I would like to respond to this confidently spoken statement by a man I know. Sure in his belief of the veracity of his statement, I believe he meant it in many ways as a compliment to the female race in general, as well as myself, my sister engaged in the conversation and his stay-at-home wife raising their young son. My sister and I did not respond as such however. We both vehemently opposed his statement, that women naturally are better caregivers and are predisposed (by their gender) to desire (and thrive!) in the involved parenting role of majority caregiver.
There is admittedly a significant amount of history involved from all sides on why we approach this topic the way each one of us do. Today is not the day to delve into the depths of that ocean. But I will share my response to his statement.
The mother role. Mothers and careers.
Women have just as many interests, as much ambition and as strong a desire for family life as any man who dreams of a well-rounded life with a successful career and family at home.
Why is a successful businessman with a wife and children seen as unremarkable, nothing of note, while a woman doing the same is choosing career over family? Is the man? Is he choosing career over family? If no, then why is she? Do you expect him to tone back his career ambitions for a decade or two for it to be believable that he delights in family life and adores his children? No? Do you feel the same about her? Or must she reject one role or the other? Successful career OR children. Choose. Sleep OR food. Choose.
That yearning for achievement, for engaging with the world, that thirst for being shaped, taught, and contributing on a professional level to society, is intertwined so tightly with my zest for life, my interest in my days and my reason for rising out of bed in the morning. To let that be set down, to put aside that part of my self that I approve of so highly and enjoy claiming as my own, to set that all aside, is often to set aside my interest in life itself.
Going through the motions of existence does not serve me, my children or my community well does it? I want to thrive in, not merely survive, my daily routine.
I could go on, barely, as a dimly lit candle about to burn out, feebly encompassing the wick. But when given the time and place to think, plan, organize, dream, set goals, pursue ideas, engage with people and the outside world, I flame up brightly, a white hot flame dancing and stretching as far as my human wick will allow, then begin adding in ways to improve my wick so I can flame up even better and brighter in the future.
Sir, please do not put on me and the female race in general that I am an anomaly. I am the rule, not the exception.
Perhaps others followed their planned out timing better than I and reached the point where they wanted to step back, part-time or consulting only. Yet that is still not a sign of their lack of interest or passion for their work. It merely shows greater passion for the lives they have brought into this world; a continued purposeful prioritizing of what matters most to allocate their time accordingly.
There is my response.
P.S. I shouldn't feel compelled to add the caveat that I adore my babies, even when also frustrated by the constant dedication of my time to the task of caring for them. But I do feel it. There's the problem. There IS the problem. Because one of your next questions could be, "Well, should you have really chosen to have children?"
Do you enjoy every second of your job? Your marriage? Your school major? Would YOU enjoy no pursuits other than family raising and house keeping? Why can't I want both? With no judgement. No internal commentary on, "Well, she is choosing career over family I see."
I want a strong, thriving family life and home as well as passionate, creative, professional level contribution to the community at large! I am a woman. And I am not unique in this.
Thank you for listening. I say this all with love and an interest in understanding one another.
P.P.S. I do realize that as an American woman with a husband who is willing to support our family of six on one income that I have much to be thankful for and am truly blessed beyond measure. I know that no one other than myself is stopping me from going out and pursuing a career concurrently with raising these little ones. More on that in future posts! It is the mindset that I am refuting. The fact that this belief still exists that frustrates me and made me want to share these thoughts with you.