"Some mothers work because they have to -- others for their own fulfillment." And there it was -- it might has well come in the form of a back-handed slap. Somehow because I am sensitive about my fulfillment -- that it's private and not for outside commentary, I felt like this sentence filleted me and left me for dead. I am overly sensitive for sure -- but on this topic, my sensitivity is off the charts. When pressed, do I have to work? Couldn't we downsize or live more frugally on my husband's income? Yes. Is my own fulfillment an appropriate reason to leave my son? Is that really the only purpose of my work? Somehow "my own fulfillment," sounded about as reasonable for a mother as a heroin addiction.
My daughter strides through the doors of St. Something or Other, sits herself sideways in a seat at a low table, and starts to color. So begins her life as a school-aged child. Consequently, this moment also serves to kick the life out of my five year stint as her fulltime stay-at-home mom. Well then. What now?
The women portrayed in the article are certainly decent people who care about the generation of kids they are raising. Mothers who work outside the home care just as much. Neither group represents a vanguard of social change; instead, most of us embody the compromise of an ideal. Setting up false divisions between people who have the same basic goal (raising kids) splinters any ability that we might have to form coalitions and address inequities. Historically, the most truly revolutionary social reforms are derived from a combination of upper class benevolence, lower class radical agitation, and a healthy dose of middle class pragmatism. We should stop arguing and start planning. Our kids deserve better choices than what we were offered.