The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the feminist movement, in trying to bring reform into important issues that affect women, has swung too far to the right and diluted the essence of femininity by making it unfashionable, in certain sections of society, to be a proud and fulfilled mother, who does NOT hold a paying job outside the home. Don't get me wrong. I think all women should have the CHOICE - to work or not to work, without any kind of judgement being passed on them. Leaving aside the issue of the millions of women who have a financial need to work outside the home, I personally feel every woman (and man, for that matter) needs to be financially independent and employable at all times (not necessarily employed throughout their lives). However, in a particular strata of society, predominantly middle-class, well-educated/professionally-qualified, the question that gets asked of SAHM moms is "So what do you do?" Subtext: What do you do all day? I hope your children are better-behaved, more polite, more accomplished, and A-graders at school to justify your stay-at-home status!
Certainly, I feel that I got the short end of the stick twice - I worked full-time for almost 2 years after Ads was born when most of my peers who's also had babies around the same time were taking their break. I was something of a puzzle for having gone back to work 45 days after giving birth to my first-born. Now that I am happily unemployed for the last 3+ years, things aren't any better. A few days ago, someone commented that "Whichever B-school you girls go to, at the end of the day you are all doing the same thing" (that is, nurturing and raising children).
Now, this really bothers me. Not the debate on working moms vs SAHM (which has been done to death anyways), but the fact that being a full-time mother is somehow not enough. There has to be something else that defines me. I'm not sure that is a general need in all women. I might be quite happy to be identified as nothing but a mom for a few years (and a mom is everything, not nothing!), someone else might not - but why does that something else have to be a job or a career? Who are these others to decide my identity or identities?
I think we do ourselves and all other women, a disservice when motherhood is demeaned in this way. When people ask me if I work or if I have a job, I always say, yes I do! It's the most important job there is. And it doesn't matter whether you are a working mom or SAHM, the only difference is how many balls do you have up in the air.