Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This matter of choice

As a freshman in high school up until about my freshman year in college, I was never going to get married. Not only that, I was never having kids. Not only that, but I pitied all of those women who chose to get married, have kids and (puke!) stay at home with their children. What kind of archaic society were these women living in? Didn't they get that women were powerful? Women could (and should) work outside of the home? People fought for these freedoms so women wouldn't have to be a slave to the kitchen/husband/child! How can women believe that being married and staying at home is a good thing?

Fast forward ten years or so, and I'm a happily married, stay-at-home mama of three. How can this be? How could I have I turned into the object of my teenage pity? Easy. I chose to.

Choosing a life of matrimony was easy actually, when I met the man I wanted to marry. The man who took my breath away and painted pictures with his words of rocking chairs and old age. Choosing to marry him wasn't so much a choice as when to marry him. Choosing to commit myself to just him for the rest of my life was exciting, reassuring and perfect. "And guess what," I say to teenage me living inside my head, "I'm still me!" I still love to play volleyball. I still enjoy time alone. I still believe in "saving the environment." I'm still a feminist. I just have a new last name (although so does he...) and someone to hold in the night. Through good and bad, poor and poor-er, we're riding this ride called life together, bumps and all. Lucky for me, he's a good driver and even better passenger. Like I said, an easy choice.

Choosing to have children and then stay at home with them was easy too, once I gave up all of my pre-conceived notions of stay-at-home mamas. Birthing my children and raising them to be good people is one of the scariest, difficult, powerful, awesome things I have ever done. And I'm not through yet. There is so much to teach them, so much to learn from them. Apparently, I didn't know everything as a smart-mouth teenager. "But how can I be a feminist and stay at home, just content to be a mama?" the teenager sneers. Because it was a choice I made. I wasn't forced into this. I don't slave over the stove making pot roasts and wear dresses and aprons and make up. (Okay, well I DO make pot roasts ... from our own animals; I DO wear dresses because I like the flirty feel of them; I DO wear aprons simply because my girls want me to match them when we all bake together; and the make up I wear consists of chapstick and glitter..... so perhaps that sentence wasn't exactly what I was looking for to prove my point.) Additionally, I'm not just a mama. I'm an educator, an advocate, a healer of hurts, a role model and a mama. I made this choice because I wanted to raise my children as consciously as possible. Is there a more powerful choice for a feminist mama to make? I didn't give up anything to do this; I'm not losing anything to stay at home. I still sing. I still have girlfriends. I still contribute to the good of society ... I just don't get a paycheck for it. That's okay. Every morning I choose to be the best mama I can be and each night as I tuck my kiddos into bed, I know I've made the right choice to stay at home with them.

So will the holier-than-thou teenage me ever be content with the choices the adult me makes? I think so. And I don't think that being reminded of who I once was is a bad thing. That teenager consumed with thoughts of what the future holds is still an important part of what makes me who I am today. After all, if the teenage me wouldn't have chosen to leave MO for college in VT - would I even be writing this today?

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