In case you missed it last night, Hilary Rosen criticized Ann Romney by saying quite publicly that Romney “hadn’t worked a day in her life.” And then Twitter erupted. Rosen stepped on a landmine and not just in regard to the current political climate. I am not even going to begin to tackle the political controversies within this statement, but what I can’t help but address is one of the age-old wars that it ignited among moms everywhere.
As if the mompetition that exists among us isn’t bad enough, we are also engaged in a mommy war called “Whose Job is More Difficult?” It’s the stay at home moms versus the working moms and both sides are sure their job is the hardest. Both feel misunderstand by each side. And both are going ballistic in a side ring since this comment was made.
I’m one of those individuals who can’t clearly identify on either side. I’ve got one foot in each camp. I’m a working stay at home mom. I work from home and I stay at home with Gus. I should also let you know that I don’t have a nanny or any help of sorts. Nobody watches my kid for me while I work or cleans my house because I don’t have time. Many people mistakenly assume that those of us staying at home while we work also have help. Not so with me.
My job consists of juggling my motherhood duties with my teaching and writing duties. It means that I’m sneaking in to check emails whenever I get a spare minute and putting my phone on mute for conference calls when my kiddo is screaming. It means that when I put Gus down for his bedtime, the second half of my day begins. I put a pot of coffee on at eight o’clock and get busy in my office in the living room. If I get to bed my midnight, it’s considered early.
Is it rough? Yes. Is it tiring? Yes. But it’s my choice.
I’ll be honest. There are days I wish I could make a different choice. There are days I’m envious of the working mothers because I miss my old career and frankly, sometimes going to work seems like taking a break. Then there are the days when I’m envious of the stay at home mothers because they are just working one job. And believe me, for the record, staying at home with your children is very much a job. But it would be awfully nice to just have one job.
Here’s where I think we need to change our thinking a bit in regard to this debate. It’s a classist problem. What I mean by this is that it assumes that all women have the option to choose to either stay at home with their children or go to work. The only women whom this choice clearly exists for are those women in a high enough financial bracket where they have the luxury of being a one income family. For many of us, being a one income family isn’t remotely feasible. It would result in hungry children and the electricity getting turned off. In addition, it assumes that all women have partners. What about the single women? What about those women who are solely responsible for raising their kids? If they stayed at home to be with their kids, this would result in the use of welfare. Then we’d be attacking them for being on welfare.
I’ve got an idea. What if we stopped arguing about whose job was the most difficult and started focusing on what we could do to make everyone’s job easier?