My mother worked a variety of jobs but, for the majority of my childhood, she cared for me and my brother full-time as a stay-at-home mom. While most wouldn't consider this choice inherently "feminist," I disagree. Feminism, after all, is all about choice, and while women staying at home to care for children used to be less of an option and more of a given, it's not a decision women are making for themselves. So, honestly, there are more than a few things my stay-at-home mom taught me about feminism and how to make my own choices about my own life.
In the modern age, feminists come in all shapes, sizes, and roles. A proud feminist can be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a work-at-home mom running her own business, or a stay-at-home mom investing her time, energy, and talents into raising a new generation of feminists. While feminism is about pushing against antiquated gender roles, it's not about forcing women into a decision (like working outside the home after becoming a mother) to "prove a point."
When I realized I wouldn't have a job to return to after having my baby, I experienced a crisis of confidence. I wondered who I would be if I didn't have my working identity. Could I still be a feminist if I looked after my new baby full-time and didn't work outside the home? I ended up having a total career overhaul and starting my own business from home while my husband became a stay-at-home dad. I guess most would automatically identity that as a feminist setup, and I have my stay-at-home mom to thank for teaching me the following lessons:
That Caring For Others Isn't Anti-Feminist
Sadly, some people believe feminism means you can't be maternal. Yeah, that's not how feminism works. Feminism is about equality. So, when we care for others we are actively showing them they're as important and valued as anyone else. Being a full-time mom is no less valuable to society and the fight for equal rights than being a working mom or choosing not to have children.
My mom taught me the value of caring for someone else.
That Being A Mom Is Important
Being a mom is an incredible responsibility. We raise our children to follow our lead, abide by our rules, and grow and develop into thoughtful and reflective adults.
My mom has always shown me how much she loves her role as a parent. She never pushed me or pressured me into having a child of my own, but she did share what an amazing experience being a mother truly is. She was right, too.
That My Opportunities Were Limitless
Both my parents fanned the flames of my ambition from a very young age. When I watched Gorilla's In The Mist and decided I wanted to be a zoologist, they took me to the Zoological Society in London to meet with a scientist. Then, when I changed my mind and enrolled at University to become a teacher, my mom was there every step of the way.
She made it clear that all opportunities were open to me, including the opportunity to stay home and care for my future child.
That Passion & Income Don't Have To Be Related
When I was very small my mom would leave the house early in the morning and work cleaning offices while we slept. When she returned home, my dad would then go to work. She made sacrifices so that she could be home to care for us during the day because that was what made her feel happy and fulfilled.
She taught me that we have to make money to survive, but our passions and the things that make us truly happy must be nurtured, too.
That Women Hustle
My mom doesn't know how to relax. She is always on the go and, honestly, I get tired just watching her. She showed me, through her actions, that to get what we want in life we have to work hard for it.
My stay-at-home mom definitely helped me develop the strong work ethic that has helped me get to where I am today.
That She Would Always Support My Dreams
My mom knows I'm ambitious and always tells me I can achieve more than I think I can. She gives me confidence to try new things and to ask for more.
She has a forceful yet sweet nature and a way of getting what she wants. She has encouraged me, more than once, to push for what I want and to ask for pay raises and better contracts.
That Men Need To Do Housework, Too
Even though my mom was at home and my dad worked full-time, she expected him to help around the house. He cooked and did housework, too, and was an active participant in making sure the home ran smoothly.
When I got married she told me to make sure my new husband did his fair share, and even suggested we use a rota to make sure household tasks were divided equitably.
That I am Valuable & Loved
My mom always taught me that I was important. That my views and feelings mattered and that I had inherent value. That confidence, that both my parents instilled in me, helped me to avoid the wrong people. It steered me away from drama-filled friendships and boyfriends who didn't treat me with the respect I deserved.
The lessons my mom taught me showed me why my views should be heard, how important my job as a mother is, and how to take my seat at the table as a proud, feminist mom.