While browsing CNN the other day, (well actually it was a CNN link posted on Facebook because I would be lying if I said that I didn't get the majority of my current events from Facebook these days) I read the article regarding Hilary Rosen's comment that Ann Romney having raised 5 boys "had never worked a day in her life" and therefore could not possibly understand the economic issues that the women of this country are concerned with.
Although this isn't the first time I have heard this statement made about a stay at home mom, I saddens me to hear it come from the mouth of a woman in the political party that I choose to affiliate myself with. To basically state that because of my choice to not bring home a physical paycheck and instead devote my life to raising my children, limits mine or anyone's ability to comprehend the magnitude of the economic crisis facing women in this country is not only arrogant but completely derogatory.
Ms. Rosen, I am a college graduate, and former working mother and I can assure you that my current unpaid position of Stay at Mom is by far the most difficult and rewarding job I have held in all of my 32 years. I have been in this position for 5 years now and I am still awaiting my sick time, overtime, and vacation days. We pay for health insurance out of pocket because my husband is a small business owner, but we will save that discussion for a later date. By the way, did I also mention that I have 2 of the most demanding bosses that require that I actually raise them and turn them into people, I mean like, actual people that will one day be working, paying taxes and voting in elections. Crazy, Right?
In all honesty, for as tough of a job staying home with my children is, the fulfillment I receive trumps any paycheck that I could ever receive from a "real job" as I am sure Ms. Rosen would refer to it. This was a choice made by husband and myself in an attempt to raise our family in the best way we can. Part of being a parent at times is sacrificing for your children. Walking away from my career was a sacrifice that I was willing to make and carrying the financial burden of the entire family was a sacrifice my husband was willing to make. These choices were just that, a choice that we made together, after careful discussions, for our family. My husband does not value my opinion or contribution to our household any less now then he did when I was bringing home a paycheck just as Mr. Romney still values the opinion of his own wife. Oddly enough, I have also been allowed to keep my voter registration card and continue to vote in each election despite my obvious intellectual handicap brought on by my stay at home mom status.
I don't look down on any woman choosing to remain in the workforce when becoming a mother. I am thankful for them. I am thankful for both of my son's teachers who choose to teach my children and raise a family at the same time, I am thankful for the women that work for us at our restaurant and balance motherhood and their families needs. Just as I am sure that many of the working moms are thankful that I volunteer in their children's classrooms each month and plan all the parties and make all the phone calls to the parents and organize activities for their children. I am thankful that collectively as women we will prove to all the little girls that they also will have choices when they become mothers.
I am, however, tired of feeling as though I need to constantly defend our family's dynamic with one paycheck earning parent. I am not lazy, I do not have a Nanny, or a housekeeper. (although I seriously could use the help at times) As moms, I think it is pretty clear that we all want and need the same things.. to raise our family to the best of our ability and to be respected while doing it. I didn't accept this position because I was uneducated, unmotivated or lazy. I am just a mom choosing to raise my boys in the way that I had always envisioned, to be there for every soccer goal, every cut, every heartbreak, every school play, every dinner, every lunch...and when they look back on their childhood one day, I want them to understand that I devoted my life to raising them because it was what made me happy and fulfilled and most importantly it was what I chose as their mother.
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By Rita Arens