when i started drafting this post, i wrote:

at this particular moment, a feminist mother looks like a woman giddy about her stylin’ new ‘do sitting at her desk, pumping and writing.

and now i suppose i’m the same woman, with a slightly less “new” haircut, but still pumping (or rather, pumping again). maybe there is more consistency to what a feminist mother looks like than i thought. but probably not.

anyway.

Do you ever feel compromised as a feminist mother? Do you ever feel you’ve failed as a feminist mother?

this is a fascinating question. if i’ve identified as a feminist mother, and–like most mothers everywhere, i presume–i feel compromised as a mother, then i suppose i feel compromised as a feminist mother.

i’m sitting here (still pumping) wondering about other ways i’ve felt compromised. what are they?, i keep wondering. and here’s a nice example: my current job. it is not a particularly good job. it’s not very rewarding, it’s not intellectually challenging, it doesn’t bring me much, if any, satisfaction. and that runs counter to my values: i believe in vocations, i believe in enjoying yourself in all you do, i believe in not wasting your time being unhappy (when you can avoid it). so how would i defend keeping this job? in particular, how would i defend keeping this job to an older daughter, for whom i was trying to set a positive example? i’m not sure i could defend it except in the most mundane of ways: there are material exigencies that prompted me to take this job, and in our current economic state there are material exigencies that prompt me to keep it. i can talk myself into feeling better by focusing on the things i am trying to do to create a better professional life for myself, but i suspect i would sound the way children of the ’30s sounded to children of the ’60s: old, tired, having given in. to any extent that i am those things — intellectually, professionally, romantically, psychologically — that feels to me like a compromise.

am i being self-indulgent to cut myself some slack as a dbm with an infant at home? perhaps. perhaps that, too, is a compromise.

i go back and forth with feeling compromised in the home. at my worst, i worry that i set terrible examples for my kids in all kinds of ways: communicating, sharing, loving. at my best, i know that all of these compromises can be talked through, can be worked through. generally, though, i inhabit some middle ground where i know that i am compromising all kinds of things i would prefer not to be compromising, but that i am limited, i am human, there is no choice but to compromise. the only choice is to make the best compromises possible at any given moment.

so…i guess there are many ways i am, or am potentially, compromised as a feminist mother. but i don’t feel that i am ever compromised specifically because i am a feminist mother, unless somehow my feminism is the root cause of all this reflection (in and beyond this post), in which case, i suppose, i am totally compromised.

but not unhappy about it.

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