Sorry Progressives, Motherhood Is Still The Ultimate Career

Written by Peter Heck

Several years ago, the graduating class at the high school where I teach asked me to give their commencement address. In hindsight, I should have known better than to stray from the tried and tested formula for graduation speakers. Young, brash, and always eager to say something that would be remembered, I made the fateful decision to stray from the culturally approved list of platitudes that everyone knows you are supposed to tell high school graduates:

  • “You can do anything you set your mind to.”
  • “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
  • “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”
  • “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Instead, I chose to draw on the limited life experience I had gained after just over a decade of teaching in the public school system and offer what I hoped would be a little bit of countercultural common sense. As a teacher it always cracks me up when I hear people of influence debate and discuss the grave problems with our schools, as well as the best ways to fix them. More money, more technology, higher qualifications, more STEM, less of the arts, smaller class sizes, greater consolidation – the proposed solutions go on and on and on.

While I’m no genius, I’d say that any honest person who has worked for any length of time in the system could say without hesitation that all those things are likely factors somewhere, but they pale in comparison to the overarching issue. If you really want to solve the problem with the American schoolroom, first solve the problems with the American family.

So that was how I wanted to challenge the graduates. In a world that focuses on self-aggrandizement, choose to rebel against it – choose to focus on investing in others, most significantly your future families.

“To solve the problems in our society, we don’t need more millionaire men entrepreneurs,” I told them. “We need invested fathers and devoted husbands. And to solve the problems in our society, we don’t need more women CEOs. We need invested mothers and loving wives.”

I was anything but prepared for the days and weeks that followed. Yahoo News ran the story: “HS Commencement Speaker: We don’t need more women CEOs.” Everyone from the Huffington Post to the Today Show had a go at it, with the supposedly conservative Daily Caller even running a hack piece that largely plagiarized the Associated Press’s version of events without any journalistic investigation.

In one sense, the entire episode was annoying because those who went ballistic intentionally ignored that I was telling both males and females in the class that the most positive contribution they could make to society was investing in their families. I’ve often wondered if I had worded it, “We don’t need more men CEOs or more women entrepreneurs” if it would have been received any better. Probably not.

But it’s also exasperating that those who objected so strenuously to my words did so as though they were offering a vocal defense of women and femininity, when in actuality it was apparent to anyone willing to notice that they were merely expressing a writhing, seething disdain for any woman (or man) who doesn’t acquiesce to the cultural zeitgeist.

Every so often I am reminded of the entire ordeal when these same malcontents show their faces by expressing contempt for similarly expressed views. Take for instance, the recent attack on columnist and full-time homeschooling mom Bethany Mandel.

After Mandel pointed out the paralyzing hypochondriasis that epitomizes so much of our public health field these days, angry progressives launched a withering broadside against her. But please be discerning enough to notice where they focus their self-righteous contempt:

Bethany Mandel is an incredibly accomplished writer, having been published at Fox News and the New York Post, but also the notoriously left-wing New York Times and Atlantic. But since she holds conservative views, particularly when it comes to the shameful conduct of public health officials over the last few years, it’s acceptable to deride and dismiss her as a mere “mommy blogger.”

Is it gross, sexist, and misogynistic? Of course. But those labels will never stick in the larger discourse because they have been stripped of their meaning and, like “racist” and “bigot,” have been redefined to simply mean “a conservative who is winning an argument with a liberal.”

What’s more, Mandel’s response to it all was inspiring:

Sometimes is shocks me the degree to which we as humans respect the wrong things, elevate the wrong professions, look admirably upon the wrong investments, while turning a cold or dismissive shoulder to those most worthy. C.S. Lewis had it right when he famously observed,

The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.

It would be mind-boggling to see the remarkable changes that would take place in our wayward culture if collectively we were smart enough to admit the truth of those words.

Peter Heck is a writer, speaker, and teacher from Indiana. He is married to Jenny, and is the father of three kids, Addie, Bristol, and Grayson. Peter holds to the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture in his teaching and writing, and has a passion for biblical literacy and for demonstrating the Bible’s applicability to all of life. A former radio host, Peter produces a daily podcast and has authored a number of books on Christians and the culture. 

This article was originally published by “Not the Bee.”