Returning to work after maternity leave is the hardest thing that a woman has to do. I know this from personal experience. I don’t know any woman out there who looks at her baby after taking a maternity leave and says: “I can’t wait to drop my baby off at my mom’s house (or with a daycare provider, nanny, etc.) and spend 8-10 hours a day away from my baby.” Come on. Leaving a baby to return to work is the hardest thing that a mom has to do. It is a heart wrenching experience that gets repeated every day across the country. The little baby’s heart is sad to see the mom leave, and the mom’s heart is wrenched each and every day. If given the choice, most moms would remain home with their babies.
Women today have more professional choices as a result of the feminist movement. Some women in 1950s America may have been bored by staying home with the kids, cooking dinner, and waiting for their husbands to arrive home for dinner each night. I imagine that many working moms today would readily trade places with the 1950s moms. Unfortunately, the economic realities today have created a situation where two incomes are needed to survive.
Rather than empowering women to choose whether to stay or at home or work, the feminist movement created a situation where a woman could not be respected unless she chose the work option. More and more women bought into this notion, made inroads in the legal, medical, and other professionals spheres previously closed to women, and helped increase the earning power of their families. These same women–who are now in the upper echelons of power in the various professional spheres–reached their powerful perches by becoming the functional equivalent of men. Many were unmarried and never had children. Furthermore, they look down on their younger sisters who made the choice to get married and have kids. They believe that since their path was difficult, the path of their younger sisters should be difficult and laden with a trail of tears.
The feminist movement in America has helped women succeed by encouraging women to become like men. We need a movement in America that allows women to succeed professionally while also being women.