My First Try…

My children are all asleep upstairs, and I am enjoying one of those quiet moments of mom-dom. Nevermind that is is the middle of the night and I will be dead-dog tired tomorrow; I am alone now, and I am happy!
I never meant to start a blog. A few months ago, I didn’t even know what a “blog” was. Its kind of a funny word, like mud plopping. I wanted to post a reply to something else I had read on Mormon Mommy Wars, and to do so I had to have my own URL. So here I am. The post I was burning to reply to was a young woman who was scathingly critical of women who choose to stay at home with their kids and “give up their identities” and get an allowence from their tyranical husbands, and all sorts of outdated, stereotypical and depressing ideas. At first I was mad at her, but the more I read, the more compassion I felt for her- she is just a young thing with a head full of ideals (now I am generalizing, but hey, its my blog!). Anyway, here is the letter I wrote to her. It made me feel better, and I think its a pretty true and accurate depiction of my life. You can find her original post at “Stay at Home Non-Mom”

Dearest Poco

Mormon Mommy Wars is where I was introduced to your blog and opinion on stay-at-home mothers. At first I was offended on so many levels, I couldn’t possibly begin to tell you, but once I read your reply on MMW, my outrage mellowed into reason. I have also read some of your other posts, and now I want to communicate to you some of what someone from the “other side” feels. You seem like a sensible and intelligent young woman, and my hope is to open a dialogue, and not to chasten or alienate you. I am pleased that you have turned your “comments” option on.

While I do not deign to speak for all stay-at-home moms and housewives, I know that my circumstances are not unusual. I am a “housewife” and I stay home with my small sons. However, I am educated, literate, well-traveled and I was formerly the vice-president of a Silicon Valley company. I have chosen to stay home. It was a decision my husband and I made together; not only was my husband supportive of my desire to be at home with our child, but when I chose to do so, we gave up the larger income. My husband was neither threatened nor opposed to my decision; we were and are, in this together. There will come a time when I can return to the career world- it will still be there, but my children will only be small for a short while.

You pondered in your post “perhaps I am biased”. Maybe, but I tend to think perhaps you are young and naïve. I do not intend offense at that; it is my honest observation after reading your other posts. It is entirely reasonable and even expected that a young woman such as yourself would have the opinion you do. The collegiate environment is rich with ideals such as you profess. (And I am assuming you are a recent college grad) I was much like you less than ten years ago.

You claim that you are looking out for the “best interests of your female counter-parts”. Sweet sister, I am not repressed, and I do not require anyone to look out for my best interests. By making a statement like that, not only are you implying that I cannot fend for myself, but you are dishonoring and disrespecting the choices that I have made. You have, in essence, put me in a box, just as you accuse society and men of doing. This is something I cannot and will not accept.

One of the problems I have with modern “feminism” viewpoints is that I must conform to what the popular ideals are in order to be one. If I form my own opinion, and it differs from the accepted cannon, I am somehow misinformed or repressed. True feminism, or equality, is what allows me to form my own opinion, and make my own decisions with joy. I have read and subscribed to Ms. Magazine, Utne Reader, Mother Jones, Z, Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinem and many others, yet I found myself less and less represented in their written word. In my opinion, modern feminism also often requires the subjugation and emasculation of men. Putting down a man does nothing to improve a woman’s status; it diminishes us all. As the mother of sons, this is impossible for me to abide. I am choosing to stay home and raise responsible, caring, compassionate, kind and loving men; the kind of men you might want your daughter to marry. If that is not contributing to society in a positive manner, I am at a loss for words. (and that doesn’t happen often)

In your post, you wonder, when a woman is at home, what happens if her relationships should dissolve? What becomes of her identity? There are no guarantees in life; you know that. You cannot live in fear of what might happen. As a mother and wife, I love fiercely and deeply, and in the unlikely event of my marriage ending, I would be a better person for the time I have been here. I would pick up the pieces of my life and carry on. I still have my interests, my intelligence, my education, and I have hope. There are women who do live vicariously through their loved ones; however, most of us do not.

There is no doubt that housework and caring for young children is repetitious; however the idea of my husband being my boss is absurd. Your ideas on being at home are astoundingly provincial and almost like something out of a 1950’s advertisement. They are not based in today’s real world, but more like a model out of an old homemaking text book. There are no allowances or accounting for time or money, not for me or for him. I know of no one whose husband comes home and expects a spotless house and tidy children and dinner on the table. My husband knows how crazy my days can be, and he is in this with me. We share the responsibilities. We do not keep track of who did what when. When you love someone, you give to them, as I am sure you do to your husband, and he to you. We are no different.

I met my husband when I was 17, but he had to propose 3 times over ten years before I finally agreed to marry him. (How’s that for persistence?) Even after two kids, we are still madly in love. And, our boys will have a wonderful model of what a healthy relationship looks like. I am proud of that. I devoted most of my twenties to my career, and I don’t regret it. But for now, I have chosen another path, and it is a path that should be respected and honored, just as the women who choose otherwise should be respected. We do no one a favor when we tear each other apart for our differences. I have seen this issue from both sides, and both sides are just fine. In the future, please be kinder and gentler with your sisters who have chosen to raise their families themselves.

If you feel that children are not right for you, it is certainly best that you do not have them. There is little worse than an unwanted child. And you and your husband are perfectly valiant to make that choice together.

I hope some of what I have said will spur you to think on this topic a little more. You never know where your life will take you, and you just might be closer to me than you think.

With Kind Regards
Tracy M.

8 thoughts on “My First Try…

  1. While I understand your need to be respected for being a SAHW, do I require your respect for being a student? No of course not. You decided to stay home to benefit YOUR home, and YOUR family, why should that be anymore respected than me being a student. Both jobs are for our own purpose of self growth and enrichment. Why should others go out of their way to “respect” and “applaud” that choice.

  2. Where, exactly, did I say that I deserved more respect than you? And where, exactly or tangently, did I say that anyone should go out of their way to applaud me?
    You have fished on sites devoted to women like me for an audience for your own opinions, and why you expect to find it, I do not know. What you cannot seem to understand, is that I was once so like you it is uncanny. Therefore, I do claim the priviledge of having a little more hindsight and foresight. Please re=read the letter.

  3. Okay I would like to say I never “fished” for any websites about mothers. They found me:P In fact the FMH found me, and put me on their blogroll! Where I was then posted about on MMW. I never asked to have a post created about me, be introduced to the world of MMW, but you have to understand if someone comes and picks on your ideology and personal blog and makes a mockery and attack of it, for their own amusement/discussion, that is not exactly the kindest thing to do. Afterall it was my personal blog, and never invited anyone to it. So while I have been made out to be some sort of self absorbed, snotty little college girl, you have to understand I never looked for an audience for my own opinions but better yet, MMW found my blog and an audience to react to it.
    I will now re read your post.

  4. Fair enough with your first post which this letter is in response to. But the second, most recent post, you definately posted on MMW suggesting we read your latest.

    All of that aside, I appreciate your response tonite on 11/4. You posed some actual questions and voiced some of your fears, and if you wish to discuss this with me further, feel free to e-mail me. If not, thank you for the civil and courteous and honest reply.
    Tracy

  5. Okay-so here are my thoughts. I have re-read your post and thought about it with more clarity. Initally my anger was over the fact that MMW without my permission made a mockery of my most personal thoughts, for their own debate. They made personal attacks about my character, because they did not like my blog and posts, which of course they found on their own. So clearly I was not about to be kind to those who just ripped my blog (most personal thoughts) apart. That aside, I re-read your post, and have come at it with a different approach. I see you were being kind, and I see how being a SAHM has affected you. You know I have met and run into so many SAHMs who were depressed, unfullfilled individuals who were consumed with thoughts of their children, and could barely hold a conversation outside of the relam of diapers, baby bottles, and baby einstein. That is depressing!!! I am sure you would agree that is sad, and depressing. In conclusion, I see you are a positive example of being a SAHM and that is terrific for you. You are blessed to have that choice, I don’t think it’s a choice for me. I have never been comfortable with the sacrifices this society demands of mothers, and not of fathers. But I should say my post about SAHMs is not all that antiquated, there are many who feel the way I describe. I glad it does not apply to you or everyone at MMW.

    Thanks for your post.
    Adrianne–>

  6. Well put Tracy. I know a couple of families who have managed to find a way for Mom to stay home, and I think their contribution to a healthy and happy family is unquantifiable. With both Veve and I out running the rat race, we often lament the limited time we have with Adri and Jojo… And it’s more than spending quality time with them. It’s about having the extra time required to show them that gnocchi doesn’t always come out of a plastic bag or that plants come from seeds, not 6-packs at the Home Depot.

    I wonder though since your first post here two years ago, if public opinions haven’t changed, or how you think the Internet has opened new doors for SAHMs?

    – Paul

    BTW… I note with interest that your first blog post was on my wedding anniversary with Veve. Funny.

    • Hey Paul! You went waaaay back into the archives! I was very passionate about making my voice heard on this issue- hence the impetus for my blog. It’s turned into much more for me, and yes, I think the internet has been beneficial for getting women’s voices heard that otherwise might not have historically had an outlet. I have certainly benefited from attention my writing has garnered.

      Coming up on my four year anniversary in blogging, (eons in internet life!) it’s still very viable and important to me- I like having readers, but I would write regardless.

      Right now, David and I are dealing with his being laid-off and trying to figure out what next. Our kids are 7, 5 and 3 now- and much has changed. But balancing it all hasn’t. It’s alway a ride, isn’t it?

      Happy anniversary to you! Your kids are adorable, and I love that you seem content. You’ve always been a great guy, and I’m very happy for you and Veve.

  7. Yes… for a moment I thought it was 2007. LOL.

    Thanks for the compliment 🙂 I’m sending all kinds of good karma your way and I hope things get back on track for the M clan.

    Do you have another site with more pictures of your art?

    Cheers!

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