I'll Be in the Kitchen

Mother's Day, 2005. (Credit: Susie Moore)

There was never a time in my life — that I can recall, at least — that I didn't expect to go to college and have a career outside the home. It wasn't that my parents insisted on this; it was just a foregone conclusion. My mother — and grandmother and great-grandmother — had all attended college. 


My grandmother was, at various times, a teacher, a sales clerk, and the Postmaster of her small town. Plus, she ran her own farm. My mom obtained a four-year degree and worked for a time before she and my dad married. Once my brother came along, she was primarily a homemaker (I am the youngest of four), though she did return to work part-time once I was nine or 10. 

Point being: My female role models came from both "sides" of that whole working mom vs. stay-at-home mom divide — which may be the reason I never bought into the "us vs. them" mentality regarding women and the various roles they assume. Either way, I always knew I'd be going to college and, while I definitely wanted marriage and a family, I expected to have a career. My sisters did, too. 

And I did/do have a career — two now, actually. After college, I went on to obtain my law degree and I then practiced law for almost 30 years before hanging up my briefcase to become a writer/editor full-time, with a radio gig on the side. Both careers have been rewarding — and challenging — in their own ways. 

Juggling the working-full-time thing with becoming a mom and then a single mom while she was still a toddler has been a long series of dropped balls and whirling successes — the most notable being that darling girl's graduation from college herself just last weekend. 

There has been guilt and failure and joy and pride — and all manner of things in between — as my girl and I have navigated this winding road. 


So I've sat back a bit and largely held my tongue regarding the "controversy" spun up by Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker's commencement address at Benedictine College, delivered the very same day I watched my girl obtain her degree. 

The first thing I did, though, after seeing the murmurs about it online, was to go find a transcript of the speech and search for the word "kitchen" (because, I was led to believe, Butker had had the unmitigated gall to tell women that was their place). That search, as you might expect, was in vain — because Butker never said that. 

Look, I get why it ruffled feathers — particularly among those who don't lead faith-centered lives and/or who got their accounting of what was said second or third or fourth-hand. I'm going to let folks in on a little secret: There is very little in this world that will get a woman's hackles up faster or more intensely than having her life choices questioned — or perceiving that they are. This is what lies at the root of all the "mommy wars" being waged over the past several decades. Even those women who are truly happy and content with their lives will occasionally fall prey to those self-doubts and wonder if they took the right path(s) or what they might have missed out on. I've watched it play out over and over again: Stay-at-home moms feel slighted and judged for not "working" (even though they work their butts off), and working moms feel slighted and judged for shortchanging their kids and/or spouses (even though they work their butts off). It's defensiveness born of insecurity, and it evokes visceral reactions. 


And I'm sorry (not sorry), but it's different for men. So, I'm quite certain, for many women, hearing a man weigh in on women's roles was probably jarring and touched on an already frayed nerve. Except...they apparently didn't hear (or read) Butker's words regarding men's roles — of leaning into his own vocation as husband, father, and man. Or that he spoke specifically in those terms: of vocation, calling — of divine calling for those of faith. Or that when he spoke of his wife leaning into her vocation as wife and mother, he did so in praise of her, honoring her. I suspect, given that his address was the day before Mother's Day, his wife appreciated the recognition. (And never mind the fact that women weigh in on men and their roles all the time — seemingly without causing offense.) 

They apparently took his reference to the "diabolical lies" women have been told as an admonishment that there can be only one path for women — that of homemaker — rather than a condemnation of the notion that those who do choose that path are somehow lesser-than. 

I won't lie — I've fallen prey to the defensiveness many times myself. Always, it stemmed from a comment or observation that poked at my own self-doubt. I've spent the better part of 22 years damning myself for not being good enough — feeling like I shortchanged my job at times while worrying about tending to my daughter and home; feeling tremendous and constant guilt for shortchanging my daughter because I had work responsibilities. All while knowing I've worked my butt off and tried my hardest. So, if someone were to say something I perceived as critical of my effort...hoo boy, that could set me off. 


We joke about it now, but my daughter would be the first to tell you meal preparation while she was growing up was not my strong suit. My mom? She was an ace. She planned and prepped and cooked healthy (or at least filling) meals for a family of six and made it seem easy. Me? I was constantly racing to get out the door in the morning and not getting home until well after 6:00 pm, so if I managed to have a tasty, nutritious meal put together at dinner time, it was a minor miracle. Still, my daughter didn't starve, nor did she subsist solely on fast food. 

In recent years, as I've become more self-conscious regarding my weight and dietary health, I've leaned into more deliberate meal planning and prepping. Particularly now that I work from home, that's easier to do. And it's rewarding — I enjoy cooking and experimenting. And I love the benefits of eating healthier. 

I love my current job — even when it occasionally makes me want to pull my hair out. 

And unless or until I win a small lottery, I need the income. 

But I'm at my happiest — my most content — when I'm socializing with friends, celebrating with family, enjoying a good meal with my handsome beau, hanging with my daughter, playing with my silly puppy, or, indeed, puttering around my kitchen. None of those things involve my career(s). 


If someone were to scroll through my Twitter or Facebook timeline over the past decade-and-a-half, the vast majority of photos they'd find would be of family, friends, cool places I've traveled, doggos, food I'd fixed (or had fixed for me), and my daughter. They'd find very few photos of courthouses or pleadings, of edit screens or the spreadsheets I regularly compile to track various data. 

I suspect the same is true of most of my female friends and acquaintances. 

So, tell me again, what is it we hold dear? 


Woke Outrage Mob Comes for Harrison Butker, but It's What the City of KC Did That Takes the Cake

Harrison Butker's Official NFL Jersey Makes the Bestseller List As Wokesters Cry in Their Milk

Maher Comes to the Defense of Harrison Butker and Skewers the Mania of the Left


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