Monday, January 27, 2014

To The Woman Who Has Demeaned The Last 13 Years Of My Life

Dear Amy,

Yesterday I read your article titled "I Look Down on Young Women With Husbands and and Kids and I'm Not Sorry."

I'm sorry I ever read your article. I'm sorry that women feel the need to look down on other women for their choices, no matter what they might be. In life, we're faced with many paths. Sometimes we make the right choices, sometimes not so much. Sometimes we choose what's right for us, even if it's not right for our sister, our friend, our neighbor. We are given this right to choose. I may not agree with your choice, and you may not agree with mine, but I don't look down on you for it. I have no problem with a woman who chooses not to get married and have kids, like I did. I may think that woman is missing out on something important and amazing, but it's her choice, not mine to make for her. And I would never belittle that choice.

You talk about how we shouldn't have showers to celebrate weddings and births, but rather we should celebrate when someone backpacks across Europe or lands their dream job. Sure, we should celebrate those things too. But why would we stop celebrating love, one of the most important and sought after things a human being can ever experience? Why would we stop celebrating the bringing of a new life into this world, something you say that "literally anyone" can do and yet something we still acknowledge as a miracle. And it is a miracle. Which you would understand if you had experienced it yourself.

Here's the thing. I would never tell a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, or a garbage man that their job is easy. I would especially never tell them that if I had never experienced it myself. I don't know what you do for a living, and I don't know what sacrifices you make to be the best you can be at it. But you know nothing of what it's like to be a mother. To stay at home every day with only toddlers to talk to. To completely lose yourself, one day waking up and not knowing who you are anymore. You have no idea what it's like to see someone you created, someone who is a part of you and yet their own person, go through milestone after milestone, something you might not think important but is one of the most incredible things on this earth to witness. You have no idea the highs and lows, the joys and suffering, the pain and love that I go through every day. What you should know is despite all this, despite your article, I would never go back and change my decision.

You think that a stay at home mom isn't on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself. I don't just take care of myself, I take care of four other people too (not to mention my husband who occasionally needs care too). And what about the women who not only take care of their kids, but work too. To me, that's amazing, and more than equal with a woman who only takes care of herself.

You said that men never mention how "hard" it is to raise kids and manage a household. That's because in most cases, men don't do this. They're at work. They, like you, don't really understand what it takes. You think it's just laundry. You think that sending my kids to school in clean clothes isn't as important as what a doctor or a lawyer does. You think raising a child and having a clean house isn't an accomplishment. You think being a mother is "average."

No, I'm not saving lives, I'm not inventing a new miracle drug, I'm not putting bad guys in jail. But my "average" job keeps society running. Do you think a receptionist or a garbage man is average? What about the people who spray the dirt off highway signs or stock shelves at your local grocery store? Are these people saving lives? Are you? No. But how would the world work without them? You may think you are more important or exceptional than me because you have such-and-such job (I'm not sure what you do), but without me, and the countless other mothers out there, what kind of people would we be sending into the world? What would the next generation look like? Would there even be one? Would we have doctors and lawyers anymore? Where would you be without your own mother, or whoever raised you?

You think it's ridiculous when a wife and mother wants recognition for what she does. Guess what? We don't get promotions. We don't get better salaries. We don't get days off. You can leave your job every night, you get a break. We never get a break. Our job never ends. There are no days off. There is nothing tangible that says, "well done." I'm not asking for a medal for getting my laundry washed every week. Even when we get the recognition, mothers often don't want it because we never feel like we're good enough. There is always something we could do better: healthier meals, a cleaner house, a child who is potty trained before they're four. All I am asking for is a little respect. Respect for sending clean, well-fed and well-behaved children into the world. Respect for trying to raise children who will become people who are hopefully way better than me or you. Respect for the sacrifice I have made four times over and would make again. Respect for those women who not only do all this, but go off to work as well. Respect for my choice.

You know what? I know I'm not going to get that respect, not from you, not from lots of people. And that's okay. Because I think you're wrong. I can be exceptional. I can be exceptional "despite" having a husband and kids, and because of them. I am exceptional with them and all on my own.

Us women, we can all be exceptional, whether we are mothers, writers, doctors, teachers, maids. I guess, more than anything, I hope that one day you realize that.


  1. great post. Now I'm curious about the article she posted. It's time women stop tearing each other down for the choices we make. Kids? Great! No kids? Great! Let's all love each other and support one another in whatever path we choose.

  2. Yes, great post. I'm interested in the original article as well. I'll take a look-see in a minute. Mostly, I'm sad that Amy felt like she could judge a mother's path without ever walking those footsteps. One day she'll learn, someway or another. And then she'll eat her words. Every. Last. One. Of. Them. I've stuck my foot in my mouth plenty of times. Doing it is one thing. Learning from it is entirely different, and really hard. I appreciate your article, Mel, and agree with it 100% :)

  3. Has she forgotten that it was the very thing she demeans that is the reason she exists?

  4. I heard about a poll taken recently where they asked 18-30 year olds if they planned to have kids, and most said that they didn't plan to. So sad!!! Life is about children and family. I raised three kids, and I also (after they were grown) worked full time outside the home. Work has its obvious rewards, but believe me, the rewards do not compare to having the privilege of being a SAHM and raising your family.

    1. To counter what you said, I have a family even though I don't have children. I am a daughter, a sister, a cousin. It does hurt me to hear well-intened comments that life is about family, and that family includes having your own children. What about women who can't? Are they expected then to adopt because otherwise they have no value? You may be coming from the camp that you have been blessed so much by your children and being a parent, that you want others to share that joy. That's valid. But I don't think it's sad if a couple determines they don't want children.

  5. I guess she sprang into the world as a fully grown, groomed, and educated 20 something with no recollection of the years she leaned on a mother.

    Though, I do feel the disparity between men and women keenly.

  6. Thank you. I was feeling so many different things when I read her article but you summed it up quite well.

  7. Great response! So well written. Loved everything you said. I worked a full time corporate job until my kids were 6 and 8. It was very very very hard. I finally decided to leave and now I am at home. I loved working, but being at home has made our family function so much better. A lot of my female peers at work had no children, and I can see why. It's hard to do everything and do it well. I'm happy I got to experience several angles of this ongoing struggle, and if anything, I've learned that there is no perfect choice. You just do your best with the choices you make. And you try not to judge others who are facing their own set of challenges and choices. You never really know what other people are dealing with and why they make the choices they do. I like to assume everyone is doing their level best with the best of intent. I'm thinking this Amy person must just be trying to be provocative to get famous or something. It's hard to imagine a real person who would be so uncharitable. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

  8. I'm going to take a hint from you and not read the linked article; I've read plenty like it, and hear the sentiment often. Being married and childless, I have been invited to "child-free" facebook groups, and the overall sentiment I got from it made me uncomfortable. Some were well meaning and others felt the need to nitpick and attack.

    The sentiment to look down on mothers is misguided. The undercurrent of anger, is legitimate, but the anger truly sources from centuries of oppression to women. Until recent generations, women were EXPECTED to be wives and mothers, and criticized for wanting more. Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique was only 50 years ago, and it's sad to think that a revelation for women to aspire to more caused so much controversy. Even now, there are some politicos trying to stigmatize women for choices they make. The truth is, our culture is toxic to women--ALL WOMEN. The last thing we need is to turn on ourselves. The enemy is not a woman making a different choice than we would make for ourselves, it's those who tell us we have no choice, only a scripted duty. This devalues both working women and women who choose to stay home to raise kids.

    A better use of an opinion piece would be to challenge those in power, say congressman, state officials, potential presidential nominees, to quit reducing women to stereotypes they don't understand. Or to complain loudly how media still focuses on what women in power are wearing, or what their hair looks like, or their weight. That we stop supporting trash magazines that only focus on baby bump watches and shredding young female celebrities for being sluts. There is so much hate toward women going on in our culture, the last thing we need is to attack the women who are doing the hard work of raising the next generation.

  9. I actually clicked over and read the other article after reading yours. There was one line that said, "You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids."

    That was the point where I found her words seriously offensive. I'm not a stay at home mom, I'm not a mom at all --because I can't be "average". It's biologicially impossible for me to have children for medical reasons. I am currently in the process of trying to adopt though, and I look forward to the day when I can leave my corporate job to stay home with my future kids.

    I have nothing but respect for women who choose to work in the home. But I also know a lot of very "successful" woman (who are married with children) that work outside the home. I know female doctors, lawers, engineers, and buisness women, many of who are married with children. Some have stay at home husbands. Others pay for daycare, nannies, and/or house keepers.

    If people are willing to pay another person to care for their children and manage their household, clearly it is a "job". Families that have the financial resorces to have one parent stay home full time with their children (be it the mother or the father) are lucky. Their children are lucky. And the parent who gets to spend their time bonding with and watching their children grow are lucky. It is a job, an important job.

    And who ever wrote that other article is dense and narrow-minded. She isn't a "feminist" she's an idiot. Women should be able to do what ever they want. They should be able to educate themselves, work, and travel the world. But they should also be able to love and care for their families.