Why “Working Mother” Is A Redundant Term, Part 1

This needs to be said. And I need to be the one to say it.

I was really proud of my “working motherhood” status for a while. It meant I got the best of both worlds, to live the feminist calling.

Or so I thought.

So I did it all. I birthed a child, parented full-time on my maternity leave, and then it was back to work. Because I have a Master’s degree, for crying out loud. And I needed to use it. And it wasn’t all gratuitous. We needed the income as my husband’s pastoral gig wouldn’t pay the bills alone.

So there I was, commuting or working 10 hours a day, 50 hours a week. My son joined my husband for work and appointments all day for his job. But he only got my nights and weekends, like some kind of joint custody between my husband and I. Sorry, but that’s what it felt like.

So yea, not the best of both worlds.

Me, minus the gross martini and the old cell phone. A recipe for crazy. [click photo for credit]
But I felt judged by some of the moms who stayed home, like I was wrong or even sinful because I didn’t have their values.

Because even though I had to work to support my family, I wanted to work too, at least at that time. And that wasn’t acceptable to some of my stay-at-home friends. Which made me want to rebel against their legalistic ideals of womanhood all the more. I am not saying this is good or right. This is just how I felt.

Then a few things happened as God and I duked it out on the mat. 

1. I realized, “Someone has to raise the children. It could be a caregiver or nanny or daycare provider. But isn’t it ideal if it’s one of the children’s parents?” I know that most stay-at-home moms already knew this, which was the foundation of their sacrifice, but I was an angry feminist. So therefore, a little slow.

2. I got over my anger at femininity. Yes, I was angry at feminine women for being weak. Until Jesus showed me how he embodied gentleness and meekness, leaving me unable to hold grudges against more maternal women, whom I viewed as a threat to the strength of women everywhere. When Jesus says, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…,” we clearly see that the characteristics of men AND women manifested in God’s image, Jesus. This one revelation radically redeemed my view of women.

3. I stopped feeling the need to prove that men are not better than women. I started to genuinely be able to focus on the strengths of both, rather than the inadequacies of both. [I still get my feathers ruffled when I see women who choose to wear skirts, or who are in communities where skirt-wearing is enforced, which I still see as choosing to be oppressed. But y’all, I’m a work in progress. Please be patient with me. I am on the path to loving everyone, but I’m not there yet.]

4. But everything hit the fan when one of my best friends and feminist compadres chose to leave her work in social justice to stay home with her two children. Somehow she and I had to reconcile our feminist empowerment with her choice to stay home.

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In the effort to respect your time and fully hash out this conversation, this post will be continued tomorrow. I will be talking about my revelation of about the term “working motherhood” more in-depth, and why I won’t be using the phrase any longer.

Thank you so much for joining me in this conversation. I respect your opinion, and I hope you’ll respect mine. Please feel free to leave thoughts in the comments section below, and know there will be ever more to discuss tomorrow. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Why “Working Mother” Is A Redundant Term, Part 1

  1. This is so good, Sarah! I can’t wait to read more tomorrow and I love hearing what God’s doing in you. You’re awesome, lady!

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  2. Hey girl! This is lovely. 🙂 I struggled a bit because I entered motherhood earlier than I had planned and before my career even got started. Even as I raise my own two daughters…I wondered if I was somehow short changing them by being their mother full time and not pursuing a career with my hard earned college degree. Would they think that settled? Or that i was incapable? Im wayyy past that now and I enjoy reading the other side of it. I love your approach to this. As I understand, you are expecting? That’s a promotion in my line of work. Looking forward to reading more!

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