for those of you non-math people (like myself, so i am kind of quietly praying that i at least remember 2nd grade correctly enough that i got the title of the post correct), i am wondering how many children one must have before they add up to more than nothing.

and here’s why i am pondering that seemingly ridiculous question:

on saturday afternoon i found myself eavesdropping on a conversation between a few women who chatted as i sat nearby. one of the people was introducing herself to the others, so they had the inevitable ‘where do you live, what do you do, blah blah blah,’ thing going on. i was only half paying attention, but then this woman says something along the lines of and even if i won the lottery, i would still work because i need to get out and do something WORTHWHILE. i could never just stay home!’

and i was like, “well, shut me up and render me speechless while i play that back in my mind to be sure i didn’t just have an auditory hallucination! did she just honestly say that?”

now, this is a mother of a handful of children, several of whom happened to be playing within earshot of this woman.

but wait- there’s more!

then she starts talking about how important she thinks it is for young girls to grow up with good self-esteem, and how she and her husband work with an organization that mentors young women to provide them with role models.

and because i am really truly working on hearing people out before i jump down their throats, i kept quiet to hear how this class-A misogynist prided herself on guiding young women.

now don’t get me wrong. women are awesome. they can achieve great things, and i don’t believe they should be held back or tied down or forced into any role that they do not choose or that doesn’t suit them. in fact, i don’t believe that those things should happen to men either.

but to completely dismiss the role of RAISING HUMAN BEINGS as being worthwhile or having any value just blew me away. and she was so smug and cavalier. here was a mom who bought some feminist package of baloney straight out of a 1970s protest manual and she never got current with her own life.

i have never heard anyone give a moving speech where they said the biggest inspiration in their life was the person who won a nobel prize in chemistry. i have never met someone who i thought had amazing character traits who told me it’s because they emulate some business tycoon. i have never met anyone who has been personally touched by a kindness that was inspired by a movie star or a sports player.

it’s said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. if you think about who has shaped your own life, i would be willing to bet it was a parent or a relative or a teacher or a combination of those.

but to hear this woman tell it, raising your kids is simply just not worthwhile.

i will admit that at first i got super angry. that’s because i’m kind of a baby sometimes and i don’t always react in a refined way. i didn’t blow up at this woman, though, because my reaction was 100% internal. it ate at me throughout the day, and all day yesterday while i stayed in bed with a crashing migraine (coincidence??).

today when i thought about it, it just made me profoundly sad.

i’m sad for this woman who is missing the incredible joy that she could have every second if she had any clue how vital she is in her children’s lives. and i’m sad for her kids.

because kids who hear their mom talk about how she would need to get out of the house to do something worthwhile even if money wasn’t an issue can’t feel too great about their place in her heart.

and that kind of breaks mine.

i hope that these children have other role models in their lives so that they can see that if feminism has taught us anything, it should have taught us that if we are ever going to really have choices, then we have to value the choice to be traditional at least on equal par with going out to work.

because if women who are raising the next generation are devalued, then so are those kids. and that just sets us all up for failure.