Marx Sisters

SAHM vs. WOOTHM
Marx Sisters by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I have the typical, boring opinion on the question of “Should moms stay at home or work outside of the home?” Just like some women are called to a single vocation, some are called to the religious life, and some are called to married life, I believe we are called to contribute to our families in different ways.

Of course, I still believe we are biologically better-equipped for some duties within a marital household, namely those related to bearing and raising children, but men have a great importance in that area as well.

La dee dah, see? Boring and very politically correct.

So let’s talk about Marxist Feminist theory instead.

Bigger, more skirt, please.

I’ve watched six episodes of “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” in the last two weeks. These people fascinate me and before I write you a dissertation about them, I’ll to focus on their strict adherence to traditional family roles. Women marry quite young, some as young as sixteen, and enter a life similar to every “traveller” wife: one centered on taking care of the husband, cooking, child-rearing, and extensive cleaning.

Seriously, these women put sponge to every surface of their homes, everyday. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Their husbands earn the money, have a lot of fun at pubs, and, in their words, “own” their wives. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and anthropologically point out that we do not have a full understanding of their culture in order to call this regressive or stunted. It’s vital we also point out how extremely rare divorce is in their culture.

Marxist Feminist theory feels responsible for sticking up for women after centuries of what its troubadours believe to be wrongful oppression based on societal structure (rather than any relation to biology). This theory holds that a patriarchal, capitalist society demeans women because it enslaves them in the home to perform duties for free that men would otherwise have to hire employees to complete.

Old-timey headache

Marxist Feminists believe women are not properly compensated for the traditional roles they hold, so its supporters believe that as many inequalities between men and women should be flattened out as possible. In other words, it seems these theorists would be at least partially happy to see women receive salaries from their husbands, appropriate for the work they do in the home.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like capitalism more than Marxism.

Here, Marxists try to explain, in capitalist vocabulary, their belief that a lower value is placed on a woman’s day than a man’s and the translation is muddled.

The lasting issue with this theory is that it discourages women from entering a lifestyle Marxist Feminists define as the poorly-valued role, a stay at home mother. Marxist Feminist theory states that, no, it was the  patriarchal, capitalist society that shaped the role to be lower.

However, because the Marxist theory presents no alternative, they shame women away from being stay at home mothers, lest these women accept a shameful label of settling for a regressive lifestyle.

If a card-carrying Marxist Feminist could get their hands on one of these gypsy girls before walking down the aisle in her teens, he or she would try to convince the bride that her life can have more meaning in the eyes of the men of this world. If she could just NOT perform the slave duties thrust upon her as a wife and stay at home, cleaning, cooking mother, she could be much happier and more highly-valued.

Apart from the point that some of these women really do want to live their vocation in the traditional way, perhaps the young bride would have sense enough to point out the unspoken enslavement of the crazed person trying to shake her into the 21st century.

If you’re doing something to spite someone else or to be seen as more valuable in the eyes of a society, who’s the real slave?

The Mother’s Dilemma

Because I’ve been slacking this whole week on my Bright Maiden post, I’ve decided to double it as my 7 Quick Takes for the week! YEAH!


ONE

TBM Topic 33: Stay-At-Home vs. Working Mothers

“The Mother’s Dilemma” by Julie Robison
“On Motherhood” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

TWO

The first thing I think about my childhood is chocolate chip ice cream cones, us kids running through the sprinkler, and my mom wearing a headband and swimsuit while she sat in the sun, watching us and reading. What was she reading, you ask?

Oh, you know. The norm. Her cancer research.

Ironic, I know.

My mom is an oncology clinical nurse specialist – that is, an educator, a researcher, article writer, book editor, and well-beloved member of the hospital she’s worked at for most of my life.

My mom has also been a Brownie leader, Cub Scout mom, volleyball and soccer coach, a good-enough cook, eater and maker of anything involving chocolate, a good listener, too fair of a judge, encouraging card writer, presents just because buyer, and mom to six kids.

These six kids:

We’re the kids your mom probably warned you about

THREE

My mom is super woman. My Dad has had to ask that she not head up so many committees because she keeps getting elected to lead organizations. She was “Woman of the Year” at our high school alma mater, Employee of the Year (twice!) at her hospital, and this year she was nominated for “Healthcare Hero” from her hospital, in a city-wide event.

My mom comes from a family where most women are stay-at-home moms, and she definitely forged her own path. She gave up going to medical school so that she could have more scheule flexibility, since she and Dad wanted lots of kids so she could make us dress in matching outfits for pictures. (See below.)

Christmas card!

FOUR

This choice to work has had its perks and downfalls, but I certainly cannot imagine our family life without my mother working as she does. She’s a role model in how to deal with tricky situations, time management, multi-tasking, and keeping cheerful when the going gets tough. With so many kids, Mom has really been able to help out the family financially. It also provides an outlet for her to receive outside appreciation in an area where she truly excels.

Mom in her makeshift office during hospital renovations

All woman need this kind of outlet: my maternal grandmother is hostess, flower-arranger, tennis player, and thoughtfulness unlimited extraordinaire. One aunt is a speech pathologist and professor; she is also amazing at sewing and handmade most costumes for her two girls, which were consequently passed down to us six (and held up well!).

Another aunt paints and takes wonderful pictures, which is a skill she’s able to contribute to a cancer non-profit she volunteers with. A couple aunts stay at home with their kids and are active at their schools. A couple more work full-time.

All the women in my life have been amazing inspirations for me, and are wonderful at what they do, and this is where I have a beef with this “debate” about women in the work force.

FIVE

There are as many types of mothers as there are children. My mother, for instance, could not work the way she does if she had a special-needs child. My mother could not have worked as she did when we were younger if my parents could not have afforded extra help. My mother might have had to work more if my father was unemployed, deceased, or not around. My mother may also prefer to work so as to better handle her children’s shenanigans (pure conjecture).

We don’t have special needs, we’re just “special”…

My mother is not a stay-at-home mom. She decorates the house for every major and minor holiday, is constantly organizing, and pushes through enough loads of laundry a week to keep her active children clothed. She’s never been much of a cook, but she learned and keeps us kids healthy. As much as she loves us, she loves work too. Moreover, she never neglected us and always makes us feel loved. Just because one woman stays home with her kids, it does not diminish another mother’s out-of-home pursuits.

Moreover, working women is not a “new phenomena.” Women have been putting in their fair share since cave men needed to cook the water buffalo they brought down. So is the question more about equality?

When people say women are being “kept down” because they don’t get paid as much as men, I wonder where those numbers are coming from: is this an apples and oranges comparison? Are different jobs being compared or are men and women working the same job and not being paid the same? (Or is it both?)

Nevertheless, if women’s power is only showed through a paycheck or a work title, then women are being under-sold and under appreciated.

It must be difficult for a woman to feel she is a competent partner to her husband if she herself does not see her work at home as worthwhile. The marriage partnership between men and women cannot be had without mutual understanding, a willingness to pitch in and listen, respect of self and others, and love. It has nothing to do with how many times a person made dinner verses how many times the other person mowed the lawn.

In my life time, I have seen mostly scorn towards the idea of a woman staying home with her children. But isn’t that like teaching? And isn’t teaching a worthwhile venture? The formation of little minds and souls? To overemphasize a woman’s need to be fruitful outside the home diminishes all efforts done within it. Women are so much more than their job title, and motherhood is more than bearing and raising children.

SIX 

As I prepare for marriage, I’m in the midst of planning: planning a wedding, planning a move out of my parents’ house, planning another move out of the state for B.’s residency (starting 6 or so months after the wedding), planning family finances, and planning for grad school.

I’m also planning and praying about working. I’m not convinced the stay at home without working life is for me, nor would I like to have a time-consuming job outside the home with little ones underfoot.

Most of us in super-hot Tennessee

Women have an awesome opportunity to kick “typical” to the curb and try their hand at new adventures. While men have the duty and responsibility to provide for their family, women have the opportunity to create a home. This home will be run according for the parents, their needs and desires, rooted ultimately in the best they can offer their children.

If the woman works outside the home, the family will function as such.
If the woman works in the home, the family will function as such.
If the woman’s work is the home, the family will function as such.

There is no right answer when it comes to one’s vocation, as long as it is properly aligned with God and your loved ones.

SEVEN

I’m excited to be a mom. One way I’m inadvertently preparing for this is my part-time babysitting job for a neighboring family. The mom works from home, and I am so glad I get to help their little unit function well. I get to dress her kids, play with her kids, feed her kids, and cart them around. I know she loves to do that too, but I know it’s also nice to have a break, get some work done, go to an exercise class, get lunch with her mom, and spend time with friends.

In this life balance we seek, kids are only a burden to the unimaginative. Motherhood is a special role only women can fill and it is in our feminine genius to discern how best to serve one’s family in that way. If physical motherhood is not attainable for women (for those called to a religious or chaste single life), then spiritual motherhood is, by being a kind woman children can look up to, other adults can respect, and that awesome aunt kids love to have.

Nothing in this life is less clear-clear cut or for the faint of heart, but being a Mom is certainly the most important job that no one can properly label.

Aunts, Grandmother, Mother: real-life feminine geniuses

What are your thoughts on motherhood and working?

(Thanks to Jen for hosting!)