By now everyone has heard about the comment made by Democratic Strategist Hilary Rosen about Ann Romney, in which she states that Mrs. Romney “has never worked a day in her life.”
Forget all of the rigamarole and argument about how Mrs. Romney had lots of money to help her while she stayed at home raising her sons, and therefore didn’t have to do the types of things that 99% of SAHMs (stay at home moms) spend much of their time doing. I am no fan of Mitt Romney, but I have to give him and his wife a lot of credit for raising five successful and hardworking sons. I don’t care how much money they have or how many housekeepers and nannies they’ve employed over the years – their sons are proof that as parents they did something right.
It is unfortunate that there is still a question about whether SAHMs actually work. To even be having this debate again is proof that there are still antagonistic feelings on both sides – working moms and SAHMs. For the women who are working to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, this is an irrelevant conversation. They have no choice in the matter, and whether or not they like their job is not a question they have the option to consider. But for many working women, their job is an important, rewarding and key part of their lives which not only gives them financial stability and, in many cases, financial freedom, but also an identity separate from their identity as a mother. This is important to many women, and they make the choice to continue to work at jobs in which they feel like they are contributing to the world and improving their lives financially. As many working women have said, this makes them better mothers.
But Ms. Rosen was wrong. SAHMs do work. During a typical week as a SAHM, I did the following: 8-10 loads of laundry, 2-4 grocery store shops, a zillion little errands, volunteered ( a lot) at the schools and in the community, drove my kids around, maintained my house, paid bills, planned events for all four members of the family, went to watch sports practices, events and other performances, cleaned, straightened, organized, put away, refilled, threw out, cooked dinners, made lunches, fixed things, ordered things, returned things, found missing things. During my time as a SAHM I helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for our schools and local charities, as both event chair and committee member. I sat on the boards of two community organizations, held officer positions in PTSA, and worked part time from home for our business. I spent countless hours talking with teachers, tutors, instructors, doctors, coaches, trainers, and other parents to try to improve my skills as a mother, and to advocate for my kids. This was all because I CHOSE to stay at home, just as many working women CHOOSE to go to work – not all, I know. But some do.
The idea that my life was luxurious is ridiculous. There were days when I had a lot of free time – but don’t most working women have days like that too? Days spent surfing the internet and chatting with co-workers? I went to lunch with my friends once or twice a week – but don’t working women do that also? Isn’t that a big part of connecting with the world – and don’t we all need connection?
Most important, and what was most difficult once my full-time job was over and my kids were in college, is that my identity, for better or worse, was always about being a mother. I earned no money and got no promotions for a job well done. But this was a CHOICE I made, and therein lies the luxury. Not the lunches, shopping trips, bi-annual massages or watching “Oprah” and eating bonbons. The luxury was the choice.