April 14, 2012
In Defense of Stay-at-Home MomsBy Sally Zelikovsky
That's it. I've had it. I'm coming out swinging for the so-called (and sorely misnamed) "stay-at-home" moms, of whom I am one.
Every woman on this planet should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ann Romney for the attack on her for having never worked a day in her life. It is an assault against all working moms and stay-at-home moms -- their lives may be very different, but they all work.
Let me say it loud and clear: I'm not altogether convinced that people are any more happy and satisfied today in their marriages and work situations than they were in the '50s. In fact, I'd bet good money that life was a lot less stressed, hectic, and contorted than it is today, where intact families with a mother and father are fast becoming the exception, not the norm. I daresay people were probably less depressed and more satisfied with their lives than they are in our enlightened culture, where blended families rule the day and teenagers don't feel normal unless they have a variety of parental figures and step- and half-siblings in their lives. It should tell us something when there aren't enough counselors, therapists, and shrinks to accommodate the demand and fill the prescriptions for anti-depressants.
I have two law degrees and gave up my career -- somewhat willingly and somewhat unwillingly at first -- with the birth of my daughter.
I went back to school for an LL.M. (a Masters of Law degree) during her first two years, and then employment opportunities for my husband took us around the globe. By the time we were stateside, we had another child and a third when we moved out west. By this time, I was a full-fledged domestic engineer.
My mother was a full-time mother and went back to work as a teacher when my two older brothers were in college, I was in high school, and my younger brother was in grade school. We really needed the money. But for that, she would have "stayed home." It was moms like her that created daughters like me who were over-achievers and sought to do everything my brothers did. The women's movement paved the way -- giving me choices to stay at home or work, both supposedly earning the respect of society.
When Meg Whitman was running for office, I attended an event where she said that her mom was a stay-at-home mom but was adventurous. This struck me as odd. It was as if raising her children full-time made her mom less of a person, but the fact that she was adventurous somehow rehabilitated her. I contacted the campaign and told them that this was not going to win the soccer mom vote at all. What should she have said instead? "My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and it is because of this that I became the successful woman that I am. She instilled in me the confidence and poise to get ahead even in a man's world. I would not be where I am today if it hadn't been for the love and care provided by my mother."
I'm tired of women saying, "I couldn't afford to stay home." That might be the case. It was at one point for my parents and is turning out to be the case for me. We need that second income. With one in college, another on the way, and a third in private school, the writing is on the proverbial wall.
But I did choose to "stay at home" (I hate that phrase) even though we couldn't afford it, sacrificing financial comfort and, at times, family harmony. Our biggest arguments have been over money -- not that I spend too much, but that second income would have been a real boost during the many job transitions, private school tuitions, real estate taxes, and the stalled economy of the last four years.
Just because someone isn't a career woman doesn't mean she doesn't work. Stay-at-home moms are busy, and they work 24/7. There are no business trips, no financial rewards or incentives to do better. There is no bonus at the end of the year, and almost no one ever takes you to lunch, pats you on the back, and says thank you -- although I cannot tell you the number of times teachers have pulled me aside and told me not to go back to work if I can help it because my kids were great and well-adjusted, and the teachers couldn't say the same for my kids' classmates.
Look, there is no guarantee if you give up your career, or work and balance family and job, that your kids will turn out one way or the other. I know working women who try to make the change to stay-at-home because they know it is best, but the mundane, daily stresses and constant demands and drudgery can be too much for some, and they go back to work! Sometimes, the family even wants them to go back to work.
Is Ann Romney less of a woman because she didn't have a paying job, if that's even true? Is she less of a contributor to society because she chose to devote her time to raising her children? I would argue that, if anything, the fact that she raised five children and devoted her life to providing them with a safe, secure, balanced family life is a tribute to her. She has contributed greatly to society by creating self-sufficient, independent children who are self-reliant and, hopefully, good and decent folk.
It was bad enough when HIllary Clinton made her derogatory "stay at home and bake cookies" remark, as if women who put off their careers for their families are just playing Suzy Homemaker.
What happened to all that tolerance liberals are supposedly imbued with? Is it really productive to judge others about the choices they make for their families? Is it really the case that a person cannot empathize with anyone else whose life situation is different from theirs? How absurd.
I don't have a husband who beats me, but I can sure imagine the pain and fear. I don't worry where my next meal is coming from, but I can sure imagine how it would be to go to bed hungry. Do you have to experience the Holocaust or Rwanda to empathize? G-d gave us great capacity to understand the situations of others. It's a human attribute.
But to use Ann Romney's choice of motherhood over career as a political weapon is about as low as you can go and an affront to all women and their families. The left is simply trying to make the entire conservative party look like a bunch of prudish, frigid schoolmarms controlled by wicked, abusive men who dominate in the bedroom and office.
Well, this is one lady who isn't going to let them get away with it.
To me, the women's movement was always about choice, and when I speak with women who were part of it, they always stress that. Women would be in charge of their own destinies. These decisions would be made not by existing social mores, men, society, or even religion. Whether they chose to work or raise a family or balance both were decisions that society as a whole was supposed to honor and respect.
And now, like everything else the left does, they are destroying those choices. It seems that the only choices worth embracing are those that feed into the left's Kumbaya vision of society.
Raising a family, bad. Keeping your children, bad. Staying in your marriage, bad. Working, good. Aborting your children, good. Divorce, good. Anything to destroy the family unit, good. Anything to build up the image of broken families, good.
I know plenty of women who can't afford to stay home, but they do anyway. They homeschool their kids, volunteer at their schools and activities, cook dinner (yeah, that's a big deal today), and are there for their kids when they come home at the end of the day. They often give up nice vacations or the fancier car. They shop at Walmart instead of Saks and cook in more/dine out less. They often pay the bills, mow the lawn, and balance the checkbooks. Sounds like our runaway government could learn a thing or two from the stay-at-home moms I know.
Now some do have it all...and so what? Do we really devalue the little time we have with our children that much? There is a small window of time in which we can influence them, and if you can do it without financial hardship, good for you.
Ann Romney made a wise, informed choice and, by all accounts, seems to have done a damn good job of it.
As far as I'm concerned, the left can take their jobs (oh wait, they lost them all) and shove 'em.
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