Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stay at Home Mom

When I was in college I took a Women's Literature course, which I absolutely loved. I fell in love with many female writers and for the first time in my life realized the term feminist was a positive notion, not the man-hating, woman-is-superior association I had theretofore believed it to be. Through these amazing works of art and my fantastic professor, I had the epiphany that I myself am indeed a feminist. My professor and I grew very close through the semester and gained mutual respect for each other's love of the written word and writing skills.

On the last day of class, we discussed our future plans and aspirations. I was working towards a degree in English teaching, which my beloved professor knew of. However, it was during this discussion that I mentioned my true desire for my future occupation, that of a stay at home mom. I said that I would love the opportunity to teach English, but that if I had the choice I would happily choose staying home with my children over my sought after career. I instantly saw a look of total disappointment fill my professor's face. She told me what a waste such a decision would be, and that I would be throwing away my gifts and the contributions I could make to our society. Honestly, I was hurt, really hurt. Because of my desire to be a stay at home mom, I had lost value in her eyes. I informed her that just because I wanted to put my efforts into raising my children, that did not make me less of a person. That I still believed in the rights of women, and that men and women should have equal opportunities. And that because we are all equal, I could choose to do what I truly wanted to do with my life. I resolutely told her that as a stay at home mom, I would surely contribute to our society, and in a manner which I deemed most important, just as she, with her teaching, was contributing in a manner she believed to be most important. I left, a bit saddened by my professor's discouragement, but even more sure of my personal aspirations. I am proud of my strength that day. Proud that I stood up for what I believed, even when it went against someone I deeply respected.

A few Sundays ago, a fellow ward member, who I hardly know, asked me about my job working with the special education students at the local junior high. I let him know that I no longer worked there and hadn't since I had my children. He huffed and rolled his eyes, and made a sarcastic remark. I then quickly informed him that I now work at the local fitness center daycare. He seemed content in hearing this and continued our discussion.

Later, during Relief Society we had a lesson on pride. We discussed how pride can take the form of being ashamed of our beliefs. It was then that I realized, when talking to this man, I had felt a need to be ashamed of my decision to quit work to be with my kids. Why else would I have scrambled for the excuse that I am still working? I work at the daycare (very part time) because I can bring my children along with me, because I can still be with them, raising them, while also making a little extra needed income, certainly not because it is my life's ambition. Why is it that I, as a college student, was so ready to defend my values to my greatly esteemed professor, and yet today as I find myself, in the situation I so long desired, I cower at my choice? I still believe I am doing a good work being at home with my children. I believe I am where I should be. I'm not sure why I have lost my assertiveness concerning this matter. Surely, I made a mistake in the denial of my choice to be a stay at home mom. I will not do so again.


*Marie* said...

Wow. You amaze me. Always. This post has brought tears to my eyes. I, too, feel that raising my children is a huge responsibility and a great blessing. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this powerful post.

Gram LJ said...

Lera I enjoyed reading your comments in this writing. As I read it I am reminded of your special Mother who I love and appreciate as a friend.
I always appreciated that she said it like it was exactly as she felt in all matters.
You too have this gift and I did not feel you backed down at all when you stated you loved being a stay at home Mother as well as the part time work you do with other little ones, who I might add are very blessed to have your loving care.
Keep on being who you are and know that you are a wonderful daughter of Our Heavenly Father doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason!!
Love You Lots,

Becky said...

Lera~ I love this post. It's beautiful to be able to follow a thought process that ended up on the absolutely best side ever.
I like to hope that I'm on the same path as you because I find nobility and honor in what you do day to day. You remind me so much of my sister and I often praise her for the efforts she puts forth as a full-time mom raising a righteous generation and living the "Mormon American Dream."
Keep up the good work. You're helping teach the children that will lead the Lord's church in the final days. Never be ashamed of the work you do.