Thursday, March 20, 2014

Still Fighting with Feminism

Somehow, what I considered inconceivable has happened:

I'm a working mom. 

I never wanted to be a working mom. I've always been certain that when I had babies, I'd stay at home with them. It's what I grew up with, and what my husband grew up with - and that's what we both feel comfortable with. It was my dream, honestly.

Yet this is the second time I've been asked to serve as youth director, but this time I've been asked to  stay on permanently. I said yes because I have a deep concern about the program and how its instability is affecting our youth. I found, accidentally, that I have a deep love and passion for teaching our faith to just about anyone - teenagers, adults, young children.

But where does this leave my family? I am strongly believe in the need for a mother in the home. I do think it makes a difference when a family doesn't have someone in charge of their full-time management. This has less to do with some sort of Victorian angel-in-the-home concept, and more to do with practical realities: most women want to stay home once they have children, they want to work on their terms (not the male dominated paradigm of 9-5), and a home functions better when there is someone in charge of it. No one walks into a grand hotel and thinks it looks good and runs efficiently on its own - we know that there is competent management in charge. Yet our homes are so much more than hotels, and spiritually, they are more than a place to put our stuff: they are a place where we need to be able to invest our hearts in our family members.

I believe in the Home. But I also believe in my work. How do I balance these two competing spheres, both of which would take all of my time and energy if I let them?

I'm still fighting with these two parts of my life. On one hand, I hate even the word feminism. I hate what it implies: that equality is only achieved by number parity, that to be as good as men we have to renounce what makes us women, that staying at home is somehow degrading, that our bodies hold us back and should be suppressed. On the other hand, I have personally experienced sexism more frequently than I ever could have imagined - in high school, at all three of my institutes of higher learning, and even in my parish. There is clearly a problem in our society that cannot be completely rectified by trying to force society back into mindsets from past years - because these problems existed then as much as now. And I do think part of the solution is women who are called to work to embrace their work: to bring their feminine charisms to the workplace, and refuse to be objectified or suppressed. (this is much of the message of John Paul the Great's letter to women, Mulieris Dignitatum)

As Catholics, the last thing we should be afraid of is a strong woman with a call to work. Mary, our Mother, is the Queen of the Saints and Angels - Queen of Heaven. The person to achieve the greatest heights of holiness, who wasn't God, is a woman. I am trying to keep that in my mind as I pray my way through this, but honestly, it's sometimes a challenge. I love Mama Mary, but I can't imagine her answering emails, rushing to yoga, negotiating hours. I sometimes struggle imagining her doing anything but happily sacrificing every waking hour to do housework.

Maybe what I'm doing is the most trail blazing thing I could do: refusing to let existing norms dictate what God is calling me to do. There wasn't anyone like St. Catherine of Siena before she existed so...guess I'm out to create another way to be a saint.

1 comment:

  1. " so...guess I'm out to create another way to be a saint."

    Thanks for that last comment, what a beautiful way to put it. Good luck with finding the right balance for yourself between work and home. I'm loving my own job now and we are expecting a little blessing come September so I too will need to find my balance between work and home. Please continue to share in your blog any thoughts or tips you have on the mater, I often find it helps to spur my own thoughts.

    I'll pray that you find the direction and balance you need in this.


Comments make me feel like I'm not just talking to myself or the government (because I know the government secretly reads my blog). Help me feel less crazy - comment away!