Motherhood: What Women Really Want (and Many Aren’t Getting)
I recently ran across an ABC News article by Jessica Mendoza, a mother of two.
As an analyst for ESPN, Mendoza has a pretty high-profile, demanding job to balance with her role as a mother. Yet in spite of these demands, Mendoza decided to add something else to her plate a few years ago: homeschooling. The reason she did it is revealing:
“I am gone every weekend from the end of March through the end of October. When my oldest son started school, I realized I was losing too much time with him. When I was off work, he was at school and when he was off from school I was away at [Major League Baseball] games.”
Even though the schedule is full, Mendoza loves the fact that she is now able to spend quality time with her children and isn’t missing so many of the special moments that only come for a few short years in one’s life.
Mendoza is able to pull off such a feat because she has unique work hours and the ability to engage in a hybrid form of homeschooling. But what about the many other mothers who can’t do the same? Are they, like Mendoza, feeling a loss over the fact that their jobs are pulling them away from precious time with their children?
According to Ashley McGuire at the Institute for Family Studies, that’s a very real possibility. McGuire raises the unorthodox idea that society is sending young women down a path which leads away from their true desires:
“I’ve long argued that college does absolutely nothing to prepare young women to think about anything beyond their career interests, including how to gel those interests with what for most women will become an interest in marriage and children that is likely to come quicker than they anticipate.”
That women have a deep desire for marriage and family is not something that McGuire dreamed up on her own. Polls show that half of all U.S. women want to have children (up from 46 percent in 2002) and that many are having far fewer than they really desire.
McGuire also underscores this idea by pointing to the expert opinion of Canadian professor and psychologist, Jordan Peterson. By the time women hit their 30s, Peterson explains, one of their main interests in life is to nurture children and raise a family. Unfortunately, decisions made earlier in life with regards to education and career often make these rising desires difficult.
Recent numbers from Pew Research bring this point into sharper focus. For many years the number of college-educated women have been steadily rising. As of 2017, roughly 38 percent of women had bachelor’s degrees compared to 33 percent of men.
These numbers seem great until one considers the ramifications. Will young women be too constrained by debt to actually leave the careers they have chosen when the deeper, feminine desires for marriage and family begin to well up within them? And even if they aren’t constrained by debt, will they feel compelled to continue their career because of social pressure?
Today’s society works overtime to proclaim its devotion to women and their right to be anything they want to be. Perhaps it’s time we recognized that many women may happily choose to be wives and mothers… if only society would stop throwing up roadblocks and detours to those goals.
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Flickr-David Torcivia (CC BY 2.0)