Don’t Patronize Me

First of all, I love my children. Let’s get that out of the way, right up front. My kids are the coolest, funniest, most creative, most compassionate, most Dr. Who-watchingest kids I’ve ever known. They bring so much joy into my life, it’s ridiculous.

I take good care of my kids. Let’s get that out of the way too. I feed them, clean up their vomit, help them with their homework, remind them, “You are not actually Batman and can not jump from the sofa to the recliner.”

I work hard to make sure they don’t grow up to be total assholes. Like, seriously, that’s the whole goal, right? I teach them to love others, to be generous, to practice empathy.

Being a mother is an important and rewarding part of my life, but it’s not my whole life. It might not even be the most important part of my life.

I’ve lost you, haven’t I?

Look at it this way… how long am I going to live? I’ll probably make it to about 85 (unless I take up BASE jumping). How many of those years will I be raising children? Roughly a quarter of that time? Am I really incapable of doing important things during my other >60 years on this earth?

But motherhood is forever, you say. Well, that’s true. I don’t suddenly stop being  a mother when my kids turn 18. Though, priorities do shift after your children are grown up and making their own decisions in life.

For now, parenting my children is a top priority for me. But that should apply to all parents of young children—fathers included. We don’t often hear about how fatherhood is the most important thing a man ever does, but we hear that all the freaking time about mothers.

Being a “good mother” isn’t all a woman with children can aspire to.

We don’t expect fatherhood to be enough for men, so why do we just assume that motherhood is enough for women? I’ll straight up tell you, being a mother isn’t enough for me. I can be a good mother and a whole lot of other things.

If you feel like being a mother was your calling in life, who am I to argue with you? I’m not judging other women here. I’m expressing my own frustration, and that has nothing to do with how other women choose to live their own lives.

I don’t appreciate having my entire identify defined by the fact that I have two short people running around, asking me for “just one more snack”. I don’t appreciate being patronized by people who say a woman’s most important work is parenting her children. What about all the women who’ve made huge contributions to society as a whole? Are you going to say it’s more important that they raised children instead of doing things that have benefited us all? Do we look at fathers who’ve done great things for society and think that their work as fathers was the most important work they’ve done?

So don’t pat me on the head and tell me how important motherhood is. I know I’m just a silly, irrational, overly emotional woman and all, but I already know that parenting is important work. I don’t take my work as a parent lightly, but I don’t take any of my work lightly.

If we want to talk about what’s most important, what could possibly be more important than doing God’s work? Is any Christian out there going to tell me that wiping snot and teaching fractions is more important than following God if he calls you to more than that?

Sometimes God calls mothers to be more than mothers. Sometimes motherhood isn’t the job. It’s a job.

Some mothers heal the sick and save lives. Some mothers fight for justice. Some mothers spread the gospel. What’s more important than that for a Christian?

Sometimes God calls fathers to be only fathers. Sometimes it isn’t a job. It’s the job.

Parenting (by both mothers and fathers) is important. I’m just tired of hearing about it being a woman’s most important role. It sounds like a way of saying, “Oh, come on now, sweetheart. Can’t you just be happy with this? Why reach for more?” and when I do reach for more it’s all, “You mean you’re willing to sacrifice your children to be successful? Don’t you love your kids?”

Should I be willing to sacrifice my children’s well-being to achieve my goals? Of course not. I’m not talking about working 60-hour weeks to maintain an affluent lifestyle. I’m talking about following your call, not achieving financial success. Women are capable of following more than one calling. We can be called to motherhood and something else—just like men can be called to fatherhood and something else. And you know what the most important thing I do for my children is? I teach my daughters they’re allowed to be more than just a wife and mother when they grow up.

But, Kristy, women are just naturally more nurturing. They’re so much better at taking care of children. That’s why we “honor” them as mothers. It’s God’s plan/how we evolved/how-we-evolved-because-God-wants-women-at-home-with-the-kids. For thousands of years, women cared for the children at home while the man went out.

Yeah. You know what he was going out to do? To hunt for some meat. So, go shoot me something big and scary and then we’ll talk.

By following their call, what men are doing isn’t hunting or providing for their families. What they’re allowed to do is reach beyond their family to do good for society as a whole. It’s okay for them to follow their call and reach for a level beyond survival, while women are just expected to ensure the next generation makes it. Women are expected to focus inward, on the family, while men get to focus outward on the rest of society.

That’s some serious bullshit.

Men should feel comfortable focusing inward on their family just as much as they focus outward. It’s important for fathers to actively parent their children. And women should feel comfortable focusing outward just as much as they focus inward. The kids aren’t going to starve to death or knock over a liquor store just because Mom helps victims of sex trafficking.

Hey, maybe there are mothers in your life who love it when you tell them their most important work has been raising their families. I believe some women are called solely to motherhood (just as some men are called solely to fatherhood) So, great. Go tell them that. Just don’t apply that to all women and try to peddle it here.

2 Comments

  1. Kristy, I found your blog through our mutual friend (http://bishopkenneth.tumblr.com/) and have loved reading it but this is the first time I have commented. How can I not? This is the best explanation I’ve read for why Mother’s Day makes me so grouchy! Yes! And a thousand amens! And I would add, we don’t even necessarily have to be doing noble things like freeing sex slaves to be doing the most important job. Sometimes the most important job is just surviving whatever season we are in at the moment. Sometimes surviving means working for a living at a job that is not what we would choose to do if we had a choice, but sometimes there is no choice. I was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years before going back to work full time. I’ll never forget an event that happened while my husband and I were wrestling with whether or not it was time for me to start looking for work to help us survive: I had been school shopping with my ten year old daughter, and we went to Chipotle to pick up some dinner after the busy day. As we were walking in, another mom and her daughter of about the same age were also walking in. The mom was dressed professionally and it was obvious she had just gotten off work, picked up her daughter, and they were laughing and talking as they walked in. The thought hit me at that moment: “Working moms love their children too.” What a silly thought. I was ashamed the moment it entered my head. Of course they do. Of course we all do. Of course there are a million different ways for a million different families to live and love and we will all be okay, by the grace of God.

    Reply
    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. I completely agree with you. When I was younger, I had it in my head that I’d stay home once I had a baby. When it happened, my husband stayed home instead while I worked. It was best for our family at that time.

      Reply

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