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Happy Being a Woman

The truly fulfilled woman is one who loves and is loved in return, one who gives completely of herself to her husband, her children, and to society
by Lucrecia Rego de Planas | Source: Catholic.net

The other day, while waiting for my children to come out of their swimming class, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between two women in front of me.

They must have been around 35-40 years old. One wore a tailored suit, with a briefcase hanging from her shoulder and a baby of some six months in her arms. The other, in pants, was carrying a paddleball racquet, one leg clutched by a little girl of around three years. Both women had their nannies along.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you…how have you been?"

“Man…always running like crazy. They just gave me my old boss’ job. Of course, I’m really happy…but exhausted.”

“That’s great, congratulations! But…how’s it going with your baby?”

“Well, I get home really late, almost not in time to see him, but…you know what they say, it’s the quality of your time that counts, not the quantity. And when I get home, I give him 100 percent.”

“I’d love to go to work. But right now, I’m a full-time mom. Perhaps when the kids are grown.”

A simple conversation, one that can be heard every day in any place, and that reflects the discontent felt by a great many women today, whether or not they work outside of the home.

Women who work…dissatisfied

If we take a moment to look at a woman who works outside the home, we always see the external appearance of self-fulfillment and pride in herself, someone who is constantly busy, as if trying to make everyone else see that she has indeed successfully achieved it all - mother, wife, and professional – something that the world says is impossible.

People tell a woman who does not work outside the home that they envy her, saying things like, “How nice that you don’t have to work, no wonder you keep your house so beautiful,” all the while mentally criticizing her. “She gets up at 10 a.m., the lazy thing.”

The working woman lives with continual stress because she wants to show the entire world that she neglects nothing, that she is perfect in everything, that she is Wonder Woman. Nevertheless, deep down, she feels guilty for not being with her children enough, guilty that her “self-fulfillment” must come at the cost of her family.

Of course, in public she defends and justifies herself with the “quality over quantity” argument, even though she can see from a mile away that it is not true.

Everyone (especially women) knows that children do not need a mother who kisses and hugs them for half an hour a day. They need a mother who is there at all the right moments to care for them, comfort them, correct them, and train them. In other words, all the time.

Women who don’t work…also dissatisfied

The woman who doesn’t work might wish that she did, because having a university degree yet filling her time with playing tennis, making migajón flowers, and going to the supermarket is all terribly boring, but…she pretends to be happy, because she’s heard that “good” women dedicate themselves exclusively to their children and home. She hides her inner sense of frustration that, because of her children, she is unable to fulfill herself.

If she is with another woman who does work, she may tell her, “You’re really something, you’re amazing,” but is thinking to herself, "She's dumped her children off on the chauffer and the nanny."

What’s worse, she knows that, despite being a “full-time mom” to her children, she also leaves them (maybe even more than that other woman does) so that she can go to her various activities – the gym, sewing, pastry-making, painting, literature and contemporary art classes, to the beauty salon, out to coffee with her friends, to the bank, to the supermarket, and to all of those places that housewives go.

The perpetrators of this dissatisfaction...men, of course

Without doubt, men are to blame for women feeling dissatisfied today. Wanting to please her, men have consented to treat woman like a man, and as such have brought about a dilemma for her that should never have existed: Should I work in order to fulfill myself, or…not work, and be a good wife?

Men forgot that woman operates differently than they do, simply because she is not a man.

Man, although he might have several roles in life, is someone who becomes absorbed in the task at hand, and when he is at work he is totally focused on his work, forgetting that he is a husband and father. When he is in his role as husband, he doesn’t think about work. His brain is programmed to think about one thing at a time.

Woman, on the other hand, can have five things going at the same time. She is perfectly capable of attending to a business call while changing a diaper, while reviewing the other children’s homework and giving the cook the menu for the following day.

This is nothing out of the ordinary, because God has given women a “multi-tasking” brain that renders them capable of exercising several roles at the same time, without taking away from any of them.

So when did the dilemma begin?

Even before the 19th century, work was an integral part of the life of the woman, who performed her roles as wife, mother, housewife and worker naturally. Nobody thought anything about it when the wife went out to help someone who was sick, or to attend to a job in the market, the family business, or agricultural or farm work. Woman had always worked as a woman (not as a man), and this was natural. The only women who always stayed at home were either ill or handicapped.

With the Industrial Resolution in the 19th century, men saw that factory work was too rough for woman (which it was) and, wanting to protect her and his family from maternal neglect, they completely took away the option of sharing her talents with the world. Men decided that they would dedicate themselves to business and that woman should strictly dedicate herself to the home, thus presenting her with a previously-nonexistent problem: motherhood, yes – work, no.

This masculine decision resulted in an important loss to the intrinsic identity of woman, who felt called to give of herself not only to her husband and children, but to society as well. The woman of the 19th century, like the woman of today, knew that she was completely capable of attending to children, husband, house, even having the time and ability to attend to others. Her giving nature felt imprisoned within the small space that she was allotted, so she rebelled – and for good reason.

It was then that woman, out of the dissatisfaction of only doing housework and backed by the movement that gave rise to the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir, asked for the right to work again.  But - and here was the fatal flaw - the feminist movement, instead of asking for woman's rights as a woman, asked that she return to the workforce under the same conditions as those of man. Once the proposal was accepted, she was really in an unenviable position, because woman will never be able to work as a man. Woman should work like a woman, and man should work like a man.

I don’t deny that woman is capable of taking on the responsibilities of any work position, and that she can complete them perhaps better than any man, because by her very nature she is called to give herself unconditionally, to involve herself completely in what she is doing. Easily impassioned, she possesses an impressive strength for overcoming obstacles. But in order to be able to do something well, she must do it in an integrally feminine way, which means never forgetting or abandoning for a single moment her obligations as wife, mother, and keeper of the home.

Having demanded equality with men, woman became enmeshed in the “rules of the game” – work schedules, extensive workdays, competition within the company – that were impossible to accomplish without neglecting her other roles. With conditions equal to those of men and incompatible with her roles of wife and mother, woman was confronted with the opposite dilemma: Yes to work meant no to motherhood.

Instead of fighting for the right to devote and give of herself to others, to enrich and help the world, which is the desire of woman’s heart, the feminist movement distorted the message and demanded for woman things totally contrary to love, things born of self-centeredness: the right to self-development, to self-betterment, to self-enrichment, to self-fulfillment.

With this, she lost her identity as a woman. By exchanging love and the desire to give of herself for selfishness and the desire for fulfillment, woman’s heart was damaged.

As a direct result, the family started to deteriorate by having at its core women who were frankly damaged…women who began to see children as “enemies” or “obstacles” to fulfillment, and by the same token began to have fewer children, more time for themselves and, consequently, were more selfish - the victims of which are now husbands, children, and society.

What can we do to find true fulfillment?

The key is in restoring woman to her rightful place and once again allowing her to give fully, completely, of herself. Only in doing so will woman feel truly fulfilled.

Today more than ever, the world needs woman. She cannot, and should not, waste the gifts that she has received, even when she might have decided not to formally enter the workforce.

It is unfair, not only to her, but for all of society, that a woman who has studied, has a professional career, knows several languages, who has an enormous heart for giving of herself to others, should keep these gifts hidden, locked away and useless, filling her free time instead with gym exercises, going out for coffee, to malls and beauty salons.

The truly fulfilled woman is not one who enjoys great professional success at the cost of neglecting her family. Neither is she someone who selfishly stays home, comfortable and discontented. The truly fulfilled woman is one who loves and knows that she is loved in return, one who gives generously and completely of herself to her husband, her children, and society.

In the same way that eating, sleeping, bathing and cooking, playing tennis and going out to visit a friend are all compatible with motherhood and correct child training, so also is working. That separation should never have been made, because work is not merely a woman’s right, rather it is her natural responsibility toward the whole world.

The secret lies in doing work for love and not out of self-centeredness, by sharing as much with the world as one has received, and not for the desire to occupy a successful position. Children are able to recognize perfectly their mother’s intentions. Just as they will reject a selfish mother who abandons them to seek her own satisfaction, they will admire one that they know leaves them only for a little while in order to better a world in urgent need of her wisdom, tenderness, and love.

Translation: Elizabeth Segura - Catholic.net Volunteer

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Post a Comment
Published by: Perla
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
I have the most wonderful mother in the world, never selfish, always given everything she got to her husband and daugthers, and also she did never work.My mother still happy after 50 years of marriage with my Dad.

Published by: Perla
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
I have the most wonderful mother in the world, never selfish, always given everything she got to her husband and daugthers, and also she did never work.My mother still happy after 50 years of marriage with my Dad.

Published by: Perla
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
I have the most wonderful mother in the world, never selfish, always given everything she got to her husband and daugthers, and also she did never work.My mother still happy after 50 years of marriage with my Dad.

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