Reviving the Mommy Wars
Hillary Clinton created a firestorm back in 1992 when she remarked in an interview that she guessed she could have just stayed home and baked cookies. Fast forward to 2012 and Hilary Rosen - who has visited the White House more than 35 times - attacks Ann Romney, mother of five boys, for "never work[ing] a day in her life." Just when we thought the left couldn't get more insensitive and condescending toward conservative women and derisive of the concept of motherhood, the Democrats' narrative about a supposed GOP "war on women" gets exposed to reveal the long-standing, patronizing, and extremely abusive feminist "war on conservative women."
All it takes is a quick look at all the magazine features about "women of the year" or "outstanding women" to discover that the media elites and leftist women in politics and punditry have zero knowledge of the accomplishments of conservative women; nor do they understand or appreciate the contributions to society and the future of the nation by those women who "choose" to nurture and raise their own children.
Rosen's put-down of Ann Romney also reveals an appalling lack of understanding about the work involved in raising your own children. I am a career woman who chose to stay home with my children when they were young; those years flew by and were just a blip that hardly registered on my career path. But, for me and for my children, those were incredibly productive and important years; both they and I are still reaping the benefits of that investment of my time, talents and energies. It is very short-sighted of Hilary Rosen and others of her ilk to poke fun at those of us who put our husbands and children at the top of our priorities. Anyone who looks at the fractured families that are so prevalent today will recognize that the nation and individual families are paying an exorbitant price for making family and children's well-being an afterthought in women's lives.
I also have to add that, for me, those stay-at-home years were the hardest work I have ever done. Mothering would be much easier if, during the day, someone else cleans up all the messes, fixes all the meals, does all the laundry, picks up all the toys, handles the squabbles, and is on call for nine hours straight!
But, I feel sorry for working moms; they miss out on the joy of each new discovery their children make. I didn't want someone else to have those daily moments of pleasure. I didn't want someone else's values and attitudes shaping my children's outlook and attitudes toward life. I didn't want someone else training and nurturing my children and determining their future prospects and influencing their day-to-day development.
Yes, I understand that, for some women, staying home is not an option, but many are merely sacrificing their time with their children for a nicer house or car, a luxury that would otherwise be out of reach, or a splashy vacation or other perk of modern life that seems necessary at the time.
I am fully aware of - and experienced and survived - the significant financial and career sacrifices families make to live on only one income during their children's formative years. I am even more aware of the hefty sacrifices that many of those families make when it comes to their children's well-being and the mom's emotional fulfillment. That latter consideration is certainly part of the reason for the underlying venom in leftist women's disdain for stay-at-home mothers.
Pick up any women's magazine today, and you'll find stories of exhausted women who have no interest or time for themselves, their families, for sex or for homemaking - gorgeous kitchens with the latest in refrigerators and stoves are unused as family members pick up fast food on their way to somewhere besides home. Read any newspaper, and you'll see accounts of wealthy kids who are in trouble and kids from tony neighborhoods who are runaways or throwaway teens. When my children were pre-teens, the dean of my husband's university college laughingly told us, while making conversation during a cocktail party, that his son had dropped out of high school to "find himself." Here was a man with a Ph.D. and a long list of academic accomplishments whose son dropped out of high school.
What was it both Barbara Bush and Jacqueline Kennedy said? If you fail at being a mother to your children, nothing else matters.
Janice Shaw Crouse is author of Children at Risk (2010) and Marriage Matters (2012) both published by Transaction Publishers, the publisher of record for social science research. She heads the think tank at Concerned Women for America.