Betty Friedan attempted to define it in The Feminine Mystique when she described the problem plaguing young American housewives in the late fifties and early sixties:The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night--she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question--"Is this all?"
Her point was that women were unfulfilled by the doldrums of everyday life as a stay at home mom, and that these women desperately wanted (and needed) the identity one acquires through a career. They needed individuality, a place outside the home and away from their husbands and children to call their own.
News flash, Ms. Friedan: the vast majority of moms with careers end up doing all the shit the women in your book were bitching about, plus answer the demands of a job. They spend the day working for someone else, then come home and make beds, shop for groceries, chauffeur Cub Scouts and Brownies, feed their families, and fit in everything they can in five hours before bedtime. Then they get up and do it again the next day.
So thank you. Without your efforts, I never would have known the wisdom of working a job where I get to spend the day with other people’s children to try and make enough money to pay someone else to take care of my child. Who knew life could be so fulfilling?
So, “Is this all?” Ms. Friedan? No, you dumb shit. It’s the most you can ever hope for: to be blessed with the ability to raise your own children, should you choose to have one, is a privilege. When did our society start to view women who stay at home so differently? When did the expectation become that every woman should seek a career? I’d give my right foot to be the one spending the days with my boy. I believe that part of the problem for these women was that they had not been out there and seen the alternative. They had never left the house for work before their child woke up and come home from a long day in just enough time to see him for one hour before bed. Marry the right man and you don’t mind doing a little laundry. Try leaving your kids for a while and being “just” a mom might not sound so bad.