It may be horribly unfashionable for a twenty-five year old to say, but I want to be a mother. I want to be like Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter books: fierce, loving, a pillar of strength and common sense and wisdom. I want to be like one of the heroines in Eva Ibbotson novels. Her books feature people who go through hard things and turn out good. The stories often revolve around war and dysfunctional families and loss, but mostly they are about kindness, intelligence, and passion, especially artistic passion.
In her books, the girls pursue their passions without regard for the personal cost, but with infinite regard for the cost to other people. They are kind, giving, and inspire others to live and be better. One of my favorite heroines is Ellen from A Song for Summer. She is raised by suffragette women- her mother and maiden aunts- who teach her and encourage her to intelligence and intellectual curiosity. She qualifies for more collegiate enterprises, but she follows her passion for cookery and housecleaning instead because it is there that she finds fulfillment.
Because we talk so often about oppression and domestic slavery when we talk about feminism, I think that we are often too quick to dismiss many jobs because people work with their hands. Mechanics, plumbers, electricians, seamstresses, beauticians, etc. Above all, we tend to look down on women or men who are homemakers. These are the people, mostly women, who stay at home and cook and clean and pay the bills and raise the children. We see a woman who stays home with her kids as lazy or not living up to her potential or wasting her intellect or talents.
Feminism is about equality between genders. Part of feminism is allowing women to pursue their passions, whatever those passions may be. That means women lawyers, CEOs, etc. But that also means, or should mean, that women who so desire should be able to stay at home and take care of children and keep house. I also believe that they should be given opportunities to be welders, drivers, plumbers, electricians, etc (despite the fact that few women seem to want these jobs). I don’t see that the feminist movement doesn’t seem to include those jobs. We still hold onto an elitist, classist view that people who work with their hands are lesser, so we aim our daughters (and our sons) for more intellectual positions.
In my wildest fantasies, governments would incentivize one parent staying home with their children. I imagine a utopia where women can work and are paid the same as men, but incentives are in place so that one parent stays home. A man and woman meet, fall in love, marry, have a kid, then decide who will stay home to care for the child. In this utopia, childcare classes and workshops and counseling would be not only available but encouraged and just shy of being required. Children may not be born with instruction manuals, but neither are we Adam and Eve, so there’s material out there. Basically, parents actually parent their children and receive the help they need to not mess up their children.
If this were to happen, unemployment would be less of an issue because there would be fewer workers. Employers may be able to afford giving workers a living wage so that it’d be no longer necessary to have both parents working to pay the bills. Children would have more parental attention and would be raised more by their parents than by the state. Parents would be incentivized to receive education about parenting and maybe we’d have better parents, which would raise better children. We’d be investing in our children. And as we are fond of saying, the children are our future.
This utopia would also hold blue collars equal to white ones. Farmers and plumbers and electricians are just as necessary, if not more necessary than the decision-makers and leaders. Children would not be steered toward colleges as the only way to supposedly make money. Parents would brag equally about their child who became a farmer and the child who became a doctor. We all have roles to play in society, but it is ridiculous to place more value or less value on a person because of their job.
So when I say that I want to be a mother when I grow up, don’t tell me to come up with something else. If we taught our children that being a parent was something to look forward to, maybe we’d have fewer children who grow up alone. If we taught our children about families and the importance of marriages, we’d have fewer children who live double lives as they move from parent to parent. Maybe if we taught people the importance of work and following your passions, we’d have fewer people who hate Mondays, hate what they do, and hate who they are. Maybe we wouldn’t be so scared to bring children into this world. Maybe then we wouldn’t be so scared of a woman who says she wants to marry and have children.