I find it interesting that the conversation about "mothers having it all" always centers around women putting their profession back into their lives. There is a negative connotation to the idea of staying at home, being domestic, doing laundry, cooking dinner, and being the primary caretaker. Many women hear, throughout their lives, that it is not enough to be a mother; one must also be successful at work, a domestic goddess, an excellent cook, and, of course, a size 4.
But what is forgotten in all these messages about "leaning in" to our careers is that there is nothing more important than raising children, the next generation. If we, as a society, do not have quality, kind citizens, we have nothing. And who raises those citizens? The parents. Children learn what they see. When they see one consistent caregiver, whether that is the mother or the father, they see that they are the priority and that their lives are important.
Now, it is a luxury to be able to afford to have one person stay home, and it involves sacrifice, which some families cannot make. In this case, there is a totally different reason for going to work and the family understands that.
However, the push for feminism now is to keep your career in your back pocket; to not "lean in" entirely toward your family. The critics say that if you do this, you will have less of an identity, you will have nothing when your kids leave, you will feel empty, and dare I say, "worthless," when your kids leave and go to college.
To which my answer is this. So what? When one retires, one feels the same way: empty, lost, and having to find a new hobby. What does it matter if it is your children who are leaving or your career that is ending? Well, it does matter, in my mind. Yes, someone in the family needs to make a living. Someone needs to pay the bills. But if there is a choice, and someone can be home with the children, to be there, to see the fleeting moments as they pass, to teach and to nurture, why would you choose otherwise? Why wouldn't you just "lean in?"
Sarahlynne loves writing for Shine as a Parenting Guru. She's also the co-creator of merelymothers.com, a website that writes about everything motherhood, from philosophies to fashion.