I am a stay-at-home mom. I am a wife. And I am a Feminist.
I am a Feminist Housewife.
No, that’s not an oxymoron. Welcome to a new generation of housewives. We ain’t Donna Reed, yo.
I don’t mean to ruffle any other housewives feathers, but I didn’t grow up necessarily wanting this job. Like many, if not most housewives I know, being a housewife was not my professional goal. I didn’t go to college or two different graduate programs to earn an M.R.S degree. I was already wearing suits and handing out business cards by the time I met the Dude. I didn’t cook and I certainly didn’t pick up after anyone else. I had changed maybe 3 diapers in my life at that point. If that. Nothing about me screamed *housewife-material!*. The Dude and I married with the knowledge that we are equal partners in everything that we do, and that includes raising a family together. We are partners and co-parents. Decisions are made together and we work hard to make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to our relationship and parenting. The Dude even calls himself a feminist, too. It’s good to be married to one of those.
I was raised in the 80′s, which was a great time to grow up for a girl. I wasn’t raised on Donna Reed, June Cleaver, or even Edith Bunker. I was raised on Mrs. Huxtable, Kate & Allie, and Murphy Brown. Those women were smart feminist chicks who could support their families and hold their own against any man. They were my feminist icons. But my biggest influence was undoubtedly my own mother. After my parents divorced, she was the one who stressed the importance of being self-sufficient and independent. She didn’t just tell me to be that way. She showed me the way. I watched my mom work her way through graduate school while raising three kids alone. It was not only impressive, but it made a life-long impact on me. I knew from a young age that the key to everything was through education and drive. Become your own person before you marry and have the means to support yourself…just in case, my mother would tell us. Her pragmatism helped shape us. My sister and I were not raised to believe that we were little princesses and that Prince Charming would come along one day to save us. Instead, we grew up with the drive to be educated and financially independent and the belief that if Prince Charming actually did show up, well, he better be willing to cook, clean, and change diapers*, too.
One of the best things about being a woman in a post-modern/Third-Wave era of Feminism is that there are no rules. Our choices in life are determined by what works best for ourselves and our families, not what is expected of us. Whatever a mama chooses to do, it’s never an easy choice to make. I think most of us are realistic enough to know by now that we cannot have it all. For those that go back to work, there is less time with the kids. For those of us who stay home, we usually sacrifice career advancement and income to do so. We all deal with a diminishing stigma, but a stigma nonetheless. We may all have preconceived notions and ideologies about what works best for the family, but there is no right or wrong way when it comes to moms working or not working. Or, as I call it, Paid and Unpaid Moms. It’s about what works best for each individual family.
As for me, I know that my career will be there when I’m ready to go back. Until then, I’m enjoying these precious few years of the hardest job I’ll ever have with the most demanding boss I’ll ever work for. He can be quite the grumpy, demanding, and ungrateful type, you see. But his smile and giggle makes my heart melt everyday. No amount of money or career advancement in the world can ever compare. I see my colleagues going off and doing great things in their careers. I’ll join them one day. But, for now, it’s good to be a Feminist Housewife.
Now…who wants pie?
*I’m not counting, but I do believe the Dude has changed more diapers than me. Now THAT’s what I call a real man.