I’ve been meaning to start this blog series for a while now. I’ve just been so lost at how to start or what to include, because my journey through the feminist discipline has been long, complex, and very, very personal. My current perspective on gender roles, womanhood, motherhood, and gender equality is so vastly different from how it used to be. Looking at my daily life now, I think back to myself as a freshman in college and see her shaking her head in disbelief. I couldn’t’ve predicted that I would be breaking about every rule I used to have.
It all started with a boy. After I graduated from high school, I became best friends with a boy who I had crushed on since middle school. He was crushing on my best friend, and we began talking about that a lot. But it led into one of the most fulfilling friendships I’ve ever had, and one that truly has saved and blessed my life.
One day, we happened to be talking about what we wanted in a spouse and what we expected of our futures. Who knows how the topic came up, but I remember we were focused on my career. I wanted to be a physical therapist. He said he wanted a wife who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I went on to describe how important it was for me to be able to provide my children with the opportunities for improvement and skill development that I had had.
Now you see, I had been a soccer player since I was 6 years old. At the time of this conversation, I was starting my freshman season on the Dixie State College’s Women’s Soccer Team. Playing in college was a dream I couldn’t believe I was living. And what got me there was one particular thing: playing club soccer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved loved loved high school soccer more than anything in the world, but it was my club experience and association that got me even considering college soccer and eventually got the Dixie coach to look at me. And want to know what? Even though it was a million years ago, club soccer back then was a pretty expensive extracurricular.
It wasn’t a secret that my parents couldn’t afford my club costs each month, even with them both working. I never knew exactly what it cost them, but I knew I was on a special discounted program that allowed me to play at a lower cost than everyone else. And the older I got, the more tournaments my team went to, which only spiked the costs higher and higher. It was up to me to pay half of every tournament my team attended, most of them in California.
Soccer had been my life. Soccer had been my identity. It meant more to me than just about anything. So for me, to have to tell my future children that they couldn’t play club ball because I couldn’t afford it was inconceivable. I was going to do my best to make sure to earn a living that would afford them with opportunities that I was too aware of that I couldn’t’ve done without to get where I was.
My friend, although he was always a good listener, never gave my reasoning any validity. “There is nothing that can replace the mother in the home,” he stated.
I was shocked. How oppressive. How unrealistic. I tried again by explaining my own experience of being in daycare and having my mother work. And not only my mom, but both my grandmothers and almost all my aunts all worked outside the home. And me and my siblings turned out just fine and as did my cousins and my parents.
He bore his testimony to me of the importance of motherhood and shared with me quotes from the Brethren emphasizing the cruciality of mothers staying home.
We ended up changing topics because I was stubbornly holding to my own views while he was holding to his. We had talked about as far as we could until we just had to agree to disagree, but what he expressed to me during that conversation never went away. Perhaps because I wanted to marry him, but I had just learned that I needed to be a stay-at-home mom if that was going to happen.
And that was really hard for me to swallow. I had lived my whole life planning for my future career, and I didn’t feel that it was for a man, even a potential spouse, to tell me that I needed to give that all up or I wasn’t fit to be his wife. That wasn’t the essence of how that conversation went or his purpose for sharing his position, but to my heart, that’s where reality was at.
My friend went on his mission, and I started on a journey I hadn’t intended on taking. God took 7 long years to teach me the incredible truth: “There is nothing that can replace the mother in the home.”