As little girls, our parents told us, “you can do anything if you set your mind to it,” because they wanted us to reach for the stars, dare to dream, and live out all the other hopeful clichés you can think of. It doesn’t matter if they meant it, because we believed it. As children, we not only became princesses, but we were also able to slay the dragon ourselves. Sure, we did a few shows a night as a ballerina, but we balanced it with our cutting edge research as a medical doctor. We did it all. We were the fearless females who could compete with the boys, but still be in our play kitchen in time to make dinner.
And it rocked. And we rocked.
As we grew up in the age of women trying to be equal, we were urged to never settle for less. Just because we didn’t have genetic testicles, it didn’t mean we didn’t possess lady balls. We were told to find the cure for cancer, to create that business, to be the CPA, and to get paid just as much as the boys. We grew up supported and fought for, so our futures could be bright and equal (we’re getting there). Well, after four years of papers, homework, and tests in both my college subjects and my sanity, I can honestly say the career that will someday make me the happiest is to be a wife and mother.
*Moment of silence for all of my past, forgotten dreams.*
Now, before you start throwing flaming pieces of hate mail at me, give me a second to explain. I’m not anti-feminist (I’d actually put myself more toward the feminist side in a heated, alcohol-filled debate) and it’s not that I don’t think women can’t change the world. Considering the fact that we can do anything a man can do–yes, even strength stuff; just because all of us don’t play football and compete with the boys, it doesn’t mean that our gender as a whole can’t–PLUS the fact that we can create another human being inside our bodies AND bleed without dying for seven days, we can obviously do anything. The sheer willpower it takes to even leave my bed when I take those little brown pills at the end of the month should be reason enough to never again hear the totally dated “men are superior” argument.
The thing is, I grew up with a stay-at-home mom and I told myself that I NEVER wanted that to be me. No offense to my mother–she is an actual angel from heaven–but I always thought that was a pathetic life. So you sit at home, dust a few things, pick your offspring up from school, and make some mediocre dinner for your husband before going to sleep and doing it again, every single day for the rest of your life? Keep me as far away from that horrible fate as possible.
A funny thing happened, however. I went off to college and had the time of my life drinking, partying, and playing with the boys’ hearts. I decided I was going to be famous (#duh) and wouldn’t even think about having kids for a very long time, if ever. As predicted, my senior year, when most college students start actually becoming adults, my views began to focus and change. I was in a serious relationship. I cooked (cooked, as in used an oven, pans, and ingredients) dinner every night. I did laundry. Every week. And I realized just how much work goes into making a home feel “homey.”
Our moms carry us for nine months. They feel that first kick. They give up alcohol (peace be with you). They birth us. They wake up when we cry from the day we are born until the day they leave this Earth (to this day, I could call my mom crying in the middle of the night and she will move the Earth to make me feel better). They drive us places and do our hair. They buy us clothes and sew them when we rip them. They made our favorite meals and packed us lunches with a special note tucked away at the bottom. And the real kicker? Most of the time they don’t even get a thank you. They don’t get to complain to HR about how they’re under-respected or why they deserve a raise. They smile. They power through. And they give it their all every single day of their lives.
Even though I didn’t understand how much my mother did at the time, I realize now how incredibly blessed I was to have a mom who was always there for me. Being able to hop in the car at parent pick up and be greeted by someone who loved me and asked me how my day was instead of sitting on a hot school bus made me feel loved. Having her bring me snacks at school or work made me happy. Fat, but happy. Having her tell me that everything was going to be okay gave me hope. It still gives me hope.
Why is it that a job that is of the utmost importance is almost considered “embarrassing” to strive for? Can you imagine someone asking what you want to do with your life and answering, “I want to be a great wife and mother?” No, because we would not only be ridiculed, but we would be made to feel like we’re settling for less than what we can accomplish.
I thought we were fighting for the right to choose our own paths in life. So what if the path we want is to create a great future for our children, or to support our (currently imaginary) husband while we make a beautiful life together? Does that make us lesser people? Does that mean we aren’t accomplishing our dreams? Feeling worthless because we seek a future with a family goes against everything we have worked so hard for. I’m not saying that I won’t go on to be famous (#RememberMyName) or that I’ll even trick a man into marrying me and having children. What I’m saying is if that ends up being the path I seek, I’m going to be proud. I’m not going to let anyone make me feel like what I’m hoping to achieve is any less important than a corporate career or having the right to call myself a doctor. So what if I don’t want a traditional job? So what if I want to be a stay-at-home mother who makes the lives of my future family wonderful?
So fucking what?
We have the option to do every single career a man can do, plus the most important one in the history of the world. We have the option of having our title be “Mom.”
The thing is, no matter how much we strive for it, men and women aren’t equal. We get the opportunity to be something men could never be–and that is pretty awesome.