This blog is dedicated to Ale and Pao for going against their own culture to serve their families. You are inspirational to me!
In light of this week's celebration of mothers, I want to share some thoughts I've been working through while living here. You see, being a mom is a HUGE dream of mine. And when I say huge, I mean gigantic. I have wanted to be a mom since I was 3 and my brother and sister were born. I think tends to be a somewhat natural desire among women across cultures. But how motherhood looks, what is expected of mothers is quite different from one culture to another.
One of the benefits of living in another culture is being able to judge more clearly your own. One of the big differences between chilean and gringo culture is the role of the family. Here, families spend a lot of time together. I mean, seriously, even my adult students will spend all day saturday at their parents house. Just hanging out. No particular purpose. I think this is great. I love that families know how to relate to each other and that they like to just spend time together.
Recently though, I've been noticing that women in chile really value working. I assume this is strongly related to their desire for financial independence which is a fairly new concept here. So women study hard in university, and work hard in their jobs to get ahead. Now, in the states, we do to. But there is a growing trend, or at least I think there is, among both religious and non religious women to value their place at home. Now, before you go and call me antiquated and sexist, let me explain. There is a growing trend among women to find satisfaction in doing things that deal with the home. I have girlfriends (and some guy friends for that matter!) who like to knit. A lot of my girlfriends are interested in making their home a lovely welcoming place, cooking healthy and delicious meals, and when the time comes that they have kids, a lot of my friends are choosing to stay at home. Having the "freedom to stay home with your kids" is becoming a value in our society.
So where does Chile stand on this matter? Well, today in one of my classes I mentioned staying home with kids and the two women in my class literally cringed. One even declared "that's insane". In their opinion it is absolutely ridiculous to want to stay home and focus on keeping your house and raising your kids. I think the two women (one is actually already a mother) in my class are fairly representative of chilean women's feelings toward being a "homemaker". Why clean your house if you can hire a maid? Why cook if you can hire a peruvian maid who can cook even better than you can! Why stay home and care for your child all day when you can hire a peruvian maid who takes care of children. It is very common here to have this situation. I have a one bedroom +livingroom apartment and I have students all the time telling me to get a maid.
But I value being a woman who can "keep house". I want to be a good wife and mom someday and to me that means I want to know how to keep my house clean, how to cook well, how to fix things in my house, and how to give up some of my independence for the sake of my family. I am wary of judging cultures as good or bad. But I do think we can see cultures that fit more or less what the bible teaches. In this case, I refuse to adapt to chilean culture. I refuse to find my value in how independent I can be. It's strange since at this point in life, I am SO independent. I think it will be a challenge to give this up, especially when the culture around me is telling me that it's foolish to give up your job for your family.
But I want this. I want to honor God as a wife. Honor Him as a mom. So I will fight for it. And its encouraging along the way to see that there are some, although very few, women here who are also fighting for this "freedom". Our church is very blessed that the two moms in our church have both given up their jobs to stay at home with their kids. Ale and Pao, you are such an encouragement and model to all of us. Thank you for your service not just to your family, but to the whole church.