Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Motherscribe Interview Series: the 14th interview...

My 14th interview is with Cat. She is 45, married with two children. She is a stay-at-home mom. She has a blog called My Name is Cat.

What does the word feminist mean to you? Has the meaning changed over time? Feminist means standing up for your sister in a world that is often times working against her just because she’s female. I think anti-feminists have tried to make it a dirty word, and they have maybe had some success, unfortunately.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes! I think people assume since I’m a Stay-at-home mom, I’m not a feminist, but they could not be more wrong. I made a decision to dedicate all of my energy to raising my kids, but to tell you the truth, a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m a pretty low energy person. I admire women who have enough energy in them to both pursue an outside career and raise a family or to decide a career is enough for them. Feminism is all about a woman’s making the right choice for her, and the rest of the world supporting that choice.

I believe a true feminist is really a humanist because if we improve the lives for more than half of the world’s population, we improve the lives of all, particularly when it is the half that does most of the child rearing in the world.

Would others consider you a feminist? If they know me well, yes.

If you are a feminist, do you feel comfortable owning that title in your everyday life? Yes, I think I’m clear about my support of women’s rights.

What are some images that come to mind when you think of the women’s movement? The first thing I think of is marching, bra burning and MS. Magazine, but I think that is because those images are synonymous with the beginning of the movement. The images now are of girls and young women who can’t even comprehend the struggles women a generation ago had.

What was the greatest gift of the women’s movement? Acceptance of women as equals. I realize we aren’t there all the way, but I see it coming – at least in this country. My son is on the high school debate team, and it thrills me to see those boys and girls work together in ways even 25 years ago, we would have never done in high school. The boys see the girls as not only their partners and teammates, but also as competent competitors. I’ve never heard one of them say they can beat her in a debate because she’s a girl.

What I also see in them is an appreciation of the natural gifts each sex brings to the table. In the two person events, most of them like to pair up boy/girl because they believe they have an advantage over same sex teams. When I judge, I see the mixed teams often bring more to the table than single sex teams whether male or female.

What was the greatest failure of the women’s movement? True domestic partnership. While women have taken on more and more, we have not demanded that our partners put in their fair share. Although, men do more homecare and childcare than ever before, they don’t do nearly enough, and we, as a society, have let them get away with that. I believe this affects the whole women’s movement in very subtle ways. Women often times do not choose to pursue higher goals because they have so much work at home they are responsible for.

Did your mother work outside the home? When I was around eight she started working part time.

How did that affect you growing up? My mother would never admit it, but she is a true feminist, and she taught her four daughters and son to be that way. She was tired of having to go to my dad for money so she just got a job.

What impression did that leave with you about women working outside the home? I must admit that when she had to work a lot, I missed her. On the other hand, I learned to take matters into my own hands.

Was your mother a homemaker? Yes, she was that primarily.

How did that affect you growing up? I think it made me respect the work it takes to keep a home and raise a family.

Did your father respect your mother? Yes.

Did your mother respect your father? Yes.

Who were your earliest female role models other than your mother? I had a lot of strong women in my life. My grandmother who worked the entire time I knew her. The nuns who taught me were also strong role models. They gave up traditional roles of wife and mother to follow their heart.

What did you dream of being when you were a child? I wanted to be a veterinarian.

Was getting married/partnered a conscious goal or focus early on in your adulthood? Never. I truly didn’t think I would get married, so when I did it was a surprise to myself as well as others.

Is there an event(s) that affected you in childhood/adolescence that impacted your identity in a positive or negative way? I’m sure there is, but I just can’t come up with it.

Have you ever dieted? You’re kidding right? I’m an American female, and although it saddens me to admit it, I do suffer from the weight issues that come with it.

Would you describe yourself as someone with “body issues?” If so, when do you remember this starting? What do you attribute it to? Yes, I was overweight in my early teens, and this is something that has always stuck with me. It’s the old no matter how thin I am, I will always think I’m fat.

What do you wish your mother had told you about marriage, life, anything…that you didn’t hear from her? I can’t really think of anything.

What role did your father play in your childhood?
My father was the provider.

What was your relationship like with your father? Distant.

How do you feel about aging? Actually, this morning when I woke up with my hip hurting – again - the thought that I’m aging hit me for the first time, but I just knocked that baby out of my head and commenced to being young and hip. As my wise older brother says, it beats the alternative.

How do you feel about plastic surgery? Since I’ve had plastic surgery, I guess I feel okay about it.

How do you feel about the sexualizing of young women in our society? Sexualizing of young women and girls is not new to us or our society. Girls’ sexuality has always been idolized and used. Fathers’ have sold and given away their daughters at very young ages. Girls had no choice over who their husband would be. Many times, in order to support themselves and their children, women had no choices except to stay in abusive marriages or become prostitutes. These things are still huge issues in fundamentalist societies such as Saudi Arabia where woman are forced to completely cover themselves as though there body is something shameful. It is places like that where child brides are common.

Yes, there is sexual pressure on girls in our society which is a bad thing, but I would argue that it is actually better than it has been in the past because girls are also given an equal education to boys. They can make choices in their lives that do not center on how a man is going to support them.

Did your mother or another caretaker talk to you about sex and what to expect? No. Everything I learned was on the job experience so to speak.

How was your first sexual experience? Not what I imagined it would be or what I hoped for.

Is marriage liberating or inhibiting sexually? At the beginning, I found it very inhibiting. I had never stuck it out with a sexual partner before, but once you’re married, he’s it. That said, later it became much more liberating because you know and trust this person so well that you can be and do almost anything.

What makes you feel sexy? Being desired by my husband.

Do you have the energy/desire for sex at the end of the day? No, I’m pretty much a daytime kind of girl, luckily our schedules work for that. I think this comes from my waitressing days – work the lunch shift, go home, have sex, take a nap and go back to work for the dinner shift.

What would make your sex life better? It’s pretty darn good right now, so I can’t think of anything.

Why did you decide to be a stay-at-home mom? I just wanted us to raise our children ourselves, and since my husband made way more money than I ever could, I was the one to stay home. If the job situation had been different, we both would have been fine with his staying home. Actually with his job, he has a lot of scheduling flexibility, so he does a lot of the parenting too.

Do you consider it a job? Do you feel that you are valued? Yes and yes.

Do you feel supported by your partner? Very much so.

Do you feel supported by other women? I live in a place that has a lot of SAHM’s so yes, they are very supportive.

What do you love about being a SAHM? I love being the one responsible for the day in and out care of my children. I love the flexibility it gives me.

Is there a dark side of being a SAHM? It can be very lonely especially when your kids are older. You aren’t involved in playgroups anymore, and a lot of moms go back to work once their kids go to school.

What was your career before you had children? Advertising.

Has it been hard to let go of that identity? Or you still identify with that role? I have been at home so long, it is my identity now.

If you had a choice to return to work, would you? No.

Do you believe a happy, fulfilled mom is a better mom whether her choice is to work outside the home or to stay at home with her children? Yes, I chose to be a SAHM and that works for me and my family, but it is not the right choice for everyone. My sister is a working mom and that is the right choice for her.

Can women do it all? This brings me back to supportive partners. If they are in a truly equal partnership, yes, they can. Otherwise, I think it is really hard.

How old are your children? 16 and 13

What do you want to do differently with your children than what you received from your parents? I give them a lot more affection.

What would you like to carry on that your parents established with you? I have the same high standard of expectations as far as school and behavior goes.

How has having children changed the relationship with your partner? Again, you’ve got to be kidding. The change is huge in every single way. I think a lot of divorces happen when babies come into the family because the changes are so profound people just can’t cope with them.

Do you see evidence of “The Mommy Wars” in your everyday life? Not really. Maybe that is because of where I live. I see women supporting each other in their choices.

Do you have dates with your partner? Yes, we spend a lot of time together without the kids.

Do you have personal “ME” time scheduled every week/every day? Yes, blogging is part of that time.

How do you combat stress? Running, yoga and naps (I’m a Southern girl who loves to nap).

Do you get out regularly with girlfriends? Not as much as I’d like. Everyone is so busy, it’s hard to work it in.

Has it been challenging to retain a separate sense of self from your role as mother & wife? I am a mom and wife. It is part of makes me, so I don’t think I can separate that from the rest of me.

Do you help create personal space for your partner? I do try. His job is 100% travel, so when he comes home from a long trip, all of us want to be with him. I think it is a little overwhelming to him, so I try to let him chill a little before we pounce.

Does your partner share in household tasks? He is 50/50 on the parenting. He’s not one of those ‘go ask your mother’ or ‘babysitting his own kids’ kind of dads. He is an all in dad. If I dropped dead today (which I may after I finish this questionnaire), he could take over seamlessly as far as taking care of the kids. Sure things would be different, but they would be fine.

As far as housework goes, he is a very neat person who cleans up after himself: he does his own laundry and cleans up the kitchen. He can feed himself and the kids if he has to, but he is not a great cook. Shopping is pretty much out of his realm.

How did you think your life would be when you got married? How do you feel now? I didn’t give it much thought. It was tough at first because it is such a huge change, but now it is really good for the most part.

What do you yearn for? Life outside my small town.

Are you happy and/or fulfilled with your life? Why?
Yes, I am happy and fulfilled in my life. I have a good, strong marriage to the love of my life, two healthy and for the most part, well behaved kids. I even have a house in the ‘burbs. Oh, no, I just realized I’m living the American Dream/Nightmare. Maybe I need to give it all up to move to Paris.

People ask me if I get bored being a SAHM, and my answer is no. I’m probably less bored than people who work full time, but I’ve always been able to occupy myself even when I was a little kid. Since I’m a SAHM of teenagers, I have a lot of time to pursue my own interests, one of which is blogging – both writing and reading.

Thank you, Cat.


The Motherscribe Interviews are closed to comments. If you'd like to find out more about Cat, please visit her on My Name is Cat.

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