I recently had my first baby. My plan has always been to stay home for as short a period as possible, and return to my prestigious career. However, the moment my little girl was born, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I can’t leave her. Not only do I want more maternity leave than planned … I don’t want to return to work at all. My husband makes enough money with his income to live off of, so staying home is an affordable option for us. That being said, I feel that as a dedicated feminist this seems like an anti-feminist choice. What should I do?
Torn in Tulsa
Dear Torn in Tulsa,
Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. May she grow to be a warrior amongst women, stomping the skulls of the patriarchy into a bloody river of female glory.
I totally understand where you’re coming from, as I’ve been there myself. I actually went back to work the day after giving birth, but it’s always a temptation to stay home with your baby. There is a strong, nagging feeling that staying home is the right thing to do.
My advice? RESIST. Be strong! Don’t cave to the internalized misogyny that makes you feel that staying home to raise your own child is your best option. And for the love of everything female, don’t allow your husband to be the sole earner in the family. It doesn’t get more 1950s housewife than that! Before you know it, you’ll be cooking him dinner, and that is despicable.
What matters most is fanning the flame of feminism for future generations, including your daughter. This is best accomplished by returning to work as soon as possible. Preferably tomorrow. Do it for her.
I also encourage you to “free pump” anywhere in the office, to help destroy the stigma of breast pumping. If someone doesn’t like seeing a milking machine strapped to your chest, violently and loudly extracting milk from your breasts for 30 minutes, they don’t have to look.
Being a working mom is a balancing act, which is why dedicating even more time than usual to work is a great way to dive back in. The harder you work at your job, the less you’ll appear like a Handmaiden baby-making machine, and the more seriously you’ll be taken by your co-workers. The last thing you want people to think is that motherhood is the greatest calling in a woman’s life. That would set feminism back a hundred years. Don’t ruin it for us, Tulsa.
A good mom is the one who works 80 hours a week, and barely sees the child she incubated. It seems counterintuitive, but trust me … it really shoves a wrench into the systemic gender-based discrimination we fight daily.
Best of luck to you as you destroy the patriarchy!