Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mama Mia

As most of you know, I'm a big fan of Dooce. It's the five year anniversary of her blog, and for the first time in probably two years, she opened up a comments board on her blog. She wanted to know about moms... moms who stay at home, moms who work, which is better, which each person prefers.

Apparently, Heather (Dooce) gets a lot of slack for staying at home. These folks argue she's slapping the feminist movement in the face by wasting her college education on being a stay at home mom. This, of course, made me revisit my own definition of feminism.

Here, in my comment on her page, you'll see what I came up with:

Hi Heather-

Congratulations on being able to make it work. You are living out my dream. Staying at home, raising a great kid, and writing. For money! It's perfect.

My mom was very much forced into every situation she found herself in. At age 20, she moved to Los Angeles to be an actress, was here six weeks and found out she was pregnant with me, and moved back home to Ohio and married my dad. My dad had a good job for a 26 year old, and she was able to stay home for a while, but eventually, she went back to work part time. She would take me with her when she went in the morning to clean this local bar. I would run around the dance floor, sometimes offering my help, other times just exploring. She and I would have the run of the place.

She continued working part time jobs - housekeeper, receptionist at a ritzy country club, accounts receivable/payable at various businesses. She was always home when I got home from school, until I was about 13. At this point, she'd had 2 more children... my sisters were 5 and 3 when she went back to work full time, and I babysat. Every day after school. Every day in the summer. Until I graduated high school. Today, my sisters feel more like my own children than they do my siblings.

If I could change anything for my mom, I would have had her go to college. She's been unhappy with her work her whole life. She's hated every job she's ever had. However, she would've been unhappy staying at home her whole life as well. I wish she could have gone to college, so that if she wanted to work, she could work at a place she loved. And if she wanted to stay home, it would have been an informed decision, not something she was forced into doing.

I'm a firm believer that the most important thing for a child when it comes to this is to see happy parents. If a mother is stuck at home with her kids (meaning, she doesn't want to be there), the kids are going to sense that. If a mother has a job she loves, and can find the energy and brain space to devote a lot of time to her children, the children are going to see a happy, fulfilled parent. It's most important for YOU to be happy with YOURSELF, to be fulfilled in whatever you're doing, because THAT is what Leta will learn from you.

Personally, I would love to be able to stay home with my children (when I have them). Unfortunately, it doesn't seem likely. Living in Los Angeles, working in cable reality television, being gay (unable to reap any benefits of marriage - so far), and partnered with a beautiful social worker, I'm sure we will both have to work. However, we both enjoy our jobs, and we both love children... so I think we'll make it work and we'll find a way to raise some cool kids.

As for my daughters, I just want them to always have an option to make themselves happy.

Feminism isn't dropping your kids off at daycare and pursuing a high-paying career. Feminism is being proud of being a woman, recognizing what you want, no matter what it is, and finding a way to get it.

So says me.

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