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the lone home ranger

Home, home on the range,Where the husband and children play;Where seldom is heard a discouraging wordAnd the wife does the housework all day.

I used to feel like I was the only woman in the world having kids. Thankfully, I’m no longer all by myself, as many of my girlfriends and family are joining the maternal ranks. But staying home with their little rug rats? Not many. I’m back to flying nearly solo again. When told I don’t work, most people my age will say, with a somewhat contemptuous sneer, "I could never do that…but good for you!" Interestingly, I find baby boomers to be the most supportive of my decision to stay home with the girls. What should we call that shift? The women’s un-liberation movement? Or is it possible these women learned the hard way that they fought two battles: the good fight…and the unnecessary fight?

A curious sentiment I’ve heard from the baby-boom generation is the Andy Rooney-esque claim that my generation complains a lot about parenthood, while at the same time having more tools to deal with parenthood than they had. Some even go so far as to call us "the entitlement generation." Contrast their observation with a recent NPR article, noting parents don’t complain as often as they should. I have to wonder whether the accusation has some merit. Do we complain as much as they say we do? Let’s suppose for a moment it’s true. If we really do voice our opinions too much, who is responsible? Us for feeling worthy of having it all, or our fore-mothers for fighting to give us the chance to feel that way? I like to think it was all the rabble-rousing our hippie moms did in the ’60’s and ’70’s that paved the way for our ability to speak our minds. So why does it seem they have less pride in our expressiveness than resentment?

Don’t get me wrong; I am entirely thankful for their hard work. I’ve enjoyed having a career, felt valued in my position by both my male and female peers and superiors, and made the same salary as my male counterparts. My happy work situation would not have been possible without the change incited by the women’s libbers. Call me entitled, but I think we CAN have it all–work when we want to work, and stay home for a while too. However, a byproduct of the feminist revolution is our society’s disdainful view of homemaking. It’s as though we fought for the opportunity to choose our destiny and then immediately narrowed our options again. Ten years ago, I would have told you there was no way I would ever quit my job to raise my kids, believing it to be a prison only befitting those crafty moms with traditional values or the unfortunate few without a college degree.

I could be among the few for whom this stay-at-home situation works, but I consider my work as a "home ranger" and my dear hubby’s to be equal in keeping our household afloat, and as far as I know he does too. Whereas we once continuously jockeyed for position at dish or laundry time, we no longer squabble about which chores will be done by whom. I foresee myself going back to work full time in a few years, and I am appreciative to have the option to do so. I just hope our generation will teach our daughters to celebrate the many choices available to women instead of judging each other’s decisions.