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May 18, 2024

I’m a devoted mom. I love to cook…& I’m a fierce feminist. ~ Kelsey Kraemer

*Another mindful perspective: An Open Letter to Harrison Butker.

My home life as a mother is precious to me—as the foundation, not ceiling, of my independence.

In response to Harrison Butker’s commencement speech this week at Benedictine College, in which he told female graduates that their highest aspiration should be getting married and having children, I say:

being a mother is my most honorable role—yet far from my only.

I do value a rich home life—each family member contributing to the rhythm of home in their own way, whether that be creating healthy & non-harming meals, shaking out blankets in the sunshine, washing and drying dishes (knowing it’s more fun with your beloved), paying bills, making a communal pot of tea, reading to the children or helping with homework, or initiating a dance party in the living room.

I also believe in women’s choice: whether it’s the choice to have a career, have children, both, or anything beyond or between. I don’t participate in homemaking things because it’s “woman’s work,” but rather because it’s one way to create a loving environment for my family.

I’ve been a single mom for four years, and throughout motherhood have been working near-full time as a birth doula and women’s health yoga therapist. While parenting has been the most rewarding (and challenging, and definitely the most under-paid) “job” I’ve had, it doesn’t minimize my drive to be of benefit beyond our home. In fact, being a multi-passionate woman is part of what makes me whole—regardless of which “part” society, or Harrison Butker in this week’s case, demands women play.

Being a Mother is everything wrapped into one—lack of sleep, late-night diaper changes, a time machine back to childhood wonder, unexpected glimpses of pure it’s-so-damn-worth-it joy. It’s the greatest life venture I’ve embarked on so far…and I hope to welcome more children into the world with my wonderful partner, who respects and admires the multitudes of who I am in our family and community, both.

So when the kicker of my hometown’s professional football team insists women’s place is in the home, he not only aims to minimize the successes that the female graduates at Benedictine College have achieved the past four years, but to pigeonhole them into a chauvinistic ideal of what it means to be a woman.

As a fan of some aspects of the “good old days”—take the 50s and 60s era, including fashion like Jackie O or Audrey Hepburn-esque skirt-suits, sitcoms like I Love Lucy, and of course my dear baby boomer Mother born in ‘55—I also recognize the limitations for women during this time, including pay inequity, lack of contraceptive rights, and minimal representation outside of the home. While events in recent years including the overturn of Roe v. Wade have threatened to backtrack us to a time where women were viewed solely as vessels for child-bearing, exercising our right to vote can prevent a further loss of women’s basic rights (say, to have our own bank account or PO Box) let alone bodily autonomy.

Roles within the family and in broader society should not be rigid titles based on gender, but rather fluid vocations based on one’s individual strengths and passions. This means empowering, not pigeonholing, women.

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