Thursday, November 15, 2007

A feminist housewife

Dear Jadyn and Liana,

"What will you do?" your Da! asked me one day, not long ago.
"You know, when they start school?" he continued, with caution and perfect-Da! thoughtfulness.
I will continue writing, I immediately snapped.
It is my mission to never have to return to another office-like setting again unless it's my own business.
It is my purpose to make sure that I will always be home when you get home from school.
Just because these early years pass too fast and I don't want to miss them doesn't mean I want to miss any of the rest.
Just the opposite.
I want to be there when you get home to offer you a snack, to help you with your homework, to find some form of physical activity to engage in.
Perhaps more than anything, those days will be most important to me of all.

****

As you grow into girls and then adolescents and then into teenagers, I want you both to take a hard look at what makes you most happy.
It could be that, at this moment, a boy makes you happy.
That is fine.
Follow your dreams.
But, never give up on the fact that you might change your mind, you might discover something bigger, brighter or more heavenly just ahead, around the curve.
And when you see it just stop and enjoy it.
Find the peace in that moment.
You will know when it's time to move on.

****

I hope as you read these blog posts on some crazy archiving machine in your college library that you aren't hurt or sad by my words, that you don't pity me for becoming Just a Mom.
Rather, I hope that you will take the time to search through that same machine all the words that I typed over the years as a writer and journalist.
Sure, I cooked your meals, brushed your hair and helped you make crafts.
Now and then, I even folded your clothes or baked cookies.
Those are just jobs that all moms do and much better than I.
Just like you, I followed my career dreams. I lived that world -- and it still feels like I spent a lifetime doing so.
All along I was dreaming of you, though.
When my career-life was over, just like a great novel, I just knew it was complete, for me.
Perhaps you will find a profession that will lead you all over the world. One that will bring you satisfaction and peace.
In the end, you may decide to become Just a Mom yourself.
Or not.
That's the beauty of being an American woman.
The choices.
They are yours to make over and over.

****

The day may come for me when I wonder why I chose a life that keeps me more housebound than ever. I may suddenly miss being that working woman who gets coffee breaks and chats with co-workers.
I may keep wondering that. I may always reevaluate the decision.
But, for now I am truly at peace with believing that the family unit needs to be protected. That it is, indeed, a dying art form that even our stupid government can't protect with dumb laws.
Family meals, discovering traditions, gatherings of relatives -- these are things I value more than a paycheck, more than whose car is bigger or who has the nicer title.
I don't even care about a Pulitzer. Not that much, anyway.
The truth is I hardly do laundry. Your father does it.
I don't see myself as a housewife or a housekeeper.
Just a Mom.
With a purpose.
And that purpose is you.
The two of you.
That's my choice.

Thank you. Thank you so very much.





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11 comments:

Village Mama said...

great post Shawn! Sometimes when I read people's blogs it feels like I tore open their private diary, because it's so personal, so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

I'm a WAHM, two kiddies, ages 3 & 1...I sometimes remember the big writing prizes, but, lucky for me, my son's obsessed with the movie Cars, and there's a scene where one character who'd won three racing cups tells the young hot shot rookies 'they're now just empty cups'. Interesting eh?!

Karen said...

"But, never give up on the fact that you might change your mind, you might discover something bigger, brighter or more heavenly just ahead, around the curve."

Great advice for us all, not just our little ones. After all, we do not know. And I'm increasingly convinced that it is a child's job to reject or repudiate, in whole or part, the parent. And it is our job to love them still.

By giving your daughters all the options, you are giving them everything in the world. Good job.

Shannon said...

Sure, there may be moms out there that make better cookies, but they got a perfect mom. :-)

RocketMom said...

Thank you for your thoughtful words. I have really enjoyed reading these last few posts, since I am on the verge of becoming "just a mom" myself (at least that's this week's decision). Your example gives me confidence that it can be done, and that it is worth it.

Your words "I hope ... that you don't pity me for becoming Just a Mom." also strike home with me, as I know I went through just such a phase when I was in college. But now, as I have gained life experience, I understand, and I realize the bravery in her choices.

I am sure your daughters will also come to know you in different ways throughout their lives, and realize what a wonderful mother you are.

InTheFastLane said...

Isn't this what feminists fight for, the right to have the choice? When we have the choice, then we are empowered by whatever path we take.

bella said...

As always: wise, insightful, compassionate, tenderly human.
This spoke to me, not just as a mom who wants to offer my own child the freedom to find their own path, but it spoke to me, as if you in speaking to your daughters you reached in and spoke to the child within me.
I needed to hear that it is ok to give myself fully to something and love it and want it and then, later, to change, move on, embrace something else entirely.
Thanks for this, these words.
This post may just be my favorite yet.

Shelli said...

Beautiful post. Thank you.

writermeeg said...

Greetings, Shawn! I'm so glad you found my blog (thanks for your comments!), and now I've found yours! Great post. Wow, I think we have much in common (UUs, feminists, writer mamas, and my DD was born in January 2006, too!). I've got you bookmarked, and I'll be back.

Megan at www.having-enough.com

P.S. I also had dreamed of writing a book of "letters to my daughter" last year (no joke!) -- then I saw the one by Deepak Chopra's daughter and knew I was scooped. (Oh well, not like I really want to write a book right now anyway!) In any case, have you seen her book? And good for you for writing these important letters!

Role Mommy said...

This is an amazing post - if possible, I would love to feature this on my website, Role Mommy (www.rolemommy.com) and credit you - you are an incredible writer and I'm certain an amazing mom. Kudos for pursuing your love or writing while providing love, devotion and encouragement to your children!

Erin said...

Hello there! Thank you so much for this letter - I hope you don't mind me tweaking it a bit for my son. I too am a Feminist and have made the choice to be a housewife & stay at home mom.

I know you haven't updated in a little while, but I hope you do soon. I look forward to reading new posts. I actually found your blog while I was looking for a community for Feminist housewives like us.

Unfortunately, I didn't find one. However, I harnessed the power of the internet and created a resource and community page. I would really appreciate it if you would look it over and give me suggestions for the resources, articles, and books sections of the site, as well as checking out the community. Here's the address: http://www.feministhousewives.com

Thanks again for sharing your beautiful letter! Happy holidays!

Jennifer Boire said...

hello again,
am browsing your blog and finding so much food for thought. I have written a few letters to my daughter too (should do for my son actually!). I did stay at home, after trying daycare for 2 days, when my son was 1 yr old. Ended up in school doing my masters at same time as having babies, so took 6 years and a few part-time sitters, but after I graduated, have been writing from home and trying not to go too stir crazy. It is a hard choice, but now that my kids can reheat their own pizzas, and drive, I am more free to get out of the house and am changing 'careers' so to speak. I want to lead retreats for women, so they can get out of the house for a few hours and rest, recoup, reenergize themselves.
take care,
jenn