would all of those who so passionately defend the virtues of being a stay-at-home mom be just as supportive of a man who decides they’re right and wants to be a stay-at-home dad? Let’s hope so, because if not, well . . . the words “sexist hypocrite” come to mind.
The thing is, there’s nothing noble or intelligent about defending a mother’s right to be a stay-at-home mom if that’s her only “choice” you’re in favor of. That’s like defending “freedom of religion” only when it comes to your own religion (and I know none of us would ever do that). I love how the people who say women who don’t want to stay home with their kids should simply not have children are usually the same people who want to burn voluntarily childless women at the stake. Did it ever occur to them that some women are better mothers when they are also allowed to tend to their own personhood? (Or do they give that up when they become mothers? How inspiring and totally not contradictory to your whole defense of motherhood.)
What about when a woman has worked for years to be a doctor, and her husband loves kids and just wants to stay home? Or they both want to work part-time and are able to balance their schedules so the kids always have a parent home? What if they both want to work outside the home — should it default to the woman to give up that hope instead of them working out a compromise, as married adults are kind of supposed to do? Should they and their children be miserable, settle for something less than their dreams, just so total strangers will approve? What if their daughter has dreams of being a scientist who cures cancer, but her main female role model giving up her every non-domestic dream has sent her the message that, if she ever even thinks of doing anything with her life besides just one thing, she’s a bad person and barely even a woman? In my book, it’s child abuse to tell your daughter (or son) that they’re only allowed to do one thing with their life and anything else makes them unforgivably selfish.
To tell the truth, I have a hard time even talking about this, because this whole judgmental mindset that there is only one way to be a mom seems so nonsensical and, dare I say, evil to me. I have no problem with people having deeply held religious beliefs about what a family should look like, and they have every right to practice that in their own lives. But when it comes to other people’s lifelong happiness, as long as they’re not hurting anyone (because I’m pretty sure the kids don’t care which parent heats up the macaroni and cheese), you kind of need to keep it yourself. You’re only making yourself look bad when you tell others to sacrifice their happiness for your beliefs.
Except in cases of actual child abuse or neglect (and no, day care doesn’t count as criminal neglect, sorry), let’s get in the mindset that nobody owes us an explanation for what they think will make them the best parent . . . or non-parent.