Saturday, April 14, 2012

The faux mommy wars

I'm sure you've heard of the big manufactured political brouhaha of the week that was generated when Hilary Rosen, a political pundit on CNN, in talking about Mitt Romney getting his information about women's issues from his wife, made the statement that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life. Well, when the Republicans and Fox News heard that, they wet themselves in glee. Soon the Fox Newsies were falling all over themselves decrying liberals' war against moms and tying the Obama campaign to Rosen's statement, even though she has no connection to the Obama campaign and even though an Obama spokesman immediately distanced the campaign from the statement and even though Rosen herself apologized for her choice of words. Soon, the Romney campaign was sending out fundraising emails lambasting the Obama campaign's disrespect to stay-at-home moms and asking the recipients to stand with Ann. What utter nonsense! But then this is the state to which political discourse in this country has fallen.

Completely lost in all the dust-up was the point which Rosen had been trying to make and it is a completely valid point. Ann Romney had the privilege of choosing to remain at home with her children rather than entering the workforce. Moreover, she had a household staff of servants to help her. While no one in his or her right mind would argue that raising five children - or one child, for that matter - is not hard work, the situation in which Ann Romney raised her children cannot even remotely be compared to the situation in which most mothers in America find themselves.

Most American mothers do not have the option of choosing to stay at home with their children or of having servants to help with their needs. If those children are going to be fed, clothed, housed, and educated, their mothers have to work to pay for it. Thus, most mothers of young children in America rise early in the morning, clean, dress, and feed their children and get themselves ready for work. Then they take the children to a day care center and head on to their day job where they spend the next eight or more hours. Then they return to the day care center, pick up the children, take them home, try to respond to their needs - regardless of how tired they are - for quality time with mom, make dinner for them, make sure they get their baths and maybe a story or two read and then put them to bed. A few short hours later, they start the routine all over again. Is it any wonder that mothers are perpetually tired and stressed out, never get a full night's sleep, and that their mental and physical health suffers from this killing routine?

Of course, that's only the beginning. As the kids age, there are other activities that they have to be ferried to and mom is the chauffeur and cheerleader for those activities. Well, I could go on, but it makes me tired just to think about it. Been there, done that, have two amazingly normal and well-adjusted adult children to prove it.

If a mom is lucky, she has a husband who is a willing partner in the raising of these children, but if she isn't - and a whole lot of women aren't - then it's all on her shoulders. Even if she does have a helpful partner, I would argue that the bulk of the responsibility still falls on her shoulders.

The economic reality of late 20th and early 21st century America has been that, in most families, it takes two parents in the workforce to keep the family afloat and thriving. Ann Romney never had to make that choice of going into the workforce to provide for her family. There's nothing wrong with that. Probably a majority of mothers would choose as she did, if they had a choice. They don't. But don't insult me and other working mothers who hold down stressful full-time day jobs and still manage to be full-time mothers by saying that Ann Romney knows what we've experienced and can report to her husband what our views and needs are. She doesn't have a clue and neither does he.  

5 comments:

  1. Servants or not,she was and is the CEO of her family as her husband was/is an executive and most of those types leave everything pertaining to house, home and family to the wife

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    1. I was and am the "CEO" of my family as well, while working full-time outside the home, as are (and do) so many women in this country and around the world. It's the equivalent of two full-time jobs, even if one of them is unpaid except in emotional coin. Women, both those with two or more jobs and those who only work in the home, should not be pitted against each other by cynical politicians. We do have common cause.

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    2. Correction: I should have said "Women should not allow themselves to be divided by politicians, as we all - regardless of our stations in life - have common cause." Of course, cynical politicians will always seek to divide us. It's what they do.

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  2. I was a mom and full time worker. I would have given anything to stay at home. It would have been so much easier. I don't understand who do they think comes in and does that laundry and cooks the meals while you're at work? Sorry to all the stay home moms but we did what you do and still held down full time jobs. Ann Romney probably had maids and nannies. I just can't wrap my mind around how she thinks that compares to a single mom. Living from paycheck to paycheck! And here is the kicker... She will draw social security though she never contributed. Now that is wrong!

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    1. There is much unfairness in society and you've put your finger on some of it. I think most moms, like you and as I pointed out in my post, would have preferred to stay at home with their kids. Unfortunately, most of us did not and do not have that choice and had to enter the workforce.

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