Just the other day I was with a group of women I had just met and a discussion about what each of us was having for dinner came up. Some of the women were ordering out. Some were making a dinner. Some were having leftovers from a previous night. One woman said to me, “Well I would think your husband would make you dinner, right?” To which I replied that while my husband is willing to help out when needed, I do all the cooking. Suddenly, this woman who I had only barely met was looking at me with incredulous eyes. “Really? You have to do the cooking?” I explained that I enjoy cooking and do it because I like to. Clearly she did not believe this explanation and her and the other women struck up a new conversation. A conversation about how far women had come from the days when they were forced to stay in the house and cook and clean all day.
Now, to be completely fair, I suppose there is a chance that the conversation was unrelated to my comment about enjoying to cook for my husband. But even so, I had the same feelings I always do when I’m placed in this position. It is very true that women have come a long way. And in no way am I trying to deny that or give up the rights that women have earned. Women in this country have fought and fought to be treated equally and to be able to make their own choice about how they live their lives, what they choose to pursue as a career, and how they treat their bodies. What is ironic about this, is the fact that many of the women who will be so outspoken about a women’s right to choose her own path in life, whatever that may be, are the same women who will look down upon and become utterly shocked at my life choices.
Every child has a dream of what they want to be when they grow up. Some women may dream of becoming a doctor, a teacher, a ballerina, a firefighter, and so on. Ever since I was little, my dream has been to be a mother. I have never been strongly career oriented. At the present time, I do not have children. I am looking for work and plan on working until we are ready to begin our own family. But I have expressed my desire to stay home with our children to my husband and he fully supports me. He doesn’t force me at all! Instead, he supports my choice. Now, if we are financially unable to raise children on his income alone, we will need to revise this plan and I will understand that. But we are careful with our finances and are already saving and preparing for living on just one income so we will continue on with this plan and will pray for God’s guidance to make the right decision when that time comes. I know this is not for everyone. Some women have strong career goals. Some women work so hard and have such a strong desire to be a doctor, politician, nurse, teacher, or any other career choice, that they want to continue that career even once they have children. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Some women may not be able to afford staying home and I certainly understand that as well. I fully support any woman’s choice to go back to work once they have children. What I fail to understand is why my choice cannot be supported as well.
Not only in searching for a career, but in my lifestyle. I choose to plan meals and make homemade dinners almost every night. No one forces me to spend a cool fall day making homemade bread. No one forces me to take a trip to the fabric store and make my own unique sundress or new skirt. No one is forcing me to do laundry, to run errands, or to want a family. These are all my choices. I am proud of the choices I have made and the ones I hope to make in the future regarding raising a family. And in the same way that I support women who choose to follow a career, the same way that I do not care if another women cooks or eats dinner out, all I would wish for in return would be the same tolerance for my choices.
The 2003 movie Mona Lisa Smile tells the story of an art teacher at a conservative girls school in the fifties who challenges women to question their traditional roles and to go after their true dreams. Late in the movie, one girl chooses to end her career path to become married. The teacher becomes frustrated with her and questions her decision. The teacher wonders why she doesn’t just decide to do both. The student responds with this: “You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.”
And that sums up how I feel. Women have fought and fought for the right to be able to do anything they want. And what I really, truly want is to care for my family. To cook homemade meals. To sew, to clean, to raise a family. While this may not be the most popular dream, this is what I want. Not something I am forced into. This is my choice for my life. This is my dream. And I hope that someday, with God’s help, I will be able to realize my dream.