The Mommy Paradigm

The other day, i’d sparked yet another heated discussion on my FaceBook status. We were discussing gender roles, primarily, and who should take on the role of the primary care giver. One of my friends said that he believed that women shouldn’t be limited to being “just a mother.”

When a woman describes herself as “just a mom,” I find that completely problematic. You see, when individuals who have careers are describing their occupations, they rarely say, “I’m just a salesman,” or “I’m just a doctor.” Though not equal in compensation, each of these occupations is as equally demanding and deserving of equal recognition.

Though I, too, agree that a woman should not be limited to the role of the homemaker, I don’t believe that any woman is wrong for choosing to do so. People seem to forget that feminism is all about choice. The whole issue is that women are taking on this task by default, rather than choice. Both genders are sliding into their predetermined roles without really considering what would fulfill them the most and bring them the most satisfaction out of life.

Aside from the fact that being a mother requires a 168-hour workweek, (that’s 24/7, for mathematically impaired individuals) mothers, as well as stay-at-home fathers (which, frankly, there could be more of) are burdened with an immense task of influencing the direction and values of our future. And no, they don’t have a bi-monthly paycheck that keeps them motivated to maintain their quality of work. They get tantrums, messes, and chronic fatigue.

Though I don’t believe that a woman should, by default, become her children’s primary caregiver; I think that those women who do dedicate their lives to the raising of children should start giving themselves the recognition they deserve. Trust me, all the stay-at-home daddies are getting ample extrinsic recognition, because it defies the norm.

Which brings me to my second issue of the “mommy” paradigm. When it comes to occupation, how is a girl to win? You see, if she chooses to remain in the workforce, with or without children, she will have the label of “selfishness” slapped on her forehead, and will be looked upon disapprovingly. Conversely, if she stays home with the kids, she’s “just a mom.” Seems a little unfair, doesn’t it? Welcome to the patriarchy, my friends.

The stereotypical gender roles provide a blanket solution to a very individualistic problem. Not only should the parent who is most suited to raise the children take on the role of the primary caregiver, but a couple should also consider who would be most fulfilled in that role. I think that if we evaluated those two criteria before assigning roles, we’d be surprised by how many bread-winning moms and stay-at-home dads would result.

Just a thought.

M.

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