Thursday, October 21, 2010

I am so tired of the idea that motherhood is unworthy of intelligent women.

Via ProWomanProlife

Read the whole thing here. I agree with most of what Barbara Kay writes in this column, but I'm a little puzzled by the following paragraph:

What advice can I give her? Stop studying, find Mr. Right and start procreating? After all, Canada needs lots more loved children, and her children will be blessed. On the other hand this young woman is a winner and I want to see her succeed.

"On the other hand" is the part that puzzles me, appearing, as it does, in a column that talks about future demographic problems. Does being a wife and mother mean you cannot be a successful winner? If that's what is meant, then this is just a more polite way of saying, "You're smart - what are you doing at home with your children?"  If a woman chooses to discontinue formal study and/or a full time profession to become a happy, beloved wife and mother to children she always dreamed of having, how is that by any definition unsuccessful? Perhaps the way we define success has more than a little to do with our looming population shortfalls.

If Ms Kay means "succeed in her chosen field of study", then yes, if you choose motherhood, you may well be hurting or even abandoning your prospects of being successful in some other profession.  Many important choices require sacrifice; if you want to be a doctor, it likely means you can't pursue your dream of being a ballerina. (If a woman chose medicine over dance, I don't think many of us would describe her as  unsuccessful.) We all narrow our lives somewhat by what we choose to do, but for some reason many people seem to feel that motherhood alone closes the door on every other aspiration and interest. Certainly there are times in a mother's life that are intensely demanding, and at those times she can find it difficult to expand her horizons beyond her day to day duties, but this is true for everyone. Every kind of work has its boring, unpleasant or aggravating aspects. That is simply the nature of our existence in an imperfect world.

It is a sad thing when a woman is thought to have wasted her talents on raising her own children. When my acquaintance asked me why I was at home with my kids, maybe I should have responded, "You seem pretty smart, too - what are you doing working for the government?" I wonder what she would have said?

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