You, my 3 readers, have the distinct privilege of reading an excellent article from my most awesomeness wife. I have seen first hand how a woman can lead a fulfilling role in the home as a mother, wife, and home-maker. Enjoy the article. Matt
I recently finished a book study on biblical womanhood and it was fascinating, to say the least! A group of girlfriends, including one of my personal friends and mentors Lisa Hawkins, read the book True Woman 101: Divine Design. Coming from a background of gender competition (I can be the primary bread-winner in our family – and was for a time), it was refreshing to read how God uniquely designed women. It was a wake-up call to me (again) that there needs not be competition between the sexes. The book study was a great reminder to continue to strive to live my life as a woman of God, rather than as a woman of today’s modern culture.
I grew up during the 1970’s and the feminist movement had already left the station. The movement was a rebellion against the traditional ideas about womanhood, marriage, motherhood and morality. Would I have been a passenger on that train had I been of age? Possibly, but even though I was too young to realize it, I was already being carried along in a culture that was embracing new ideas about women. As a child of the ‘70’s I yielded my Charlie’s Angels lunchbox (I wanted to be talented, tough and attractive too!) and sang songs of gender neutrality and individuality from “Free to Be You and Me.”
Feminist ideals paved the way for my right to vote, the encouragement of a father who instilled in me the belief that I could grow up to be a female doctor in a primarily male-dominated profession, and a culture that normalized my desire to succeed, no matter what my gender.
I was inundated with messages that taught me to pursue my rights, my career and my independence as a woman. As I grew up, the role of wife and mother never seemed attractive as I watched even my own parents “swap” gender duties. You see, when I grew up, both of my parents worked outside the home. Yet, my father had a more flexible schedule, so it was my Dad who greeted me after school, sitting at the kitchen table and asking how my school day was as I ate my snack.
Needless to say, I was confused about womanhood.
During the time of my medical training, female physicians were still relatively uncommon. I remember trying to seek out female physicians to learn how they “balanced” work and home. I somehow sensed that I was still going to need to manage both and that advocating my domestic responsibilities to my husband or daycare provider wasn’t going to get me completely off the hook.
Sadly, I was so career-oriented at that time that getting married during medical school and starting to have children during residency was almost a distraction to my ultimate goal: to become a pediatrician. Today, I think it’s embarrassing that Matt’s first gift to me (ever) was a cookbook, recognizing that I hadn’t learned that all-important domestic skill! And I think it’s somewhat ironic that I chose a profession (pediatrics) where I could “practice” being a mom, just not to my own children. I didn’t get too far away from my inner desire (even if unrecognized at the time) to nurture children!
I found an article from Kathleen Parker, columnist for The Washington Post, published in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on 2/14/13, that was relevant to my recent book study. Her article looks at the consequences of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique”, written as a manifesto of the women’s liberation movement. Parker writes that, despite marinating in the mainstream ideas of feminism, women of these last 50 years have experienced a paradigm shift away from feminism that Friedan and many other leaders of the feminist movement may not have predicted.
Parker writes: “(We) were becoming unwitting hostages to myths that few were brave enough to challenge. My own skepticism came to full fruition the moment I became a mother.
“Unlike (Betty) Friedan, I wasn’t tethered to home but to a job. Rather than resenting the prospect of staying home with a baby, I was stricken by the realization that I couldn’t. The ‘strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning,’ words Friedan used to describe thwarted ambition, was for me the sense of having abandoned my son.”
That’s exactly how I felt as the desire to be home with my own 3 children grew to volcanic proportions in me. I was struggling to balance work and home as my heart was being pulled more toward my own kids, longing to raise them myself.
In October 2009, Time magazine pointed out that, ironically, as women have gained more education, more economic independence, more power, and more freedom, they have become less and less happy.
That was me! After trying to work 60+ hours a week as a part-time pediatrician and struggling to find time at home with my husband and 3 kids, I had had enough. I realized that the common myth that life would be more satisfying in the workplace than in my own home was false.
As Kathleen Parker writes, “And while women have the same need as men to lead meaningful lives, the feminist mystique’s great failing was in advancing the notion that caring for children posed an obstacle to self-realization.”
My recent book study has helped me realize that there is no obstacle to fulfillment and true freedom when I follow God’s divine design for women.
I highly recommend the book! And I highly recommend finding a group of friends and mentors like those in the LIFE community to show you the hope and joy that comes with following your divine design to be a wife and mother!