Monday, November 15, 2010

We Are Our Mothers' Daugters

I just finished We Are Our Mothers' Daughters by Cokie Roberts.  I've been meaning to read this book for a long time now.  It came out in 1998.  That's 12 years ago -- when I finished college!  I've always loved Roberts' research on women.

I was amazed at the wonderful stories of strong women she shared; I was uplifted by Roberts' inspirational writing.  I was convinced that we women need to work better together whether we work outside the home or not.  I was reminded of my friend's saying, "We're all just doing the best we can."

The experiences of women she shared were inspiring.  They were stories of women who have made a difference in the world.  The things the women changed were things that needed changing, and they were things women generally care about more than men (nutrition labels on food as an example).

But part of me still has to wonder if these women who have done all these wonderful things outside of the home could have also done amazing things inside the home?  I'm sure they did that, too, but could it have been even better?  I also felt that God was left out of the picture.  Roberts book makes a lot of sense if you leave God and His plan for us out.

Roberts suggests that while children are small, it is important to be home, maybe not full-time, with them.  She also mentions that because she worked, she was a better mother (189).  And I get that.  It just also tells me that we're training up our young women to need fulfillment outside the home.

Roberts' mother worked along-side her father -- and you can see how that influenced Roberts in how she lives her life.  It is neat to see what we gain from our mothers just because of their examples.  Interestingly, I learned at BYU's Education Week this last summer that genetically women get pretty much all of their DNA from their mothers.  I've tended to follow the traditions of my father's family for some reason (European/American), but after learning that my core makeup is really after my mother's,  maybe I ought to learn more of her heritage  and traditions (Scandinavian).  If it worked for those women for hundreds of years, maybe it will work for me. . . .

I do like how she mentioned that the Internet may help women find a social network without leaving home (remember this book was written in 1998.  I'd only used the Internet for the first time two years prior!).  Three cheers from me for the Internet!!!  I find much satisfaction in the contributions I can make through the Internet.

Roberts mentioned someone stating that housework is not hard, just lonely.  Amen!

She also said staying home with children is a worthy way to spend a life, but it just wasn't fulfilling for her. She seemed tickled to have a wonderful husband and children and also enjoyed running the house the way she liked.  She always thought of herself as a mother before anything else.  It was nice to see the respect from her for the stay-at-home mom.  For her, there's not the debate between the types of moms.  I think that's a good thing.

This was neat, too -- she grew up Catholic, her husband Jewish.  So, what did they do with their children?  They raised them both religions.  What a novel idea!  She said it got pretty crazy around some seasons of the year, but it was worth it.

In conclusion, Roberts suggested women CAN do it all, just as women have done for generations, but we'll be tired.

I enjoyed this book; although, I didn't completely agree with it. It gave me a nice perspective of the working mother and reminded me of all the awesome contributions of women.  I believe women should have the right to participate in society just as anyone else, but I'd hope more would choose to stay home.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

When I first had Rachel. She was sent to daycare and I worked full time. I would pick her up and start to cry on the drive home because I heard a snippet of her day. I missed a lot of her 'firsts'. I felt like someone else was getting to raise my daughter and I only got to tend to her evening needs only to put her to bed a few hours after picking her up. I mentioned this to a co-worker and she seemed defensive at the notion of my thinking someone else was raising my child. Her child grew up in daycare. I can see the results. Her daughter isn't crazy or demented but I can see where a lot got missed out on. I want to be there for it all. Especially since I don't get the luxury of taking having children naturally for granted. I had to work to get the one I have so I want to be a part of everything as much as possible.