Thursday, September 14, 2017

Catholicism, Feminism, and Motherhood



When I was attending my very liberal and intolerant undergraduate university, the buzzword of the moment was "gender roles." As an English major, I spent many arduous hours in class being forced to analyze the systematic oppression of women in literature. According to these radical feminists, the patriarchy was present in every great novel from Heart of Darkness to Peter Pan. Female characters were supposedly portrayed in a menial fashion as mere incubators and housewives, while the virile, cigar-smoking, scotch-swilling white men ran the show in between knocking up their womenfolk. Oh for the freedom of being liberated from the dour duties of motherhood! Oh for the liberation of a paycheck and a high-power job!

With few exceptions, all my peer female students were on the Pill, hooking up for casual sex on a regular basis, and weren't planing on settling down with a man until they had earned 2 PhDs and become the top CEO of Apple. With even fewer exceptions, all my female professors were either childless by choice or had been sterilized after having one boy and one girl. Many of them were divorced, and most of them seemed hell-bent on turning their students into man-hating sexually liberated wymn. 

My least favorite part of class was when we would all go around the room and declare what career path we were striving towards. "I'm going to complete my three majors in political science, gender studies, and philosophy and become an attorney for Microsoft ." "I'm going to get my Masters in Business Administration after I finish my internship with Penguin Random House." And me? "I'm going to marry the love of my life, have as many children as I can handle, and be a stay at home mom who homeschools." 

Just kidding. "I'm going to be a brain surgeon and an astronaut on the weekends." The whole class would guffaw politely, and the professor, after shooting me a death glare, would instruct us to open to Page 57 of The Yellow Wallpaper. I'm no fool--I didn't feel like being eviscerated by hoards of raging feminists. 

Even if she genuinely wants to be a stay at home mom, no girl these days is foolish enough to admit those desires out loud. Motherhood is not seen as an honorable profession, but rather as a regression to the Middle Ages when women were cooks and baby makers and nothing more. 

Many modern professional women look down on motherhood because they think it's taking the easy way out. They think that stay-at-home moms just hang out at home all day eating bon bons and taking scented baths and arranging play dates with other oppressed and lazy stay-at-home moms while driving around a Honda Odyssey on their husband's dime. Motherhood seems like a cop-out from the work force. Those lucky moms--they don't have to be at an office every morning, report to a bitchy boss, or worry about their professional wardrobe--they can roll out of bed in their pajamas and eat whipped low-fat yogurt for breakfast while riding their elliptical. 

Of course, as you stay-at-home moms out there know, this is anything but the truth, and actually rather insulting. The modern world thinks that motherhood is an easy cop-out. The reality is that motherhood and being a stay-at-home mom can be much more challenging than any high-paying, high-power office job. In fact, being a mother AND a wife is like working TWO full time jobs. Ask any stay-at-home mom and she'll tell you that she has very little time to engage in silly follies like manicures and Netflix. The house needs to be cleaned, laundry needs to be done, the kids and hubby need to be fed, diapers must be changed, groceries must be bought, and you still have to put on a happy face for your husband when he gets home from work. It ain't easy. 

Many working moms try and fail to be both career contessa and housewife, and many more just hire out maids and daycare to do the job for them. In fact, most of a working mother's salary ends up paying for daycare, cleaning services, and takeout because she's too busy working to take care of those basic needs for her family. Ironic, isn't it?

But most women can't stand the thought of giving up their careers to stay at home and wash underwear all day while the baby spits up on the carpet. Therefore, they try to be both mom AND office mongol. After all, we're enlightened and empowered women, right? We can do ANYTHING, and better than men can do it, too! But the hard reality is that it is truly impossible to balance a full time job and motherhood. Either one or the other sphere will suffer greatly, and the odds are usually stacked against the children and the home.They are the first to go out the window when a woman's career is at stake. Ask any working mom if she feels like she is doing a good job taking care of her family as well as killing it at the office. The answer will probably be No, and many working moms have a lot of guilt about this fact because they feel like they have to be a Superwoman feminist who can kick ass no matter what she does. 



There is a very significant and powerful dignity in child-rearing and housekeeping that is completely overlooked by our culture today. We leave housekeeping to underpaid and underprivileged minorities from Mexico and pat ourselves on the back for helping create jobs for immigrants. We delegate child-rearing to overworked and under-compensated daycare providers who really couldn't care less about your kid and are just trying to keep all the little brats from biting each other. And we feed our families with high-salt, high-fat, high-price convenience foods that are hastily consumed out of necessity rather than in a spirit of love and fellowship around the dinner table. 

This is not how it was meant to be. There can be joy and peace in keeping a clean house for your family to return to every day. There can be a profound sense of satisfaction in creating a home-cooked meal and feeding your family with your own hands and heart. There is a beautiful and unique opportunity to be a mother and educate and nourish other souls, bringing them to heaven by your example. There is profound dignity in motherhood and in being a wife that cannot be overlooked. A mother is an essential part of the human family, and without a mother, families quickly fall apart. The same can be said for fathers, too, but mothers even more so. 

The Catholic Church treats mothers with the utmost respect and honor, which they rightfully deserve. After all, women are direct partners with God in the creation of new souls. Contrary to popular belief, there are more important things in this world than making money and living in a mansion--namely, the education and preservation of the human family. No other person is more qualified for this role than a mother. Dads are an essential part of this too--let's not forget about them. Together, both men and women take on their very important roles as husband and wife and protect and provide for their families. Of course, not every woman can physically have children, and not all women have the disposition or personality to be good mothers. Many women suffer from emotional and mental issues that motherhood would only exacerbate. Sometimes women need to make a personal decision as to whether or not they are in the position to bring children into the world and raise those children with the love and attention they deserve.

Motherhood and the role of women in the home and family is a greatly underappreciated and overlooked in our culture. But women should not be ashamed to want to be wives and mothers. Being a stay-at-home mom is no less important than being a CEO at a big office. In fact, I would venture to say that motherhood is MORE important than any secular office work a woman could do. Motherhood is the formation of souls, and that has more value than any office work. The work you do at the office now, most people will forget in a few days. The love you pour out for your children, however, by caring for them and most of all, by BEING THERE for them, will have eternal ramifications.

6 comments:

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