Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanks to Feminism

What do you think of when you hear the word, "Feminism"? I usually think of extremist ideas, that oppose families, and hate men. You may have heard of the feminist agenda, which seeks to get girls more attention in the classroom in the name of equality, and want tv shows to portray men as idiots, while the women tend to save the day. It all boils down to anything men can do, women can do better, and aren't inferior to men in any way. Usually I haven't given much thought to feminism. I always figured it had probably risen out of times when men dominated their wives and women were treated as less than equal, often abused or overlooked. Times when women weren't allowed to vote, etc. I just thought that the same movement that brought about equality is now seeking to keep going and swing things the other way.

But lately I've come to realize how feminism has affected me personally. There's a milder version of it that isn't debunked, but generally accepted among us non-extremists. It's what is leading to the prominence of 2-income families. And it has caused me to rethink my life's goals.

I recently had an "Ah ha!" moment, where I saw how God has been working in my life for the last 10 years. Since at least 8th grade, I had had a "plan" for my life. I expected to go to college, earn a degree in business, build my own company, be completely financially self-sufficient/ independent, buy my own home, then get married, and have kids. I figured I'd stay home with them until they started elementary school, then back to my career. Basically it would just be a hiccup in my work, a pit stop along the road of life. However, in the middle of my freshman year of college, God suddenly turned my plan upside down when He showed me that these were not His plans. And He wasn't going to give me the full view, as I had already planned. He wanted me to surrender my life and future to Him completely, being willing to give up all my dreams. I actually came back home and just started a community college because I didn't know what my degree was any more. I thought surrendering my plan meant becoming a missionary. Eventually God led me to date/marry Chuck, and to get a seminary degree. That kinda deflated any plans of being self-sufficient and running my own business. So my thought was that we'd have our family, they'd start elementary school, then back to work. But lately God's been showing me that my desire for a career is not righteous.

Let me explain first what I don't mean by that. I don't mean that it's wrong for women to work. I know there are societies even today where women aren't allowed to work, and are oppressed because of it. I'm grateful to know that if Chuck was disabled or died (cringe), that I could work to provide for myself and my kids. And I know there are other situations where women have felt God call them to work, even with little kids. Sometimes it is just necessary, and may God bless those women who have to work!

But for me, it's a matter of worth. I've never felt right not working. Like I'm not pulling my own weight, like I'm just mooching off my husband. This guilt has nagged me for quite some time. And now I've talked to other women who feel the same way. I once knew a woman with twin babies who went to work, at a loss, where they were actually having to pay more than she made. She even took every opportunity for overtime, also because it was a break from her kids. And now with two little ones of my own, I can completely understand that temptation.

I know in my head how important it is to be home with my kids. I can see how it improves our lives and our relationships. And honestly, it's cheaper than paying a daycare and working. Between being in a higher tax bracket from Chuck's income, to paying for daycare and gas, I'd have nothing left! Just not worth it at this point.

But that doesn't stop the little tug of guilt, of "You're not worth anything because you're not making a salary." On the opposite side, I know a family who made great sacrifices, giving up their largest income for the wife to stay home when they had kids, and while it has hurt greatly financially, you should see how loving and healthy this family is! She supports her husband, and her kids are just beautiful kids, living a great childhood.

So everytime I've prayed for God to give me a job, He's given Chuck a raise. I'm starting to realize His point here. And now He's shown me how feminism has skewd my understanding of my role in my family. In general, God designed man and woman as equal...but different. They're complements to one another. It's easier and better for the man to provide and protect, and easier and better for the woman to nurture and support. That is a woman's place. Not to be dominated or abused, but both sides are to be serving one another. It's my job to support my husband, as well as my kids. There's a little bit of a new idea to me. I knew I'd support him, but this was not my top priority, over my career. When I worked outside our home, I saw how the two can sometimes clash. Times when Chuck was sick and needing my care, but I couldn't get off work. Now I know I should've been home.

So while I'd planned on returning to work someday, now I'm not so sure. Of course if circumstances change, I'll work. But staying home is my place at this point. It's taken me a long time to realize this. And let me temper this with, staying home isn't the end of it. There are plenty of distractions at home, too, just like work, where I have to keep my focus on the needs of my kids (and not blogging all the time--ha!). I know I'm speaking generally, so please don't think I'm judging someone else's situation. But if you're working because you think you have to in order to be worth something to your family, maybe you, like me, need permission to do what God's called you to do, without false guilt, but with confidence, knowing that this calling of being a wife and mother is greater than any career success.

Take that, feminism! I'm done with you.


Angie said...

Comment from Anna Villareal:

I'm really glad that you posted this... Just the other day Charlie and I had a big debate on this same subject...

I thought that if when we have kids that i would stay home for about a year, then go back to work... Because like you, I would feel very useless and needy if I decided to just be a full time mommy and wife... After debating for a good 2 hours he stressed to me that just giving him the joy of starting a family with me was worth more than anything and that when he goes to work every day it is to provide for his family (just me at this point in time ;) ) and that i should never feel useless because it never has crossed his mind. So after that talk we have decided that once we do get married (in July) and start a family (a while after july, haha) I'm going to be a stay at home mom and not feel guilty. Although things do change, that's where we stand on this subject. So yeah... Take that, feminism. LOL.. Love ya'll!

Angie said...

Comment from Angie:

I love it, Annie! Thanks for sharing this with me! Love you too!