I had an interesting conversation with two other mothers yesterday. We talked about the growing trend of how teen girls are viewing the role of stay-at-home moms. While there still seems to be some who understand the value of staying at home with their children while the kids are young, a growing number of young girls are planning now to head back to the workforce once their youngest child is in school.
I wondered aloud if this burgeoning idea is a result of the current image of mothers. Somehow, an image of the 1950's mother has stuck to us, despite historical proof that mothers in past cultures have had enormous influence and held important positions in society.
That 1950's housewife/mother is delicate and should not be exposed to anything unpleasant in life. She is well-groomed and well-dressed, performing a handful of housework in heels and a matching hair bow. She rests in order not to over-exert herself, and entertains a weak mind by watching the intrigues of soap operas on television. She is not to worry her little head over things outside of her home, let alone in the world.
While that "picture perfect" version might be laughed at today, there is a core part of this idea that is deeply entrenched. It is that women at home are simply moving about, cleaning floors and children and walls. It is that as long as the children are fed and not screaming when their father gets home, the task of motherhood is accomplished. It is that these women look weary from listening to squabbling all day and are worn down from interceding in sibling rivalry. It is that relief will come once she can ship them off to school and resume life.
Where is the fearless warrior woman of so many societies gone by? I think of the pioneer women who pulled handcarts clear across the United States and built up cities as they went. I think of tribal women who had to defend their villages against attack while their men were away hunting food. I think of Roman matriarchs who pulled the political strings behind the scenes. I think of the Greeks who had a female goddess of war. I think of Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I who ruled nations. I think of mothers who inspired their children to literally change the world.
I wonder if we can abolish this 50's housewife image and replace it with the idea that we mothers are fearless captains in a mighty war. We have to fight for our children against the craziness that exists in the world out there. We have to arm them against the negative influences of media and destructive mainstream thoughts and practices. I am not a delicate waif playing a gentle board game while my apple pie bakes in the oven; I am a warrior arming and inspiring and leading my own little army. It is not enough for me to just make sure the kids are alive and fed at the end of the day, I must, and I will, make sure they are equipped to be the very best this world has to offer.
I want young girls to see this image of mighty mothers, to see that this is not work for the faint of heart, weak in mind or undedicated in spirit. Anything less will produce weak-minded and weak-bodied minions fit for little else than to be consumers of the world. I will not give over my children to such a fate, and I will have to work and fight hard for the result I want.