Last night I was perusing through Facebook, as I often do during late night feedings of my youngest daughter.
I came across an article that quickly jolted me wide awake. Unpopular Opinion: Being a Stay At Home Mother Is Not a Job by Liz Pardue-Schultz is a well written, comical piece that has some great analysis on a topic that many have an opinion about.
Her strong opinion, based in part on her personal experience, ruffled some feathers and gained nationwide attention.
While I agree with a lot of what Ms. Pardue-Shultz has to say on the subject, I feel that her article ultimately furthers the gap between women. A response, in my unnaturally hearty and ample opinion in the wee hours of the night, became necessary.
Let me start by saying that I work from home, running my intuitive coaching business and online boutique. I also tend to my four-year-old and five-month-old daughters and a son, who at 13, is fortunate that school saves him from the chaos within my home during the day.
My husband works outside of the home and has a hefty commute, leaving me to manage the house and all therein for a good portion of the day. I balance a lot; I work my ass off. My business is my job. Taking care of my kids is work. I am paid for my work with clients, not for my work with the kids. I am, however, fortunate that I come from the perspective of doing both.
The debate seems to have exploded and to me it’s not whether one is a job or not but rather if one can be quantified or not. Those who work and earn cash money can measure value in their job by what they earn and, as such, pass judgement on those who stay home with kids, because what we do is not quantifiable. As a matter of fact, it must mean that what we do is not truly a job.
But what is a job, then?
Surely it depends on the individual answering the question. I think, however, we will agree that a job is something we dedicate our time to, often repetitively and with a high standard of quality. To that end, I understand that some women consider the task of staying home with their children a job.
The second aspect of this debate comes down to the argument about priority, value and purpose. I
t’s a quarrel between those women who work outside the home or value a career of their own and those who choose not to. It’s the often unspoken portrayal that those who choose to stay at home to work on the task of raising their children are somehow less empowered than those who choose to find jobs which pay them cold hard cash.
I love my children dearly—I would walk through hell in a gasoline soaked G-string for them and my husband, make no mistake. They are not, however, my sole purpose; they are a part of my purpose.
The other part is my work coaching men and women. Life without one and only the other, is equally dissatisfying and ultimately soul-killing. This is my experience. It is not everyone’s and this distinction is a crucial aspect that I feel Ms. Pardue-Schultz misses entirely.
What is right for one is not necessarily right for another.
My concern is that in her passionate opinion,she unknowingly aligns herself with her judgement, comparison and ultimately belittling of her fellow sisters with those who wish to disempower.
For her the work of being a stay at home mom is not a job.
Great-good for her! Taking it further and ridiculing other mothers who complain about being pregnant, home with their kids or suggesting that those who consider staying home is a job are “ignorant and condescending” ultimately is a disservice to her and women as a whole.
It’s judgmental, and there is no room for judgement when it comes to feminism.
Feminism is not about the projection of additional rigid expectations on how women should run their lives, but about choice. It’s not about judging how another sister chooses to live, define or characterize her life; it’s about acceptance that we are all individuals, with individual values.
Keep your side of the street clean, right?
What I value, prioritize and consider purpose is not likely to be the same as the woman next to me and that’s just fine. It doesn’t make me right and them wrong, any more than it makes them right and me wrong. It makes us different.
I don’t have any issue with the fact that Pardue-Schultz contends staying at home with children is not truly a job. I have a huge issue with the fact that she tries to make her definition of purpose, value and priority the definition by which we all should live our lives; the value by which we are all judged. That is not right.
We have no idea what another woman is going through.
We don’t know if the woman mentioned in her article who, finally got pregnant and complained about it was working through some unknown wound within her life. We don’t know why a woman chooses to work outside the home or to stay in the home with her kids. We do not walk in their shoes, think through their minds or feel through their hearts. But to pass judgement, to speculate, belies our own defeating of our fellow sisters.
And sadly, most of us do it—it just so happens that Pardue-Schultz wrote an article that many have read.
Stay-at-home-moms, are women whom we should be assisting in lifting up and empowering. Women who, no matter whether we choose to value the same things or not, still need our sisterhood and support. Women who ultimately are already judging themselves against the expectations put upon them and do not need their fellow sisters to do the same.
While I applaud Pardue-Schultz for her courage, in expressing what is surely an unpopular opinion, it’s important that we take from this a lesson that we all need to learn.
When women judge other women for their choices they only serve to further the gap and deepen the resentments that hold us back.
To me, this is more detrimental than some ideology of a patriarchal society stepping on our heads to prevent our ascension.
The only answer available to the question of whether being a stay-at-home-mom is a job, is the answer that each individual woman gives.
How you define what constitutes a job has no bearing on me whatsoever.
I will, however, support the unique and individual decision ,that a fellow sister chooses to make, regardless of whether or not it is the same decision I would make.
This is the sisterhood that has a chance of rising and it’s the only sisterhood I wish to be a part of. I hope that you all join me there.
Author: Laura Brown
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock