Friday, April 21, 2006

Contributing to the World

While I had my lunch today I was reading a "motivational" article in Family Circle magazine (print edition) entitled "I changed my life." It had good stories about women who made the effort to change their lives--finishing their education, losing weight, having a child, leaving the workforce to care for young children.

I had a few issues with the lionizing of the single woman who, in her 40s, underwent fertility treatment including AI and IVF...but I really don't need to go down that road right now. Let's just say that I agree with all the reasons the Church teaches that these are wrong, and that I believe that children are ideally born into a married relationship. Enough said.

But the story that really got me was the one about the "working" mom who gave up her job to stay home with the kids. You'd think I'd be all for it--and of course, I am! But there was that undertone through the whole article, that this woman would somehow be less of a person if she did not have a paying job. Imagine! Her skills would all rot! Her education would be useless! So she got a part-time job selling books at home parties, and even timed the birth of her second child to happen during her "slow season." How convenient.

I think this really touched a nerve with me because when I was pregnant with Big Brother, a very good friend of mine told me flat out that if I stayed home to raise my child, my education would be wasted. Now, granted I haven't had the need or opportunity to share my knowledge of Anglo-Saxon poetry, Beowulf, Shakespeare, or Nathaniel Hawthorne with my children--yet. That's not to say I won't. And my background in education has helped me understand the stages my kids go through at different times in their lives, and to help other parents who have questions about schooling their kids. In college and graduate school I learned valuable time-management, study and research skills which, though they aren't something I was directly tested or graded on, impacted my education greatly and are something I can pass along to my children at the appropriate times in their own educations.

The final line in the article really toasted my marshmallows: "I feel like I'm contributing something to the world...without having to miss my kids' childhoods." This is all wrong. Her kids are her contribution to the world. The way she raises them, teaches them, helps them grow has a ripple effect far beyond them.

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