Sometimes I try to quietly sneek into the kitchen and very carefully remove ingredients and pans so as not to alert the small children.   They love to ‘help’ and insist on stirring and pouring and seasoning until the symphony of,
“Can I help?”
“I wanna do that.”
“It’s my turn!”
“She won’t give me the spoon!”
It’s enough to have you fishing for the pizza delivery number.   But as I remind myself that it’s my job to teach them and as I envision them making their own greek goulash with caramelized onions one day,  I welcome the sous chefs gladly.   They scamper outside to snip some fresh herbs and then painstakingly cut the luscious mint and parsley with scissors, their minds and mouths working as hard as their fingers, with questions like “You like to cook, don’t you mommy?” and  “Do you really like eggplant?”

It’s moments like these that I am fully aware that they are watching me.

They are learning to live their lives by watching how I live mine.  It’s no small responsibility to bear.  This long circuitous journey that I have made through medical education, residency training and then a six year career in medical practice has finally brought me HOME.  Where I have struggled to find my way.   Where I am learning to ‘serve my neighbor’ in the most intimate but also seemingly mundane ways.   I entered this vocation ill-prepared and ill-advised on what it meant to be a full time homemaker.    And the questions that haunt me sometimes in the throws of laundry and dishes,  about whether I am using my gifts to their full potential,  are answered decidedly in those little eyes and hands helping me make dinner.   I am making a bold statement to them.

The vocation of motherhood is honorable;  instituted by God for the raising of children, for the domestication of men, and for the stabilization of society.  It is His design and I’ve learned that I am most ‘female’ and truly most fulfilled when I embrace and nurture this role as wife and mother.

 And that drove me to reread a few sections of a book that I read a few years ago called The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.   Friedan is crowned with having started the second wave of the feminist movement and was the first president of the National Organization for Women (that’s enough to make me skeptical).  I disagree with nearly every statement she makes in the book but in many ways, I’m glad I read it.   I understand the feminist movement a little more clearly and realize that I am a product of a generation of women who were told that they needed to find fulfillment outside the home.   Friedan compares housewifery to being in a ‘comfortable concentration camp’ and characterizes suburban housewives as chiefly unfulfilled, dependent women who have given up on intellectual interests and have no real impact on the major issues of society.   She makes a few valid points but for the most part I find her conclusions flawed and riddled with the biases of someone who is driven by an agenda.
She comes across to me similiar to the way  most feminists do; projecting her own misery and lack of fulfillment onto the whole of the female population and placing blame on men,  religious institutions and society as a whole.  She admonishes women to leave the

‘comfortable concentration camp’  to work and to be educated so that they may contribute so society in a meaningful way, thus finding true fulfillment.   She says, ”

A woman must create, out of her own needs and abilities, a new life plan, fitting in the love and children and home that have defined feminity in the past with the work toward a greater purpose that shapes the future”.p. 338

Well, speaking from experience, I have never felt that I was contributing more meaningfully to society than when I decided to put my own career on hold to be home with my children.  Any ‘ole Joe can refill Ralph’s prescription for hypertension, but I am the most uniquely qualified and gifted person to raise my own children and to love and serve my husband.   Noone else can do that with the same passion and care.   So, I want to stand up for all educated, professional women who have made an informed and conscious choice to give their lives in service to their families.   I applaud you.   What you do is important and powerful and instituted by God himself.   There is no higher calling.   There is no greater work.

Disclaimers:   I am not in any way admonishing that every female should do what I have done.  I am blessed with a husband who is able to provide for us financially, making it possible for me to enjoy this tremendous blessing.   If I need to enter the force again, I will do what is necessary for our family.    Nor am I casting judgement on women who have chosen different paths.   It has been my experience that in our society,  it’s the SAHM who feels a certain inferiority and who frequently questions her decision to stay home.   There are many creative ways to combine outside work with home responsibilities and I personally know many women who do a fantastic job of it.  When I was in the work force, I embraced the unique femininity that I brought to my vocation and tried above all else to keep my family first.   Similarly, just because a woman stays home is no guarantee that she’s  embracing her role and nurturing her family to her best ability.   We are all sinners in need of forgiveness and whether or not we stay home or join the workforce, we do so riddled with sin and selfishness.   We all need God’s grace to cover us and to give us true peace and joy!
I’ll conclude with a quote from Plato:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

53 comments on “Why I’m not a feminist”

  1. I couldn't agree more Edie. I feel it's such a blessing to be home with my family and I wish that every woman out there (who desired it) could do the same. I also agree that just because a woman's a SAHM, doesn't mean she's a saint or doing a great job. It's not an easy job and it often goes without thanks or praise. As women we need to support and uplift eachother, and embrace all the feminin gifts and characteristcs God gave us. Great post!

  2. What amazes me. And never ceases to amaze me. Is how I feel called to do this, am totally committed to it. KNOW that it woudln't work any other way and yet I wonder so often what the heck I amr elaly accomplishing here. Thank you for the encouragement. You did mean that just for me right?

  3. Great post, Edie. Sometimes it's particularly difficult when I am introduced to women who want to know what "I do." I always feel like I need to justify my college degree vs. staying home with my kids.

  4. Bravo! You have articulated this so powerfully, but with humility and complete grace. 🙂

  5. I completely agree with this post (thank goodness, huh? after i've disagreed on some others).

    My husband and I have made every possible sacrifice for one of us to be home with our kids. I used to work just 6 hours a week… then it graduated to 12. At times I feel tremendous guilt over putting my children in child care for 12 hours a week. And yet… I know that is not much compared to so many other children.

    I struggle with being "at home" when I am "at home". I am self employed, running a company from home. So often "at home" means faxes, phone calls, bids, etc. I wish I could give my children my undivided attention more often.

    The economy is really hurting our finances at the moment. I really NEED to go back to work full time right now just to help pay off medical bills and business debt. And yet I look at my baby's sweet face and can't bear to do it.

    SAHM's have the hardest… and most important job in the world. I wish I could do it full time and do it WELL.

    *cying now*

    Thanks for a great post.

  6. Thank you for the encouraging post. There are days when being a SAHM seems to produce so little fulfillment. . .but there are so many that make me so glad I have chosen to stay home with my girls. They are growing into godly young ladies, and I am so thankful that I have been able to see their growth in the physical, intellectual, and spiritual. . .

  7. Yay! Thank you for writing this! I'm a former journalist and have been at home with my kids since my oldest was born 8 years ago. My husband once had lunch with a female colleague who confided that she couldn't imagine being at home with children (she doesn't have any, by the way). She said she wanted to "contribute to society."


  8. Yes ! I was a pharmacist, quit my job and now stay at home to raise and school my two boys ( and soon to be daughter). My mom is horrified that I "wasted" my degree and the woman at my old work are jealous. Great post ! I feel my life's work IS to be at home teaching, loving, cooking, (gasp!) cleaning for my family. I am blessed !

  9. Thanks Edie, as always you're post was passionately and beautifully written. Making the decision to begin a very part time private practice was so hard for my husband and myself. BUT, God called, and I followed Him faithfully and haven't regretted my choice to prioritize my family. I LOVE the path I'm on and finally feel like I'm claiming and embracing my calling as a woman. My family is so much more happier and less chaotic. In today's fast paced world families need their home to be their haven! God's blessings on you and yours 😀

  10. wow…I can not tell you how much I needed to read this! I can not tell you the amount of times I hear "you are such a gifted photographer" "Cherie you are going to make a ton of money" "I wish I had a gift for photography like you do"

    All of this might be true…I do feel that God has girfted me with an eye for photography and I am so grateful for that. The thing is, the more I try to work to follow that dream, the more I miss out on the most important job I have…being a helper to my husband and raising my two little blessings. I know that there is a place for both in my life…but I know that I must put my family first and the min. I find that photography squeezes that family time I need to take a step back.

    Thank you for the reminder!
    Cherie Yost

  11. love that. may i always keep in the forefront of my mind that THEY are watching me. i tend to forget that too often.

  12. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home when my children were small and then had to enter the work force. Could I have been at home, that would have been my choice. My next youngest sister has always been at home with her family. Sadly, she often feels self-conscious when asked "and what do you do?" in a social situation. I am forwarding your post to her. As I have often told her – "Tell them that you create a loving and happy home"!

  13. I am so tired of feminism. Seriously, they cause more trouble than anything. They are convincing women that they have to work full time AND take care of the house. And women fall for it. Intellectually, I know what I do is far more important than a job outside the home. My Mom was often torn when we would get sick and she had to go to work. No matter how many sacrifices we make, I know it is worth it. Lucky for me, there are quite a few SAHM's around here. Including Doctors, lawyers, highly educated people…. I am tired of everyone thinking SAHM's are all a bunch of high school drop outs. Thankfully, I have grown to where I don't care what they think. Wonderful post!!! ;0)

  14. Delurking to say, "Amen!". I have been at home since our first was born in 2000–the time has flown by! We now have 3 kids and I feel like my time at home has given, and continues to give, them a greater sense of family and the importance of it. Thankfully my husband is 100% on board and we wouldn't have it any other way. I appreciate you writing this post!

    God bless.

  15. Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am posting a link to this post on my blog! How do you seem to put out there what a lot of us are feeling? 🙂 I love that I am blessed to be a SAHM for 11 1/2 years. I too believe that there is nothing more important than that role of a Mother in the home and helper to my husband. Thank you for your eloquence on this heated topic! Perfectly put!

  16. Thank You from the bottom of my heart for this wonderful post.
    I consider staying home my most important mission. to be a mother to the 4 children I was blessed with and to be a wife to the husband I chose to spend the rest of my life with.

  17. I love what you wrote. Isn't it amazing/odd/mysterious that God allowed the feminist movement to happen? There are so many dynamics to it and how it has affected society/generations. I have a friend who used to say it's the very reason our mortgages are so high–once banks realized household incomes had two salaries–housing costs rose!
    I think what you said was said WELL!
    Thank you for sharing and thank you for the encouragement that this post brought. It truly is a privilege to be able to serve our families as we do.

  18. Since before I married, I knew I wanted to be a sahm mom. And, even through all the difficulties and financial hard times, I have been able to. I've never had to work, but I did need your reminder today. I've lost sight of the blessing and calling that being a sahm mom entails. Thank you.

  19. “Woman can only find herself by giving love to others.”
    — Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical letter, Mulieris
    Dignitatem – On the Dignity & Vocation of Women

  20. Here, here! Awesome post, Edie. I realized I didn't want to be considered a feminist when I saw what so-called feminist did to Sarah Palin during the election. If part of feminism is tearing down women when they happen to be conservative (Michelle Malkin is another example), then I don't want anything to do with feminism.

    I am in the midst of deciding whether to go back to my "old" career (political consultant) or start a new one in order to be on the same schedule as the kids. Or just find something part-time … or nothing at all. Regardless, I feel so lucky to have been home for my kids these past 6 years. And being a military spouse, I've been surrounded by a bunch of other SAHMs so there really isn't any judgement about my decision to stay home. That has definitely been a blessing.

  21. Wow Edie. Incredible post. I often get asked why I pursued 2 college degrees if I am only gonna stay home with my kids. Staying home with my children has been one decision I have never regretted a day in my life. I know I'm not perfect, but I think I do this job better than any other I've ever held. No one else is quite as qualified for my family than me, and for that I am so thankful!

  22. Uhhhgggg! Feminism was around long before The Feminine Mystique, which was published 45+ years ago and is hardly germaine to the state of current Feminism. The most basic premise of Feminism is that women have individual experiences and circumstances that should be honored, and no single cookie-cutter stereotype can or should define our roles in society! Are there rude, insecure, and competitive women out there? Of course, on both sides of the SAHM/ career Mom debate. Not feeling valued as a SAHM is not a consequence of Feminism, but rather the need we have to justify our choices by devaluing someone else's. Feminism is about having the CHOICE to stay at home, or work outside the home, or dozens of other things. Feminism is about respecting ourselves and others enough to recognise that our individual paths are valid! I am proudly a Feminist SAHM by chioce, raising my daughter (and sons!) to make the best possible individual choice for herself (and themselves) regardless of society's latest fad. Don't forget that the Feminists fought for your right to vote, to speak, to choose, to be treated fairly. Don't forget that without the Feminists your life (and that of your female offspring) would be vastly different than what you have now. Feminists are not the enemy! Insecurity in our own choices? Yes, that's the enemy.


    P.S. If you do respect and honor different choices by other women, you're sounding a little Feminist there, yourself. 😉

  23. A wonderful post, and I completely agree with you.

    As one who still has one foot in the workplace I challenge myself to be a full time mom with a part time job rather than the opposite. I know where I am fulfilled and what my most important role is and I feel honored to serve there. I'm also blessed to have a husband who knows my value at home, and considers it priceless.

  24. Couldn't have said it better if I tried.

    I got out of the military, doing a job that I was good at and that I honestly loved when I was pregnant with my first. I've never looked back! I have days when I wonder if my life will ever equate to anything more than "Cheerio Sweeper-upper" or "Nose Wiper" but in those moments when I overhear my 3 year old mimicking me in some silly way, I realize that I have the single most important task I've ever had and may ever have again…to train up my children to love the Lord more than they love themselves. I'm leaving a legacy of faith and real femininity.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

  25. Posts like this are part of why I so enjoy reading your blog- because they really make me think and expose me to a viewpoint different than my own.
    I'm not a SAHM, no kiddos here and a self-professed feminist career woman and even, yes, a liberal- but I still make a mean skillet of cornbread.

    I agree with MamaMonkey that the feminist movement allows us many of the choices and options our mothers and certainly our grandmothers never had.
    For me the key is to continue to focus on elevating my "sisters" whatever their choices may be. Wouldn't it be great if your daughters didn't have to participate in the war of SAHM vs working moms vs women working outside the home with no kids at all? The best advice I have heard on this front is that you can have it all, not just all at the same time.
    I do so enjoy my peeks into your world of homeschooling and housewifery (is that a real word?). It makes me really appreciate how hard it must have been for my own mom to bounce between the corporate world and taking care of us at home.
    Your post made me groan at first, but then made me think, and for that, I thank you kindly.

  26. It was very nice reading your thoughts on this subject. I work from home, so I'm home all day, but no kids yet. When the time comes, I will be glad to stay home with my children…After working in a corporate setting, I felt like THAT was where the real concentration camp was 😉 Especially for a creative type like myself.

    I definitely feel that if your family can afford it, it's probably best for someone to stay home with the children. If not mom, than dad or gramma. I'd rather it be me or family who raises my kids, not some person I barely know.

    It's ok for educated women to make these choices. And when they do stay home, it's one of the most honorable choices they could ever make 🙂

  27. Thanks for this post! I agree. Another thing I have learned about the feminist movement is how it has changed many men. I have many girlfriends who are actually the bread winners in their family. Some are ok with that but most of them really struggle with it and feel a lot of guilt. They would rather be home with their children. I just find that so many men now expect their wives to contribute to the family income. Really I think the feminist movement made it easier on men in many ways and harder on women who are now expected to juggle family and work.

  28. Hi! I'm a new reader and I've been clicking the "related links" like it's my job. I absolutely love your perspective on this issue especially, but I realize that we agree on just about every controversial issue you've posted about.
    I'm only 21 years old and am about to make some major life decisions, and I'm try to put priorities in line so I can make the right choices. I'm glad I found this post and realize that my way of thinking can actually be put to use and be successful.

  29. Edie,
    I’m scrolling back through some of your older posts… and found. 🙂
    I am often told ‘you’re so lucky, you get to stay home. I wish I had that luxury.’ I laugh now, at the adamant stand I took on my 2nd date with my now husband. I quote, ‘I’ll live in a shack if that’s what it takes, so I can stay home with my kids.’ But it had been ingrained early, even before I went to school/college…flash forward 12 years to now.
    I had an interesting conversation with my mother yesterday, talking about the excrutiating challenges for a sahm, especially with young children. The air-conditioned building/office/workspace where everyone actually co-operates and speaks in normal volume, looks nice sometimes to that sahm(who usually hasn’t showered and has given up on the flat-iron & cute unstained shirt).
    In fact some days she’d put the kids on the curb to be back in that air-con office. But reading an article like this brings it back home. I am female, therefore, I usually look at things from a female perspective. God designed me this way. And feminist or not, the product of feminist generation mother or not, appreciating and riding the coat-tails of feminists or not, I’m thankful for so many opportunities to be with my children, for even on the most difficult days, ‘lucky’ doesn’t describe it. It goes back to that ‘cathedral’ analogy someone sent around a while back. I may not see the actual completion, but no matter what my kids turn out to be from a standpoint of details of their life, I’m optimistic their foundation will be solid, and their contribution to the greater whole of humanity will be one that was worth my ‘over-educated’ time. I feel so ill-equipped most days, but I think that’s because I bought into the lie I needed to have a career outside my home to be fulfilled. And that it was about my fulfillment to begin with.
    My ‘take-away’ from this post… be thankful, be humble, do what I know to be what I should be doing(what works for me & my collective experience/ability/opportunity, not worrying about what ‘works’ for other folks. I too applaud other women when they figure out what works for them. I don’t enjoy the fire-fall in arguing about it. I cringe. But I’m so thankful when I read a post like this.
    Your choice(to be at home with your family) has been a great encouragement to me in enjoying my choices. I’m thankful you blog, and point– with fun, charm & grace– to a loving & gracious God whose opinion of us is really what matters most. Blessings- always to you and yours.

  30. I recently came across your blog and have loved reading through your posts. You certainly have many gifts and I admire your style!

    This post left me a little puzzled, however. You certainly sound like a feminist in this post: you are reaffirming your choice to be home and take care of your family full time – and choice is exactly what the feminist movement was about. Without the feminist movement, you wouldn’t have had the choice to go to medical school and become a doctor. You’d be standing in your house staring out your kitchen window wondering what in the world it would be like to go to school, let alone an advanced degree. So to say that you’re not a feminist – while you have taken advantage of the hard work of the generations before you who have fought so hard for you to have the choice to do with your life as you please – sounds pretty disingenuous.

    You can stay at home full time and be the best homemaker on the planet and be a feminist. Or you can be a career woman with no kids and be a feminist. That’s the beauty of feminism. We can all applaud our choices as women to live the lives we were designed to live. For some women that might be in the home. For others, it is contributing to society in different ways. Feminism is cheering each other on and applauding other women when they better the world – whether that’s by making dinner for their children or helping someone with a medical issue. You choosing to stay home is a gift of the feminist movement, simply because you had the choice.

  31. I needed to read this. I’ve been home now for almost two years and I’m really struggling with feelings of inferiority and I’m constantly questioning whether or not I’m truly contributing. We just moved to a new state from my beloved Texas, where I lived for the past 17 years. I’m really isolated and alone with my thoughts and of course those thoughts are of self-doubt more often than encouragement.

    Thanks for this post.

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