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When little old ladies make you doubt your self-worth – Powerful Woman Monologue #14

April 30, 2012

About the Author: Michelle is a recovering barista who now stays home with her toddler son. She conquers housework, motherhood and her fear of yeast breads in her little home in Alabama.  In her spare time she likes live music, reading history books, and marathoning TV shows.

I feel I am a powerful woman. I am educated, I have reasoning abilities, and I am intelligent. I have opinions and stand up for them. I do not feel weak.

But I chose a vocation that is normally portrayed as weak, and I can see that in the way people respond when I answer the question, “So, what do you do?”

“I stay at home with my son.”

“Oh, well isn’t that nice.” 9 times out of 10, the “isn’t that nice” doesn’t sound like they believe it’s really nice. It’s patronizing. Or disappointed-sounding. Or just outright snide.

I once answered that question and the old lady responded with “Your husband must have a REALLY nice job for you to not contribute to the household like that.”

I was flabbergasted. And it made me feel so small.

Sure, my husband does have a nice job, but we live a modest life and are happy to make sacrifices to live the way we want – with me at home raising our son until that doesn’t work for our family any more. But more often than not, that decision feels “looked down on”.

I didn’t choose to stay home because I want to be subservient, or because my entire identity is “mother”. Neither of those things are true. My husband and I are equals in our relationship, and always have been. Money has never played any part in power in our marriage. There were times when I made more, and now he does. It doesn’t matter. I do the housework because he works outside of the home, and my work is here. Not because it’s my “place”. I take care of our sons needs because it’s what works for us, not because I have no “self” and no identity outside of wife and mother. I cook and bake because I enjoy it, not because it’s where I “belong”, according to someone else.

The statement that I do not contribute to the household is so demeaning. And the portrayal of women who are not employed is demeaning. It’s as if the only way to be powerful, according to the media (and apparently old ladies) is to have a job with income.

Opinion pieces in the New York Times portray stay at home mothers as whiney women who spend all day waiting for the moment they can open their bottle of wine to escape from their “prison”. They use the words “self-indulgent”. Staying at home with children is often called the “last resort” for women. They are rarely portrayed with dignity or respect, and are usually seen as either selfish and self-indulgent, or as under-educated, hyper-religious, and “self-less” in a way that doesn’t just imply the giving of one’s time to benefit others. Self-less, as if their only sense of self comes from a biblical stereotype.

But truthfully, I don’t know any woman personally who fits the “stereotype” that her labels might suggest.

I just wish that this life that I feel called to, that makes me feel like a powerful woman, wasn’t portrayed as such a weak life by so many.

About the series: Powerful Woman Monologues are compiled in response to the media’s representation of women as inspired by the film Miss Representation. If you would like to participate, email me. Any kind of creative contribution is welcome from anyone.

Special thanks to Ashley of Little Leaf Photography & Design for graciously creating the badge for our series!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2012 7:32 pm

    My mother was a stay at home mom for 10 years when my sister and then my brother was born (she had me much earlier in life so I was a teenager by that point). She worked harder than anyone I know. It makes me crazy that so many people, women, look down on your chosen life. Be strong! You are doing what works for you and your family and that is a powerful decision.

    • Michelle, with dignity permalink
      April 30, 2012 9:40 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind words!

  2. May 1, 2012 3:25 pm

    Staying at home with your kids is not for the weak or lazy. It’s a tough gig! As someone who both works full time (Sept-May), and stays home full time (June-Aug.), I can say that both jobs are equally hard…they’re just hard in different ways.

    Michelle, you are exactly the kind of mom I aspire to be. You are hardworking, honest, and crazy-in-love with your kid. You are constantly working to be the best you can be for your son while staying true to who you are. If that’s not powerful, I don’t know what is.

  3. May 3, 2012 8:40 am

    Anyone who has ever spent any time around children should know that it’s not, by any means, an easy gig. I have great respect for people who stay at home because I can only imagine how hard it must be!

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