Wednesday, May 30, 2007


So I read The Price of Motherhood. Besides making me even more of a crazed, liberal, tree-hugging activist, the book also made me a touch nervous.
I'm really glad that I have confidence that my marriage is going to last past whatever troubles we run into, because I am a sitting duck if anything were to happen.
I've been skulking around the house lately, making sure Dyami doesn't start oppressing me. (He managed to diffuse my tension by cleaning the oven and kitchen counters on Monday, unprompted. I love this man!)
Things didn't go so well when he offered his usual incisive/devil's advocate critiques of the book when I read him quotes. Sometimes I don't think guys realize that for them it's a fun parlor game, offering critique, while for us (well, me) we're inserting our own last name for Mr. and Mrs. X, so it's a tad more personal. For example: when I mentioned some ideas regarding equitable divorce, which involved taking much of the guy's salary and giving it to his wife and kids, so that they all would be at the same crappy standard of living, here was his (joking) comment: "If that's the case, it would have been cheaper for the guy to make his wife go back to work, and pay someone else to watch the kids."
For the record, I know he was just playing devil's advocate, and he told me straight out that he agreed that the kids shouldn't be in poverty because Daddy decided he wanted a new girlfriend, but still! I resolved the argument by getting surly and weepy for a while, and then we made up.

But, nervousness. The book is supportive of the choices women make--but is very clear about the long-term consequences if you guess wrong about your marriage. Motherhood is a big factor in poverty, as is divorce; alimony is increasingly less common, and all the stay-home care you provide (or want to provide) your kids doesn't count in its calculation. People tell you you're doing "the most important job" but they don't want to pay you for it, and if you're poor, to get public assistance, you can't stay home with your kids, but must put them in daycare and take a job that pays less than the daycare costs. Social Security ignores your (very real) provision of productive, tax-paying members of society, jobs don't allow flexible time, and the women who have power (and seem to prove that feminism has changed our system) generally don't have kids. Not only that, but traditional family advocates (read: conservatives), feminists, and even regular moms often ignore or criticize or worse, fight against policies that might actually help the grand majority of us. And all these lousy policies are unlikely to change until moms get in power. Which is a bit hard to do when we're locked out by lousy policies.

All of this makes me need a large dose of wheat-free, gluten-free beer. Or a Moms Rising party. (It's happening! Whoop!)
I'm praying that my nervousness would not translate to anxiety, but to action. That Christ would help me not worry about what I can't control (the future, for example) and instead speak up for those that don't have the time or freedom to read hair-raising books.


AlegraMarcel said...

Yes, these are very real, very serious issues. I read an article on salon: The Invisible Mommies. It describes how so much of the "mommy wars" focuses on the elite - those who have the luxury of choosing whether to stay home or keep working. I am glad the discussion also includes those who really suffer from the consequences of this issue.

AlegraMarcel said...

Heather, thank you for your honest observations about yourself. I really admire it when you point out that you are feeling weak or confused, or (in past blogs) judgemental. It is so easy to not admit these struggles for self improvement, but you do, and you do so humbly, and it is really inspiring. Thanks!

Also, read a further response to this post here.