I have read your blog post titled “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry.” Your perspective is mildly interesting and somewhat angry in tone. However, your conclusions are inaccurate. I’m not sure what you’ve done with your life, but I’ve been both lawyer and mother and am, therefore, qualified to respond with authority to your assertions.
First, allow me to give credit where credit is due. My experience is that you are correct. It is nearly impossible “to have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids”… at least not “exceptional” by your definition. You define exceptionalism as having scored a certain title, salary, or satisfied some personal wanderlust. True, there is little time for such accomplishments when you are caring for, nurturing, and providing ethical and moral guidance as a foundation for the life of a child as yet unable to do so for themselves. True, there is little time for such things when you are providing a nurturing home environment and emotional support for a partner who is out in the world each day working at providing financial security for you and your family.
When I practiced law, I was accomplished and successful at my practice but not so much at being a mother. When I gave up my practice, I became exceptional at being a mother. I can tell you with certainty and pride, that between the two alternatives, “mothering” is more demanding, difficult, exhausting, creative, challenging, joyful, and dare I say satisfying than being in the workplace in any capacity.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the practice of law. I loved helping my clients as well as the respect and even, yes, the egoic praise that came my way. It was great to feel so accomplished and validated. But accomplished and validated are not the same as exceptional. Exceptional is what you become when you are challenged to override and set aside your own self-centeredness and do so because your child needs you to get beyond yourself, and your own needs, in order to understand theirs. Exceptional is what you become when that child grows into a worthwhile, contributing member of society exemplifying values and principles the seeds of which you planted in the hope they’d take root.
As a single woman I have traveled the world. As a single woman I have practiced law. As a married woman I have practiced law. As a married woman I have practiced law and raised a child. As a married, stay-at-home mother I have raised a child. You pose the question “Do people really think that a stay-at home-mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same.” I agree with you. The former is self-sacrificing and the latter self-serving.
But before you or anyone else jumps all over the word “self-sacrificing” let me assure you that to repair a world we have broken, only self-sacrifice and restraint in all areas of our lives will accomplish that end. The “me” generation took us down a barren and deserted road you are still traveling. My heartfelt wish for you is that you awaken to the exceptional power and, yes, self-satisfaction, in knowing you devoted the necessary time and energy to positively influence one individual life and did so willingly, at the expense of your own need to be “accomplished” and “recognized.”