Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Kids Are OK

So, all Good Feminists know Retro Housewives are A Bad Thing, right ?

( Thank goodness for bloggers like Blue Milk and The Blasphemous Homemaker who do a wonderful job of articulating a coherent and complex reply to some of the more didactic commentators out there. Myself, I'm only good at snarky capitalisation.)

One of the more mind-boggling criticisms of stay-at-home-mothers I've come across in the past week is the accusation that staying at home teaches and reinforces sexist roles and attitudes in our children.

I did a little investigative reporting at the dinner table last night.

Both girls reported feeling no familial pressure to grow up and become stay at home mums. Some eye rolling then ensued as I pursued the topic of whether they felt capable and able to have a career as an adult. Arwen looked at me like I was insane. Lucy kindly said, yes, they knew about Having a Career and the odds were good they'd have one.

With Yoshi I went for a simple yes and no.

"Hey, you know mums can go to work outside the home, right ?"


"And dads can stay home and take care of children ?"

"Yes." Long suffering tone...Mum has bee in long will this inane questioning over things we take for granted go on ?

Satisfied that neither of the girls felt apron-related Retro Mum oppression or that Yoshi was a cave-man in waiting, I turned my attention to the reasons they may have escaped my pernicious influence. 

Reason One: Me. Sure, I set a bad example with my evil muffin baking ways but I counterbalance this with a healthy dose of liberal education.

Reason Two:  I'm the primary care-giver around here. Have been for the last 1.5 decades. But even in this regressive set up, due to the nature of C's work, he's at home as much as he's out. There's a blurring of lines when one or both parent works from home - no-one gets to claim Home, no-one belongs to Work.

Reason Three: All the kids have seen me work from the time they were tiny, and I'm not just talking about scrubbing the toilet. They've seen me study, volunteer as a breastfeeding counsellor, run book clubs and theater groups and children's co-ops. They've seen me teach for pay at a school and a library. They've seen me write. They've seen me run meetings. They've seen me tutor for cash. Even though my main job is parenting, they haven't lacked a female model of work.

Reason Four - All kids - yes, even the homeschooled ones! - live in a community. And what do you know ? They've grown up with a grandmother who works. Aunties who work. A grandfather who does grandchild-care. Friends of mine who work part-time. Neighbours whose dad stays home while mum works full-time. Jeez Louise, they are not stupid, my kids. They understand that the way we live is one among many. And that they are free - or as free as men and women can be in a consumerist society - to chose to live in a way that corresponds with their values and beliefs.

At which point we find ourselves back at the liberal education I spend my days providing...

The kids are OK.

Or, as Arwen says: Mum, get over it.


  1. LOL - gotta love Arwen!

    I stay home, but my son doesn't seem to think that's what all women should do. Not sure what my daughter will think. Right now her main concern is how her feet taste. Hubby would like to see our daughter grow up to be a scientist. Well, she's investigating her toes right now.

    Hubby and I are both feminists, and while our relationship might appear to belie that (he's "in charge" because we both decided that's the way it would be), we found what works for us. I'm one of those people who is on the "Feminism is about equality and choice" side of things.

    Does being a SAHM with a writing and editing career she pursues from the comfort of her own home mean I'm setting a bad example? What if I didn't have a career beyond my children? Would that be bad too? Am I asking too many questions? Should I just listen to what your very intelligent daughter said?

    Yes, I think I will. :)

  2. Arwen. Lol.

    You're a kick-ass SuperSAHM in SO many ways!

    Dh is probably more of a feminist than I am.
    Ds saw me work like a crazy person until we started homeschooling.

    But we live in SUCH a sexist village... most women here tend to the fire, make tortillas, and wash clothes all day. No yoga, no socializing, no taking the kids to the park.

    I hope all the talking we do at home balances that out in Ds's conception of the flexibility and interchangeability of roles and choices.

    Going to check out those links!

  3. SuperSAHM!!! I love it!!!

    Maybe I should knit myself a superhero cloak. LOL.

    Take that, capitalist feminsim!!!

    Interestingly, the only issue the girls raised about working was a concern that they may be paid less than men.