We’re all feminists, right? We believe all people should be treated equally regardless of sex. But, can you stay at home to care for your children while financially relying on your spouse and still consider yourself a feminist? This is the conundrum that began plaguing my mind when I decided to quit my job and stay home with my son in 2016.
As I was growing up, I was taught by my parents that girls could do anything boys could do, and probably better! I knew there were people in the world who thought women were the lesser sex, and I was ready to prove them wrong. I spent my 20’s like a lot of recent college graduates: working hard to climb the corporate ladder. I negotiated salaries to be compensated for what I thought I deserved and what I knew my male counterparts were being offered. I prided myself on furthering the women’s movement that our moms and grandmas began so many years ago.
When my husband and I decided to have a child, I had a local daycare facility lined up to care for my son after I had completed a 12-week maternity leave. I worked with my coworkers to cover my workload during my leave and had plans in place to seamlessly transition back to work. I knew it would be tough to leave my little bundle of joy, but I also knew I’d enjoy the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie I felt at work. However, nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming urge to protect that washes over you the second your child is plopped on your chest after hours of painstaking labor.
Once my son arrived, I started having an inkling that I wasn’t going to be ready to leave him in just 12 short weeks. Through the snuggling, diaper blowouts, feeding, baby coos, and sleepless nights, I developed a connection to this little person, unlike anything I had ever experienced. I heard other moms talk about eventually feeling ready to return to work at the end of their maternity leave, but I was beginning to think I would never feel that. At the end of the 12 weeks, I decided to quit my job to care for my son full-time.
Mentally, I struggled to accept that I had exited the corporate rat race to become a stay-at-home mom. Every time my young professional friends reminded me not to stay out of the workforce too long, it cut like a knife. By relying on my husband financially, was I going against everything the women who came before us fought to achieve? Had they burned their bras for nothing?
It wasn’t until I had my daughter early in 2019 that I started to think maybe this is what the feminist movement sought to accomplish after all. Women can choose to stay at home or work outside the home. But that’s just it, it’s their choice to make. We’re no longer required to stay home and tend to our home and children; we can choose to have a career and a family. I’m thankful that this is a choice I’m making right now to attempt to give my children the best foundation I can. I feel a new sense of accomplishment every single day, it just looks different than it did years ago. And, I can still teach my daughter that anything boys can do, she can do better!