recent letter to the Smith Quarterly:
"Regarding a letter writer's plea for greater representation of Smithies who have embarked on "new jobs as stay-at-home moms," let me suggest that the Quarterly is the wrong place to look. While becoming a mother is the most truly miraculous thing, it is also the most commonplace. What Smith prepares us for is something else- to make our unique contribution to this world. The Alumnae Quarterly is the place to read about the jaw-dropping, amazing things Smithies are doing to make the world a better place. It's inspiring - if often a bit intimidating (we aren't all destined to swim the English Channel or find the cure for something - myself included). In the lightening flash of twenty years, which is what it will feel like when the letter writer has successfully launched her children into adulthood, she will be glad if her only job was not "stay-at-home mom" - and the readers of the Quarterly will be fascinated to read all about it."
Now, my initial response was quite emotional - I felt like this lady had personally belittled my current full-time position as the CEO of my family. I was sad and my feelings were hurt. Then, I just got mad.
I was unaware that raising children to be respectful and creative citizens of this world was not a "unique contribution." Perhaps, I should have just kept on working at Goldman Sachs, dumped my children in daycare and hoped for the best. Affordable childcare that reflects my values, encourages creativity and boosts my children's confidence as human beings just does not exist where I live (again, I said affordable). I suppose that if I had continued to work, I surely would have relished those oh-so-productive Monday morning meetings or skipped my way home knowing that I helped very wealthy people make even more money. I definitely would not have regretted not watching my children learn to walk and talk and blossom into little people - I mean, how unsatisfying. Plus, raising children has got to be the easiest and most "commonplace" job. She did, however, raise a point that I had overlooked - I was unaware that being a stay-at-home mom lasts for "twenty years" - I guess being home while my kids are young and then going back to work when they head to school is not an option.
My point with my initial letter was to reach out to the Smith community and see what other mothers (it is an all women's college after all) are doing to raise their children. I agree that the Quarterly is inspiring - there are thousands of out-of-this-world successful women who have amazing lives to share - but what about the other women who are helping to raise the future generation? I am sure there are no "unique" upbringings happening - no traveling or living in foreign lands, no living off-the-grid on a homestead, no creative ways of bypassing the "system" and certainly no ideas for creating impressive and different learning environments. The world is constantly changing - so what are we doing to foster children who can adapt to this change? I figured having gone to such a prestigious college, there would be a handful of extraordinary and progressive stories.
Well. I guess I will just go back to reading Glamour and eating bonbons on my couch.