On one of the many standardized tests I took in school, I remember the informational section asked you to list your parents' educational attainments. For my father, it was easy, I knew he had completed law school, so I carefully filled in the bubble next to "post-graduate degree" with my No. 2 pencil. For my mother, however, I paused, hovering over the pre-printed circles. I know she graduated college, I thought to myself, but did she have a post-graduate degree? Unsure, I filled in "college degree" and resolved to ask her when I got home. When I did, I discovered that my mom does indeed have a Masters degree in education.
Society still seems to value the important work of motherhood less than other occupations. You don't get social security credit for raising children, or really any of the societal status that comes with working "outside the home." My mom is a smart woman who I'm sure could have been a great teacher, school superintendent, or anything else she really wanted to be. I was lucky that she choose to
I'm all about supporting women who make the choice to be moms. It's a really tough job, and I admire so many of my friends who make that sacrifice (though I don't know if they would term it a sacrifice, and I don't mean anything derogatory by use of that term). But the important thing to note about this is that it's a choice. Some women who do have children work outside the home. Whether it's out of economic necessity or their own volition, working women don't love their children any less. I work with some pretty amazing women who have chosen to be moms and accountants, and there's nothing wrong with that.
I don't think I've said anything above that hasn't been said before (and better) by others, but the point I want to underscore here is that both stay-at-home moms and working moms are really feminists. Feminism is about making choices and owning those choices - it's about giving women every opportunity to grow and develop in whatever path they choose. Feminism says that if a woman can run a household, she can run a country, and vice versa. There are trade-offs and opportunity costs that come with each road, but feminism is about giving women more roads than one.
Just a side note about one of the worst straw-man arguments against feminism. Feminism is not some kind of femi-nazi cult requiring all women to "be like men" or even to be the same. Feminism is about unlocking the potential greatness of 50% of the world's population, recognizing the talent and abilities of each women, and removing the conscious and unconscious roadblocks to success that hinder the progression of women (and, by extension, hinder the progression of men too!). I'm lucky that my college educated mother read to us, cooked for us, and generally put up with us in the house for 18+ years. I'm grateful she was also a feminist who taught me to think for myself.
I'll end with a clip from the movie "Mona Lisa Smiles" about choosing a "traditional" woman's role.
Scene from "Mona Lisa Smiles," - Julia Roberts and Julia Stiles "You told me I could be anything I wanted"