Modern society has denigrated the importance of motherhood to such a degree that even mothers develop severe insecurities and depression at the thought of being a “mere housewife” or “just a stay-at-home mom.” The word “stay-at-home mom” itself is a dirty word, and bears connotations of powerlessness, meekness, timidness, abject dependence, and victim-hood. To be a stay-at-home mother means that you have either been coerced into such a destitute position or, even worse, you chose it for yourself. And sure, as long as it was your choice, that is fine — society will tolerate that purely for the sake of freedom of choice. That’s the only value that that decision could have in the eyes of modern people: that it was a decision freely made. If you decided to dedicate your life to something trivial and meaningless, that would be just as valuable as choosing to be a stay-at-home mom.
Motherhood in itself, however, has no larger significance in our day and age. Sure, people recognize the importance of loving your mom in the personal sense of “I guess I should not be a complete jerk to the person who brought me into this world. Maybe I will send her a card on Mother’s Day.” But beyond that, there is not much more of an understanding of the significance and influence mothers really have and ought to have.
Consider this quote from an this blog post:
“Yes, my wife is JUST a mother. JUST. She JUST brings forth life into the universe, and she JUST shapes and molds and raises those lives. She JUST manages, directs and maintains the workings of the household, while caring for children who JUST rely on her for everything. She JUST teaches our twins how to be human beings, and, as they grow, she will JUST train them in all things, from morals, to manners, to the ABC’s, to hygiene, etc. She is JUST my spiritual foundation and the rock on which our family is built. She is JUST everything to everyone. And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the tasks I outlined. Yes, she is just a mother. Which is sort of like looking at the sky and saying, “hey, it’s just the sun.”
This blogger is speaking in terms of appreciation, i.e., we should appreciate mothers and not think that just because some of them may not have 9 to 5 jobs, that doesn’t mean they are not contributing to society, are lazy, etc. Appreciation is a good message, but the other aspect of it is that we should understand the sheer influence of mothers. Ultimately, they are the ones molding the next generation of humanity as they see fit. Why do modernity and feminism not recognize the power inherent to that? Supposedly, all the power in society is found in the public sphere, in business, in politics, etc., and these are arenas dominated by men in “patriarchal societies.” But that view completely disregards the exercise of power in the private sphere (if we can even make such neat distinctions between “public” and “private”).
From this perspective, by choosing to be stay-at-home moms, women would be taking back a major source of economic, social, and political power — the power to deeply influence the upbringing of all members of society and thus to shape the world itself. Rather than be insecure or depressed at the thought of motherhood, today’s women should seize the opportunity, make a career out of it and be enterprising in their approach. We associate qualities like intelligence, dedication, vision, resourcefulness, and tenacity to professional careers, e.g., working for a start-up or a Fortune 500 company. But these qualities apply in spades to motherhood, so why do people insist that women who go to college or even get advanced degrees and then become mothers are “wasting” their talent and “throwing away professional opportunities”? People are miserably confused.