Dreaming Beyond the SAHM Dream
I often hear of women who say their dream is to be a “stay at home mom”. This of course is an admirable goal; however, its a dream that is entirely dependent upon someone else. That being upon a man providing the resources to make that dream come true. Not to mention, dependent upon finding a man in the first place and not having fertility problems. A lot of women struggle to even find a decent man, let alone one that is a good provider.
I have a love/hate relationship with being a SAHM and I too once waxed poetically about my SAHM dreams. What hit me though only very recently and I think this is why I feel such confliction is that I am not truly in control of this dream. It depends on my man’s income and whether we can afford for me to not work. Right now, things are going good, but at any moment money/jobs/economy can change and my dream is yanked. This isn’t the 1960s where men had stable jobs for 30 plus years and you can be the “set and forget” SAHM.
When being a SAHM is the only dream a woman has, she actually doesn’t have any dreams for herself. Because whether the SAHM life comes true or not is not entirely in her control. A dream to pursue some career, hobby, skill, or craft is something she has total control over. Sure, there may be some roadblocks, but it is up to her to overcome those. Such as finding the money to pay for school or having the self-discipline and patience to learn a craft.
Without a dream that is solely dependent on you, I think this is how we get to Betty Freidan’s “the problem that has no name”. You can easily become a bored, desperate housewife without a dream you can truly own, It becomes an unspoken problem that can causes restlessness. As Freidan suggested, women need something more than just being mothers and homemakers.
I like the idea of women having dreams that are skill based rather than position or role based. Once you master a skill, you own it. It is yours to claim and use. No one can take it away from you. You earn your college degree and all hell can break loose, but that degree is still yours. Being a SAHM is a wonderful dream, but for a woman’s well-being it shouldn’t be her only dream. She needs something else that she can totally own.