Raising Parents: Teaching Our Kids that Parenthood Is a Noble Career
By Theresa Novak on March 19, 2013
Last week, I read this post by Penelope Trunk that basically stated that the whole Marissa Mayer thing at Yahoo debases people for wanting to be parents. I don't know that I agree with that. The part of Penelope Trunk's post that really stuck with me, though, was the idea that not everyone is created the same way, not everyone wants that career, or maybe they want that career but being a parent is their priority in their thirties. Penelope goes on to state in this post, that many girls/women only want to work part-time and should be prepared for home life.
I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, the whole Women's Liberation/feminist movement was in full swing. Moms went to work and fed their families convenient microwave processed crap dinners. Elementary school kids went home to empty houses and thus, the term "latchkey kids" was coined; teens ran around the streets unsupervised. Girls were taught that we should not want to stay home and raise babies, that we would not live up to our potential and never be respected if we wanted to be stay-at-home moms; we should work hard and excel and want to wear a hideous business suit with shoulder pads and a shirt with a Peter Pan collar and a little bow-tie and show men that women could do what they can do. I grew up completely believing in all of that and having a list of career dreams.
Then I had a baby and the whole world twisted on its axis when I decided that I could not, no how, no way leave this precious, beautiful, perfect, vulnerable baby in a nursery with eight other babies where she was just a number. I wanted to be the one to pick her up when she cried and feed her and make sure her diapers were clean; I wanted to coo at her and cuddle her and I would sacrifice anything for that -- heck, I would cut off my arm for her!
I was not alone. The result of Gen X growing up with career moms who were seldom home is that more moms either are working part-time than full-time or would rather work part-time than full-time. We have also created everything from Baking with Baby classes to Baby Gym classes to lessons for almost everything under the sun, not to mention all kinds of fun play places or learning places for birthday parties and day trips. I think there is a direct correlation between a generation of parents who grew up with their parents being more absorbed in career than family and this generation's desire to do something COMPLETELY different for their own children and entertaining them every waking minute. Personally, I don't think either is completely healthy... everything in moderation, people, everything in moderation.
It seems that some bloggers' children know exactly what they want to be when they grow up and I am always trying to get an idea from my girls of what they may want to do. I observe their interests, we talk about different careers. I would love to find them mentors... if only I knew what they were interested in doing. Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball that could tell me what they will be when they grow up so I know if we should really go full-tilt with science or devote more time to art or find a mentor for something. But my girls really seem clueless as to what career they want when they grow up.
The one thing they do consistently say, however, is that they both want to be moms when they grow up. They know what kind of houses they want and how they want to decorate their houses. My girls both like to help in the kitchen and neither really minds helping to clean the house. They like rearranging furniture and organizing a room. Allie now has gerbils and fish that she meticulously cares for as if they were her babies; after less than two weeks she has the gerbils eating out of her hand!
I cringe when I think of what I say to my girls when they tell me they want to be moms when they grow up, "Well, that is nice and you will be a great mom, but what do you want to do to earn money?"
It is so ingrained in me -- a stay-at-home mom -- that being a mom is not a worthy goal. Being a mom is not good enough. Being a mom is second fiddle to a career; because, really, you should want a career. But, you know what? I think a lot of girls just want to be moms. It's what they were born to do. Sure, maybe when their kids are older they will get a job or even start a career, but it's in their DNA to want to take care of houses and babies and their husbands. What if it is NOT in their DNA to want a career?
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