Matt Walsh's post is one in a lengthy list of its kind and will hardly be the last. Let it be said there is nothing remotely shameful about maternity, womanhood, oil-on-canvas cherubim frolicking 'round a maypole, what have you. I take no umbrage with mothers, working or stay-at-home, in general. A woman's lifestyle is a personal decision and, provided her reasons aren't terrible or backward, I respect either choice. I have no issue whatsoever with women choosing to rear their brood in situ for the formative years. It's not child rearing I'm debating; it's not even the duration, the level of intimacy, or the labor of it all I'm countering one bit.
It's mommy-worship. It's PTA moms who cling and hover throughout junior and senior high school. It's baby-makers. It's the smug self-importance of this very, very specific clan of women, who brazenly radiate pride out their every orifice for their simple biology (if they're lucky enough to conceive). It's women who rear their husband's children and... nothing else.
What happens, after such a time-consuming financial undertaking as a college education, to persuade some moms to forfeit whatever life they were in the process of building? Nothing about this course of action intrinsically rings progressive. I have luckily witnessed many brilliant, skillful women who have chosen to work and continue enjoying their lives as they were and who have managed to raise competent, compassionate young. Logically, one cannot simply assume raising kids at home is labor-intensive and exhausting (it is) without also assuming that accomplishing all that with full time work is more difficult. I have never read an argument against the inherent difficulties of raising children. No one's ever sat me down and said, "Eh, you can probably wing it." Chasing tots, loading up the minivan for soccer practice, and ensuring your children's intellectual stimulation are all widely known to be demanding.
But why aren't there exactly as many stay-at-home dads as there are moms? I can't decide if Matt's post is more insulting to women or men (and divorcees and homosexual male couples and widowers and...). What exactly is going to wind up on fire if Dad takes a crack at it? Matt's argument isn't one of maternity- versus paternity-leave. It's whether mom, specifically, should stay home indefinitely with her children with no seeds sown for her own future.
While I can't say I get it, I'm not pointing the finger at the women who choose to stay at home. But I have no problem blaming guys like Matt, who seems to confuse mommies with wood-nymphs and believes that by thinly veiled false flattery, his stay-at-home demi-goddess is, for the time, appeased. I too think it's lovely one parent has offered a finite lapse from the workplace to ensure proper childcare. But having a job is not slavery; it's putting a roof over your kid's head and hopefully it's doing what you've spent a considerable amount of your life training for and enjoying.
My husband will not "owe me" his living, and I in turn will not solely "owe him" some prodigious wunderkind. I would want a mutual relationship wherein no one party is solely responsible for an entire category of welfare and wellness. I want for all women to experience their own lives and what interests them. Matt seems to say of his wife that she is not afforded the downtime to even drink a beverage, let alone socialize, read, learn, travel, or pig out on nachos. A woman wholly devoted to her children's outcome does not have time to relax, to educate herself, or to better the world directly. And, nope, overpopulating it with her enchanted womb is not even close to what I mean.
The last part of Matt's blog post is, admittedly, what got me most fired up. He believes all women who are afforded the forty hours a week they might have spent working are biologically obligated to spend it actively raising their children. To imply that a woman, as a mother, is in any way the only and ultimate parent "raising" (a term so irritatingly broad, comprising so many facets, that I need to stop using it altogether) her child is hilariously outdated. If I had to speculate, I'd guess Matty is a hypersensitive, literal, pedantic, breastfed-until-8 wannabe progressivist who can't be in the same room as dirty diapers.
I think this line momentarily killed me: "And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the [baby-taming] tasks I outlined." No pressure. Matt's just "being real." Ugh, my eyeballs just threw up reading that again.
I'm not speaking on anyone else's behalf. Sure, I'll have a more focused perspective on motherhood when I reach that juncture in my life. This isn't about maternity in itself, and it definitely is not about pitting women against women. This is about the idea, perpetuated by both genders, that women inherently have expectations to meet, obligations to fulfill, and should feel a measure of entitlement and empowerment over women who choose alternate paths. I'm no stranger to hard work. I'm taking a full college course load while working three part-time jobs to make ends meet en route to a job I intend to keep indefinitely. I love science, reading, traveling, and learning. No amount of baby-chasing is going to convince to give up my interests outside the home.
I see women "belonging" in certain roles as anachronistic. Professional women aren't place-holding, servile, coffee-pouring drones in a hive. But they aren't all queen bees either. We're sentient critters with expansive interests and abilities. We are self-sufficient, highly consequential, impressive people, who, way more often than not, raise children too. Women who work and women who rear children are not mutually exclusive. And they shouldn't be. My female role models have been influential and intrepid (and have families to boot); you may not read about them in the news, but I can attest they'd be sorely missed if they ever left the workplace.
Don't let the Matt Walshes out there guilt you out of your own life. Speaking purely economically, parents, doubling your income (or coming close) generally enables you to move your kids into a nicer school district and can help you afford vacations, music lessons, health care, daycare, the works. It shows your daughters it's okay for them to become professionals. Don't pretend for a second working women are uniformly worse mothers than stay-at-homes.
While we're all aboard the sense-making train, let's agree that it would be altogether detrimental to remove all women from the workforce. Those teachers, doctors, and researchers have breeding duties too, don't they? Or are some children just more deserving of time with mom while other women remain at work (often directly healing or instructing your kids, no less)? Whatever you choose, womankind, please don't let anyone like Matt become an influencing factor.