If You Give a Woman a Cookie . . .

snickerdoodle aIf you give a woman a cookie . . . apparently, that may cause her such fear she’ll run in the opposite direction of her personal dreams. This was the lesson the writers of the television show “Scandal” decided was worth sending out into the world last week.

Have you noticed that in our effort to improve things, sometimes we make simple things complicated and then just lose our way?

Take being a wife and mother. At one point, we vilified women who desired to work outside the home. Their ambitions and contributions weren’t valued and this needed correction. I applauded the correction because I was alive and female while the cultural Titanic turned.

Unfortunately, now we’ve crashed headlong into an iceberg we could have seen coming. The vilification of all things home making came clear to me as I watched the fall finale of “Scandal.” The main character had a life-changing epiphany because a Senator’s wife dared to ask her, not her thoughts on policy, not her opinion on foreign affairs, not her assessment of the economy, but for the name of a cookie served by the White House. The horror. The shame of being asked about a cookie seemingly drove this intelligent young woman to make the only currently reasonable decision she could make: to break free of the entanglement of a committed relationship with the man she loves and impending motherhood lest she be trapped or lost inside the role.

Nevermind that as a staffer for the president, she’d performed similar duties and seen it as an honor. She’d told him which tie to where, handled trivial matters without question, and happily worked behind the scenes without recognition in order to support the same man. No, now those same actions became menacing threats because she performed them as his life-partner.

Olivia Pope, unafraid of terrorists, the media, thugs with guns, or men with power, was frightened off from pursuing her personal goals by a snickerdoodle.

When did we get here and why would we remain in this place?

Why do we write Sunday feature articles about a woman who opens a bed-and-breakfast because she has a knack for interior design, hospitality, and delicious muffins but show contempt to a woman choosing to do the same for her own family?

Why do we honor women who commit to cleaning up the planet or volunteer to wash oil from seabirds but dishonor women who housekeepingchoose to clean their homes and care tenderly for family pets?

What merit is there in lauding women who respond to the call to care for other people’s children by running daycare centers and preschools or providing foster care for babies but chide women who choose to care full-time for their own children as lacking ambition?

Why do we imagine a woman who sacrifices for others by serving as a first responder or a soldier is more heroic than a woman who sacrifices so the man she loves or her children can pursue a dream? Why is she somehow less valued than political staffers who subjugate their own ambitions to help their candidate achieve his or hers?

What is the disconnect when a society sees the greatness of a coach, a trainer, or a manager standing in the wings while their protégé takes center stage but we denigrate a woman who has found her calling doing the same thing for her family?

If a young woman pursues work as a private tutor on an island for a wealthy family we say she’s clever to have landed such a job but a woman who homeschools her children is a throwback? If a woman loves to cook and becomes a governor’s personal chef, we want to see her interviewed on TV but if she chooses to prepare gourmet meals for her own family and friends instead, we wonder why she’s hiding her skills at home.

Women called to be caregivers as careers are appreciated with endless gratitude by the families they serve but women called to be caregivers for their children, parents, or in-laws out of love and honor are dismissed?

I have been both a woman who works outside the home and a stay-at-home homeschooling mom (17 years). I had the same mind, same dreams, same ambitions through each season – both as a wife/mother and as an author of three books. I believe every woman (and man) must follow the calling they’ve been given by God and the rest of us should respect and honor their choices.

There are women now, however, called to love and serve their families by being stay-at-home parents or spouses who see their choice consistently portrayed in the media as a punchline or a lesser calling – something to be disdained, something intelligent women escape. This is to all our shame if we let it continue without speaking up.

Recently, a little girl proudly showed me her “new math.” On her paper she wrote 6 X 3 = ? or 3 X 6 = ? She then penned a simple word problem to illustrate the equation. Next, she fashioned a diagram. Then she drew an array. All of this was executed beautifully and I told her so. At last, I asked her, what was the answer to the equation? She examined her work and proudly wrote the number 20 beside the question marks.

When I told her that wasn’t the correct answer she informed me that it was because she’d explained her work, written the problem several ways, and done her array. When I insisted it was not the correct answer she responded, “Oh, my teacher told me a lot of adults wouldn’t understand the new math.”

I’m one of those adults. I don’t understand the new math where every choice women make is respected unless they choose to pursue their dream of enjoying a traditional role. That, loved ones, doesn’t add up, and we’ll all suffer if we don’t get that equation right.

Me? I choose to be unafraid of snickerdoodles. I am as capable of discussing a cookie recipe as I am of cookiesexpounding on politics or theology. My mind is that strong and so are the minds of millions of other women.

Value every women you know but this weekend, take a look around. If there’s a women in your world who has chosen to work in her home as a wife or mother, take her a snickerdoodle. Tell her this is your way of saying, “I see what you do and I value it. I respect your choice and love what you contribute to the world.”

Let’s commit to raising a generation of women who fear nothing – not even baking a cookie.


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    The Conversation

  1. I feel like you just handed me a Snickerdoodle, Lori. My retired firefighter husband worked two jobs so I could be at home with our two daughters. Have I been reeaaallly good it? Not by a long shot. But it’s been my joy, and I’m thankful to have fulfilled a lifelong dream. Thanks for another great encouragement and challenge. God bless.

  2. You’ve beautifully articulated one of my own personal soapboxs. I love your post. Please pass the Snickerdoodles.