Once upon a time, I used to put words into the mouths of famous politicians, thinkers, and athletes. Literally. I wrote their speeches, and they spoke the words that I put on the paper. It was kind of awesome.
But then, my brilliant husband graduated from college, and I came home to watch our first child. I always thought that I’d go back to work one day, or back to school to earn my doctorate degree, but that’s not what life had planned for us. Instead, God gave us two incredibly funny, life-giving special needs children and one very cool, very funky daughter. This God also allowed me to contract a couple of autoimmune diseases that are highly unpredictable and drain me of energy and make me wonder if I’ll ever be able to handle the stress of a full-time position again.
So every year, as I sit down to fill out tax forms, I dread the moment when I have to fill out my occupation on tax forms and write: homemaker.
It’s not because I’m not proud of the work I do. I’m incredibly fulfilled by loving and caring for my husband and children. It’s been an amazing blessing to be the stay-at-home mom who can feed pasta to neighborhood kids as they whiz through my backyard, pretending to be superheros. It’s also been stunning to see how God would use my time to serve women, particularly women who have been sexually and physically assaulted. I can’t tell you how many times I have been able to comfort, council, love, and serve women just because I had my eyes open and my schedule free.It’s also proven my mom’s words true: it’s always worthwhile to educate a woman.
But I hate filling out that form with “homemaker” because I feel like I’ve been a bad steward of this brain that’s been entrusted to me. I’m a valedictorian. I was an honors graduate of one of the best universities in the world. I worked 14 hour days and handled the media’s craziness. Surely, surely I can figure out how to be something other than a domestic engineer?
That’s why I’m grateful for the feminists.
The feminists have been in my corner this past decade encouraging me forward. While more conservative thinking organizations encouraged me that I’m doing “God’s work,” the feminists always told me that I was not just my family, including their failures or successes. They valued that I had prioritized raising my children, but always told me that I wasn’t not done yet. In fact, in this moment, I had a voice, and talents, and love to give. And it’s okay if I wanted to hand that stuff out,with wisdom and discernment now. Whether I was changing diapers or driving in carpools, feminists never stopped valuing my voice, and never told me I couldn’t participate because I had a child on my hip.
In contrast, I have been told that I should isolate myself because I needed to learn how to parent my special needs daughter better. I have been told, as she squirmed on my lap, “Get your act together, mom!” And, no, this did not come from feminists. It came from people who supposedly support my kind the most. The people who insist that I should throw every brilliant thought I have to the wayside, at least for TWO DECADES, and then, if my children prove my worth, then, maybe I can try to start a career. Out of scratch. When I’m close to retirement age.
If it wasn’t for the feminists, I would have lot my mind. If it wasn’t for the feminists, I would have lost my voice. And if it wasn’t for the feminists, I wouldn’t have served God because I would have felt guilty, thinking that my time could have been better spent lavishing even more love on my kids and husband.
It might seem like it’s really encouraging telling a stay-at-home mom that she’s doing the most important thing in the world. But what’s even more encouraging is telling that same mom that when she has some time, you’d love her input on the committee. Because God knows, she needs to know that she can do more than just teach a kid ABCs. And it might be wonderful if she can have that volunteer position on her resume if and when she ever chooses to bless the world with her gifts and talents full time.