I am grateful to have a guest post from Mama Raw today. If you have not had a chance to check out the writings of this fierce and sensitive mama, I highly recommend that you do. Her words are beautiful and spot on.
Sneaky Gender Roles
My daughter asked if her friends’ dads go to work like her dad does.
“And the moms are at home with the kids?”
Uh, er, yeah.
Sneaky gender roles.
Because her daily life consists of women who are home tending to children, I worried my daughter would think she had no other choice than to be a stay-at-home mom. I worried she’d think women aren’t qualified for “real jobs.” I worried she’d think her own mother inferior for not pursuing some (non-) passion with a financial incentive.
It’s important to me she recognize I am an individual outside of being a mother. I want her to know it was the first work I did after college that set me on the path to a field I was passionate about and a graduate degree in it. I want her to know I was never more myself than when roaming the mountains in the company of our dog, and better yet, in the company of her dad. I want her to know her dad and I “retired” several times as twenty-somethings to pursue adventures in hedonism, freeing me to surrender to motherhood in my thirties.
But I don’t want her to hear these stories and know me as an individual only in the past tense–what I used to do or who I used to be.
Beyond a stay-at-home mom, who am I now?
“Mother” ensnares me. It is the descriptor that first comes to mind, and the title from which all else emanates. She must know then that my evolution began the minute her bare, primal-scented body was placed on mine and with each passing day since I have become more fully myself.
She is the impetus and the inspiration for putting written words together to form sentences and sentences together to form paragraphs and finding freedom in the process. It was she who released the aggressive streak that eluded my high school soccer coach for four years–a mama grizzly guarding her cub. It was her birth that empowered me and sparked a passion for aiding others in their journey into motherhood. And should I call myself an intactivist, then the road to such began with a search for truth one winter day while pregnant, not knowing the baby would be a girl.
But those are obvious. Other changes are more subtle: reserves of strength, deep wells of love, and hillsides in shades of green I’ve never known before. A vastness of ethic and work ethic, integrity and inventiveness, daring and dedication.
I hope she understands who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming.
My daughter is not quite three-years-old. There is plenty of time for her to meet women who put on pantsuits and heels, or flowy, flowery skirts and Birkenstocks, or Carhartts and hiking boots, or sports bras and soccer cleats and leave their houses to work. She will learn through them that her mother’s route is not the only one.
Regardless of the path she chooses for herself, I hope my daughter will possess the confidence to dream big and the bravery to turn dream into reality.
If stay-at-home mom is the role she, too, is meant to play, then I’ll applaud her conviction and fearlessness and help guide her children to better understanding of who their mother was–and is–and may choose to become.
Ashley is in love with “the hot guy from biology,” an intensely observant little girl, and a mild-mannered baby boy. She daydreams about returning to her career as an environmental educator, birth doula-ing, writing for profit, and traveling around the world. She masquerades in the blogosphere as Mama Raw.