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For me, feminism means the freedom to be a stay-at-home mom

Actually, to suggest women “should” do anything other than what they feel is right for their families is anti-feminist.

For me, feminism means the freedom to be a stay-at-home mom

My daughter was born in mid-June and my life has been filled with an indescribable joy since she came along.


After many discussions and a lot of planning with my husband, I began to carve out my identity as a homemaker a few months ago: I left a job I held for six years both because my position was being eliminated from my department and because it seemed like a good time to transition into motherhood.

My husband owns a small business and has been growing his company, which is based out of our home. This makes for a wonderful, family-centered lifestyle, which we love.

Interestingly, I have felt pressure from a few people I know regarding my choice to be a homemaker and to raise my baby without daily childcare in her early years.

They have subtly suggested that I’m selling myself short by not prioritizing my career, and that I’m naively letting my husband pursue his career dreams while putting mine on hold.

I dislike these comments because I have chosen—with great self-awareness and robust, loving support from my husband—to prioritize raising our daughter, cooking meals for my family, gardening outside, caring for our pets and cleaning our house. Writing and teaching yoga part-time are passions of mine, which I plan to continue weaving into my schedule.

I absolutely love doing these things because I feel like I’m building our home and nurturing my family. This feeling is so satisfying to me.

I think that is the key:  I feel deep satisfaction in my choice to “make home” full time . If another woman feels deep satisfaction going to work every day that is equally valuable and worthwhile. But, in our quest for a just and equal world where women and men have equal opportunities, it doesn’t seem right that some people chastise women who choose home life over the office.

In fact, to suggest that women “should” do anything other than what they feel is right for them and their families is anti-feminist, in my opinion. My definition of feminism is a woman doing for herself what brings her joy, and makes her feel confident and respected as an individual.

To be fair, there are plenty of women in my life who are happy for me and encouraging my choices. But I feel like the culture of ambition and cut-throat career success that so many of us millennials have been raised to espouse — and which I, too, pursued and enjoyed for many years — is portrayed as the only path to happiness.

Some women with an academic profile similar to mine — an Ivy League education and a prestigious career — are putting down my choice to be a homemaker and suggesting that if you’re a strong woman than you must go back to work and not change or let go of climbing the career ladder.

But I don’t believe in living my life like a ladder. Life means more to me than simply having name recognition or fame or widespread success. In fact, I’m OK without having any of those things.

This realization has become even more evident to me as I get older and move farther away from the competitive what-college-are-you-going-to-and-what-did-you-get-on-your-SAT? mindset.

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I feel more grounded and satisfied doing things that go unrecognized yet feel incredibly rewarding — such as community service, teaching, caring for people in nursing homes and nurturing my family.

At a time in history when digital technology seems to revolve around the infamous “selfie” and constantly putting ourselves on display, I’m happy to find deep contentment in ordinary, everyday living that is often anonymous.

Let me give you a glimpse into what I mean:

Now that my daughter has been born, I feel contentment in quiet moments together with her that I know will fade over several lifetimes and which will not be written into history books… Precious moments between us that do not require — and in fact would be hindered by — an audience.

In such intimacy, love is the only truth and therefore becomes the overwhelming reality.

Nothing else matters.

My body swells with love, electricity and milk when I pick my daughter up from her nap. She’s ready to feed, her dark blue eyes blinking open and focusing on mine like large blueberries in a full moon. Her chubby cheeks swell and her mouth opens in a big, happy, gummy smile.

Then her lips draw into tight little button shape that I call her owl face and she poops in her diaper.

“Whoooo, Whoooo,” I coo to her.

I kiss the top of her head, and feel her soft black hair with my cheek.

I brush my nose lightly against her powdery-sweet forehead and kiss her temples.

I savor the way it feels when she rests—completely trusting me—on my heart and turns her head so that one sleeping cheek rests against my sternum.

My belly is soft, receiving her presence, receiving her trust and shining my love back into her. Our hearts beat gently together.

For every woman — for every person — making a home, caring for a family and building a career are unique experiences.

I know that often, it is not always financially possible for one partner to stay at home.

I support all women, men, families and caregivers making choices that suit their circumstances. But I think it’s important that women know — and are even willing to fight and make sacrifices for — the choice to raise a family in place of a making a name for oneself. We had to make adjustments to our budget and lifestyle so that I could be at home.

I know that for me, being at home right now is what feels right. I am happy, my husband is happy, and our daughter is growing healthy and strong.

That’s my kind of feminism.

In This Article

    Ara Katz/Seed

    We spoke to Ara Katz, co-founder and co-CEO of Seed, who shared her journey to (and through) motherhood—and gave us the lowdown on how probiotics can benefit mamas and children alike.

    Chances are, you're aware that probiotics can help us digest the food we eat, keep inflammation at bay, synthesize essential vitamins and more. But here's the thing: When it comes to probiotics, there's a lot of misinformation… and because of that, it's hard to know what's actually a probiotic and which is the right one for you.

    That's why we chatted with Ara Katz, who is a mama to son Pax and the co-founder of Seed, a company disrupting the probiotics industry. The entrepreneur told us about her motherhood journey, what led her to start her company and what she wants other parents to know about probiotics.

    Q. What was life like for you before you became a mama?

    I was bi-coastal after co-founding a mobile tech company in New York City with a partner in LA. My life was, for as long as I can remember, consumed by creating and work. I was fairly nomadic, loved to travel, spent many hours reading and practicing yoga, being with friends [and] waking up at the crack of dawn. [I] was fairly sure I would never marry or have children. And then something shifted.

    Q. What were some pivotal moments that defined your journey to motherhood?

    Ha, that makes it sound like motherhood is a destination when at this very moment, more than ever, it evolves daily. I lost my mom when I was 17 and spent most of my life believing I didn't want to be a mother. I had a lot of wiring about its limitations and constraints—I'm sure relics of grief and the fear of loss.

    My journey started with a physiological wanting to be pregnant and have a baby. There was a kind of visceral sense that my body wanted to know what that was like and a strange curiosity that, at least for that period of time, usurped my ambivalence about motherhood.

    Then I had a miscarriage—a beautiful inflection point in my story. I resigned from my company, chose a coast, committed to be more committed to my (then) boyfriend, now husband, and tried again. I got pregnant shortly after that and found pregnancy to be a profound journey within, a reshaping of my life and the tiniest glimpse of how motherhood would unfold.

    In the 55 months since giving birth (and I like to use months because I have learned in the moments that I am most frustrated as a mom that he has only been on this planet for less than 14 fiscal quarters), I have realized and surrendered to a definition of motherhood that is a process. One of cultivating, creating, recreating, shapeshifting, learning, feeling, healing, hurting and experiencing the most potent form of presence I have ever experienced—and an aching, expansive love I didn't know possible—not just for my son, but for all living things.

    Q. How did motherhood change your approach to your career?

    Becoming a mother is certainly a persistent lens on all of my choices, but it was really my miscarriage that recalibrated my path. My pregnancy rekindled my love of biology and health and led me to my co-founder and the microbiome. My breastfeeding experience incepted our first product focus, and the newfound accountability for a human inspired our brand.

    Q. What inspired you to co-found Seed?

    I met my co-founder, Raja, during my pregnancy with Pax. [I] was immediately awestruck by his ability to both deeply understand science and to methodically break down a product, dietary question or piece of advice in a way that's educational (you actually learn something about your body), actionable (you understand what to do with the information) and foundational (you can build on that knowledge in the future to continue to make better choices).

    As we spent more time, our combined passion for microbes, their potential impact on both human health and the environment, and how to set up a child for a healthy life became increasingly clear. And through birth, seeding (the process by which we get our foundational microbes and the inspiration for the name of our company) Pax and my struggles with breastfeeding, my entrepreneurial spirit was lit to build something with Raja. His deep experience in translating science to product, and mine in consumer, community-building and translating through storytelling, culminated in a shared vision to set a new standard in health through bacteria.

    Q. Probiotics have been trending in recent years, but they're nothing new—can you talk a bit about the importance of probiotics?

    Interest in gut health and probiotics increases month by month. However, despite the quickly growing number of "probiotic" supplements, foods and beverages out there, there's still a lot of consumer confusion—particularly around what they are, how they work and why we should take them. Probiotics have been studied extensively across various life stages, body sites and for many benefits. Digestion is an obvious and immediate one (and the primary reason most people currently take probiotics). But other strains have also been studied for skin health, heart health and gut health (including gut immune function and gut barrier integrity). But this doesn't mean that any and all probiotics can do these things—this is the importance of 'strain specificity.' In other words, ensuring that the specific strains in your probiotic have been studied for the benefit you desire is critical.

    Seed Daily Synbiotic

    Seed

    Seed's Daily Synbiotic is a 24-strain probiotic + prebiotic formulated for whole-body benefits, including gut, skin and heart health.


    Q. How do probiotics play a role in your life?

    I mean, I take them, I develop them and I work with some of the leading scientists from around the world advancing the field—so they play a big role. As for my personal health, I take our Daily Synbiotic daily and my son also takes specific strains for gastrointestinal health and gut immune function. Beyond that, it's the re-orientation around my microbiome that guides many of my choices: how important fiber is, specific compounds like polyphenols found in berries, green tea and other foods, avoiding the use of NSAIDS like ibuprofen and antibiotics when not needed, exercise, sleep and time in nature [are] all aspects of our daily life that impact our microbiome and our health.

    Q. What are some misconceptions about probiotics that you would like to set straight?

    There's one main myth on from which all the other stem: that probiotics aren't considered a serious science. On the contrary, it's a field of inquiry that demands incredible rigor and extensive research. And when anything and everything from chocolate to ice cream to fermented food and kombucha to mattresses can call itself "probiotic" due to underregulation in the category, that grossly undermines the science and their potential.

    The term 'probiotic' has a globally-accepted scientific definition that was actually co-authored by our Chief Scientist, Dr. Gregor Reid ,for the United Nations/World Health Organization.

    At Seed, we work to reclaim the term for science, through the development of next-generation probiotics that include clinically validated strains and undergo the most rigorous safety, purity and efficacy testing procedures. Because why would you invite billions of unknown microbes into your body without asking "what's in here, is it the correct dosage that was studied, and has that strain in that amount been studied in human clinical trials to do something beneficial for my body"?

    Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what product you plan to launch next?

    We are developing a pipeline of consumer probiotics to target specific ecosystems of the body and life stages, including a synbiotic for children. Our next product will reflect a unique breakthrough in the field of pediatric probiotics, which we are excited to announce soon.

    This article was sponsored by Seed. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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