Columnist: motherhood as shouldn’t bring shame

Stacy Van Zuiden

(U-WIRE) LINCOLN, Neb. – Girls, do you ever have a day at the university where you think to yourself: “What do I really want out of life?” And one of the first thoughts is, “Gee, I really would like to be a good wife and mom.”Should you feel guilty about it if it came to mind? Is there a necessity to make an addendum? Like, “Sure, I want to be a good mom and wife and work in my field for at least 20 years.” Is that more palatable to the feminist eardrum?At the conclusion of last semester, a group called ClubMom conducted a study. The group, which is geared toward mothers of all walks, was curious about the contrasts and comparisons among working and stay-at-home moms. Who led more fulfilling lives and why?The study concluded that almost all moms would choose family over careers. It specified that only 8 percent of women would choose to have full-time careers if money were not an issue. It added that precisely 60 percent of women said they would prefer to have part-time jobs.It was consistent in nearly all areas: stay-at-home women had higher percentages of satisfaction mentally, spiritually, in their marriages and in raising their children. Has the feminine mystique become obsolete?The next wave of mothers will probably fall in line with that correlation – at least that’s what I’m led to believe by observations about young women here at UNL.I have had the privilege of knowing some of the most talented and capable women on this campus and, I would venture, on the planet. One was a biological engineering major who, at the end of the day, wanted nothing more than to settle down. And, as another friend put it so well, “Be half the mom to my kids that my mom was to me.”Female students aren’t devaluing their education – I know mine has the utmost importance – but they are paralleling it with a desire to be mothers. They aren’t ignoring the fact that oftentimes a choice is forced. You can’t misrepresent that as an apathetic attitude toward education.In October, New York University completed a study after having its undergraduate female students do some soul searching. They were enticed by a previous study by the New York Times of women at Harvard, Yale and the University to Pennsylvania (why the University of Pennsylvania I’m not sure). The New York Times article author wrote that “many women at the nation’s most elite colleges say they have already decided that they will put aside their careers in favor of raising children.” And this is precisely what I find to be true here at UNL.New York University, bound and determined to prove the study wrong, found that their female students “want it all.” It cited that 72 percent of its female population plans on attending graduate school. Which they translated to mean they wouldn’t give up career aspirations for their families.I simply don’t believe that to be true or at least is not the norm. For once I think the New York Times was right; female students want to be the best mothers and wives they can be and it might be at the sacrifice of what many in academia would consider their “careers.”Isn’t that perfectly repugnant?I think it’s phenomenal. And what that comes down to is that it is unacceptable that any woman should feel ashamed for ascertaining she might in fact “give it all up for her kids and husband.” After all, what really would she be giving up? Not a challenge, that’s for sure.We watched our moms take on the task for ourselves. In hindsight, it isn’t difficult for daughters to see how their moms probably went from young and reckless twenty-somethings to the selfless creatures they are today.As rigorous as a bachelor’s degree is, it’s not the rite of passage into motherhood. That journey instead is the extreme character makeover, the hardest job you’ll ever love and a greater life transition than four years of college (or so I’ve been told). If it weren’t, why would moms continue to do it for thousands of years?Just as an example, my stepmom once got a vacuum cleaner for her birthday and – here’s the amazing thing – that’s what she wanted! I can’t fathom reaching a point where a carpet-cleaning device is more valuable than a new pair of stilettos, but it happens.In light of other campuses, it’s fair that we think about this for ourselves. I don’t imagine every woman to fit a mold, as history has tried that once already. I do imagine a lot of what women ultimately value has stayed the same for decades. When people ask you what you really want out of life you should be able to tell them without feeling the repercussions of societal pressure that a career completes you.So pull out those pearls baby, you’re not alone!