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5.29.2010

Women's Choices

I hear a lot about how women don't have the opportunity to have both a career and a family.

But, I would say that women DO have choices in this area, and it is going to be up to them to decide what they want, and then be big girls and deal with the consequences.

Here's what I mean.

Choice #1: Be a stay-at-home mom. Some women LOVE making a home for their family and raising their kids FULL-TIME. They love creating environments for learning and comfort and refuge. They love to create dishes that are fun, nutritious, and pleasing to the eye! They love to homeschool their kids, or they love to send their kids to school and do stuff in the community that requires a volunteer position. Or, maybe they don't really love these things, but they see the value in it and see that it is the best for their family if they don't spend money on daycare or if the kids have a parent there teaching them instead of sending the kids to daycare.

Choice #2: Be a career-focused mom. Some women don't want kids. They'd rather pursue other worthy and important aspects of the social realm. They want to work themselves up the corporate chain, whether for money and security, or for self-satisfaction, or to prove themselves to others, or for some some worthy cause that advances the Kingdom of God. Maybe these women work 40 hours a week, maybe 60, maybe 80. Many of these women are going to be the breadwinner of the family, or an equal contributer. Some of their husbands are going to be stay-at-home dads.

Choice #3: Be an involved mother and a career woman. This woman tries to balance being there for her family, raising kids...and being successful in a career. This choice is hard. Some of these women don't have supportive husbands who will give up their career for her desire to have a career. Some of these women need to work, along with their husbands, to put food on the table and a roof over the family's head. Others really are torn between the deep desire for motherhood and for a career. Many of these women have probably not had serious conversations with their husbands BEFORE getting married and BEFORE having kids about what they want. Many of these women feel the desire to work, but the desire to have kids, and feel like their work is being sabotaged because they won't/can't put in the long hours required to keep promotions and "keep up with all those men who are getting raises". Many women feel resentful about this...many because they want the best of both worlds.

Here's what I've been mulling around in my head...many women have choices about their role in the home. The problem is, this conversation is not had before getting married, and many women are married to men who are not supporting them. But, these women have choose to marry these men. It's so sad that there are some jerks out there who think that women have to be in the home no matter what the woman wants. But, maybe we just choose not to marry them?

Again, I have had the privilege of having a great husband who is supportive. He understands my desire and need to work outside the home. But we both understand the need and desire for our kids to have us at home with them for the first couple years of their lives. Jake is very ambitious too, and has desires to pursue a doctorate degree so he can research and further the field of education. And we have chosen the hard road ... both of us are moving MUCH slower through the career-path...both of us make sacrifices to not work or work part-time in order to meet the needs of the kids or each other. We understand that we're not going to be top achievers in our fields at ripe young ages. We get that us going in and out of the workforce is going to limit our opportunities for advancement. I feel blessed that Jake has entered into this ebb and flow of sacrifice and career-seeking in order to help us both feel fulfilled and our kids blessed.

OF COURSE, not everyone wants our lifestyle (lol, and sometimes we don't either), nor should everyone adopt this. But, maybe if families would be more willing to re-imagine what fulfillment and sacrifice would look like for BOTH spouses and for the kids, then women would feel like they have less choices.

By choosing one thing, we're sacrificing another. That's the choice we're making. So, let us choose wisely, communicate well with one another, and understand the consequences of the choices we're making.

CAVEAT: I KNOW this is an "idealic" post, and not everyone is in a place where they can choose. I do get this. However, I think this post could apply to many women in their circumstances.

What do you think? How has your family decided to work out this balance? What are some things that I'm not taking into consideration?

5 comments:

Mrs. Haid said...

I didn't properly discuss these choices before marriage with my husband. Niether of us thought these were huge deals. Now I feel like the choices I have are harder because I didn't properly prepare myself for choice #1 or #3. For some reason, I just assumed #2. Now that I've got a baby, I'd love many more. Even though I like my identity as an employee. I really feel the sacrifice that is keeping up the house, and sometimes I resent when my husband doesn't feel lucky to have a high paying somewhat prestigous job. But I keep thinking... we won't have small children forever and we won't have the luxury to re-do anything.

Tiffany said...

Bethany, I think you bring up a really good point. How do we know to even talk about this issue? I mean, of course we both probably "talked" about it, but like you said, not properly.

I have a friend who really thought she wanted to be a stay at home mom, but then once she stayed home for awhile, she realized that that was not what she wanted. I think a LOT of the pressure comes from the kids starting as babies, lol. I would much rather be a SAHM to a 3 year old than a 3 month old. :)

Thanks for bringing that up- the fact that maybe we always don't know what we want or don't want until we jump into all of it.

Some women thrive on keeping the home- it gives them energy most days!- I, however, am not one of those women either. It is really a sacrifice. Keep up the awesome work and remember that you are blessing everyone in your household- you have a bright baby boy! :)

Abby Jaskolski said...

I could probably write a book about this topic! It weighs on my mind and heart daily, and I vacillate daily (sometimes hourly) on my stance. On the one hand, I feel very privileged, like you guys mentioned, to even have these choices. I never really pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom, but I also didn't foresee having such strong maternal feelings either. In my case, at least, I can justify giving up my career temporarily by the simple fact that, like Bethany said, they are only young once, and secondly, I honestly look at my SAHM job as a gift. I get to be with our child every day, all day, witnessing her first everything and getting to know her on a level that Nick doesn't. My patience is tested and strengthened daily, as is my ability to find happiness and fun in the simple things. I'm not bogged down by competitiveness in the workplace or pettiness or gossip. I have ample time to think about myself and our family and what I/we want out life. I'm not rushing around all of the time, stressed out of my mind and worried about pleasing someone (other than Evie, of course!). Staying home has taught me to stop being so busy and to live in the moment more. I've been able to pursue creative interests that I wouldn't have had time for had I been working. I'm entrusted by Nick to make our house a home and to make sure we all eat healthy and have fun--a very heavy but also honorable position to have, I think. It is honestly the absolute hardest job I've ever had, and there are definitely times that I think to myself, "I have a master's degree, and here I am eating popsicles on the back patio on a Wednesday afternoon!" And I do sometimes envy Nick for his career and his prestige at times. But I really feel that in the end it's also just a matter of perspective and of realizing that this is just a season in my life--one that will quickly change and one that I will most likely someday miss. I'm not eternally a SAHM. I'm not truly giving up anything long term. A few years at home, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing. And beyond that, like Tiffany said, it's just a matter of choosing one thing and not choosing the other. Sacrifice is annoying sometimes, but it is what it is. I have let it get to me a few times, but I just always come back to the thought that a) I chose this and b) I obviously have some strong and convincing feelings about it, or I wouldn't keep doing it. Nick has always left the decision to work or stay home completely up to me. And beyond all of that, I have found the selflessness that I've had to muster as a SAHM to be unbelievably freeing, rewarding and humbling. While I think going to college is amazing in so many ways, I think it also has a way of making people very self-centered and egotistical. I know that when I graduated, I was very caught up in prestige and salaries and titles and time lines of when I hoped to accomplish this or that. I guess it's only natural, after you've spent four or more years working on something for yourself, by yourself. But while I still definitely have goals, my motives for achieving them have drastically changed, and for the better, I think.

Tiffany said...

Abby, thanks for the great comments!

I'm glad that I'm not alone in my thoughts. I've been reading some books and listening to some people talk about how women don't really have any choices and they have to be stay-at-home moms because that's what society says is right, and if they're not they are looked down upon and they're oppressed because of it! I just haven't really had that experience, so these were my thoughts about that.

We live in a complicated world :).

Ariah said...

Another great post and topic. As a dad, in a family whose made choices alternate to the culture (my wife is the 'bread winner' in the family, I'm with the kids primarily), I'd like to just say it's more then being "big girls" in making a choice.
Like most choices there's lots of outside factors: societal pressures, pressures from your spouse, church, etc. And regardless of how much you thought through this stuff before having kids, it might be very different then you expected.

All I want to say is that rather then emphasizing that many women need to make a choice and deal with the consequences I think it's important to also emphasize that men need to be supportive of women (especially their wives, but all women as well), in being able to make these choices with the full loving support, rather then the pressure of society, etc.

If women were fully supported rather then pressured into what they choose I think it'd be easier to live with the choice.