Inherently Different

somewhere in between

While doing research for an article on career tracks for women, I came across this article about stay-at-home moms. The article was feminist in slant, but definitely not disregarding the role of women who choose to stay-at-home to help overpopulate the Earth. Yet, many stay-at-home moms went nuts over the article because they felt belittled, marginalized, and discounted. A follow up article by the same author gave some more insight into the hullaballoo.

Now, having grown up without a mother (literally and figuratively) I can say the whole debate as to whether or not women should stay at home is rather asinine. A mother who chooses to stay at home will not raise better children than a mother who chooses to work. If you’re a piss poor parent, you raise piss poor kids no matter how much time you spend at home. This is a fact that cannot be argued.

When I think of tough jobs for women, stay-at-home mommy is not at the top of the list, but it isn’t at the bottom either. The dangers a stay-at-home mommy must deal with are social withdrawl, low self-opinion, and mild annoyance when her children misbehave. The dangers to a working mom are inherently different and definitely more troubling than having a headache because Little Johnny won’t eat his lunch. A working woman has it much harder than a woman who stays at home. A working woman who is also a mother has it doubly hard. A stay-at-home mother who believes she is working just as hard as a woman who battles on the frontlines of gender equality every day is delusional at best. It isn’t. I know this because I work from home and see the daily lives of the stay-at-home mommies in my neighborhood. Harder life? No. Different? Yes.

I find it rather amusing when I am faced with a stay-at-home mom who tries to convince me that her job is every bit as tough as any job held by a woman in the work force. Wrong. I doubt a stay-at-home mommy can compete with a female police officer, lawyer, office manager, scientist, or teacher in terms of stress and responsibility, yet some stay-at-home mommies have no problem comparing their "jobs" to that of other "working" women. I call bullshit.

Aside from the fact that having children isn’t that difficult (excluding the physical act of squeezing them out of an orafice typically the size of an orange). Any moron can get pregnant and carry the fetus to term. This requires very little effort on the part of the woman. I know, I know… I’ll catch shit for that belief, but humor me for a little while longer. The bottom line, after giving birth, rearing children isn’t any more difficult than training a puppy to behave. Yeah, i said it… raising kids is as easy/hard as training a puppy. In fact, most parents would be better off reading a book on how to house train a dog than reading any books published in the last 20 years in regards to raising children. You’ll learn the basics rather quickly rather than being mired in inconsequential details about which brand of baby powder will prevent chaffing.

I guess my point is that I’m not sure what the hubub was about to begin with. A woman, a feminist, writes an article about how women who choose to stay-at-home are doing themselves a disservice and suddenly stay-at-home moms everywhere stage a revolt. The fact that they are doing themselves a disservice is true on many levels. An educated woman who chooses to stay home to raise her brood isn’t doing her children or herself any favors. She will find it increasingly difficult to find a job the longer she stays out of the employment stream, which in turn means that unless she is married to a doctor with a thriving practice (or a husband with some other high paying career), her children will know what it is to live hand-to-mouth. Single non-professional income familes tend to live at or below poverty line. A woman who chooses to work contributes not only to the standard of living of her family, but remains relevant and more likely to be able to guide her children with an eye toward the future. Leaving the workforce for prolonged periods has ramifications. This is true for stay-at-home mommies just like any other worker… And please, please, please do not say that putting, "STAY-AT-HOME MOM" on your resume will be looked upon favorably. Changing diapers and planning meals is not the same as managing a team and delivering on goals in the workforce.

I know a few stay-at-home moms read my blog and I don’t mean to offend them. I just find it odd how someone can delude themselves into believing that their choice won’t affect their prospects for future employment (if they are looking to return to it that is).

The phone lines are open… let me have it!

7 thoughts on “somewhere in between”

  1. Leaving the workforce for prolonged periods does have ramifications. Of course it does. Women who choose to stay at home with children generally believe that this a sacrifice worth making to be the hands-on, full-time caregiver for their children. I believed that once. I wasn’t worried about my career when I chose to stay home with my children. And career is something that tends to work itself out anyway. My mother stayed home for years caring for me and my siblings. When she went back to work it was as a recess-duty person. But she went to school, earned a degree and now has a very good job with a great income. She stayed at home with her kids and has her career. Once upon a time I thought being a stay at home mom was the only good choice and that doing anything else was a mistake. I don’t believe that anymore. I almost wrote a post about this a couple weeks ago but got sidetracked. In the follow-up article written by this Hirshman lady she says, “. . .women who quit their jobs to stay home with their children are making a mistake. . . the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing are not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. They do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings.”
    All of that is very true. Today I think it is a mistake to quit your job to become a stay-at-home mother, not because it might effect your career later on but because it is not fulfilling. It doesn’t require any significant level of intelligence or education. And also because what I do every day is not honored and it is not valued and it isn’t appreciated. Not because it shouldn’t be, but because it just isn’t. It seems everyone in the world besides Oprah and other SAHMs think that the biggest headache we have in a day is that little Johnny won’t eat his lunch and that parenting is as easy as training a puppy. When you become a SAHM you disappear. I belong to a club for stay-at-home mothers. I don’t believe a single one of the women in that club is truly
    happy doing what we do. None of them. No one is happy partly because no one, besides Oprah, gives a flying fuck what we did all day. . .they just assume it had something to do with planning meals and changing diapers. And you know maybe it isn’t a whole lot more than that. But, at least for me, these are tasks that never end. Twenty-four hours a day I plan meals and change diapers. Maybe not mentally challenging tasks, but they are mentally draining. I don’t think being a SAHM is the hardest job in the world, though. I’ve never believed that. But it is hard. Being a stay-at-home mother is difficult because it is undervalued not because it isn’t valuable. I chose to be a stay-at-home mother because I truly believed it was the best thing for my children. And I still think having a mother at home to care for children is very good for them especially when they are young. It is probably how nature intended it. But I don’t think it’ll make or break their lives. Being in a happy and positive environment where they feel loved and cared for is more important. In today’s world staying at home only leads to unhappiness for the mother. And I would say I’m only speaking for myself, but I’m not because I know a lot of other SAHM’s and I don’t know many that are truly happy with their “job”. Anyway – I don’t see why people went nuts over the article. I thought it made some very good points. But it is probably because all those SAHMs deep down know that there is some truth to what she wrote and it makes them doubt all the choices they’ve made. The sort of guidance Hirshman talks about for young women who want to marry, have children and work is the sort of guidance I want my daughter to have.

  2. coming from someone with no kids…..this will only mean so much….

    However, I don’t think you can write an article on stay at home moms without first investigating the cost of daycare. You mention teachers leaving the workforce. A well paid teacher makes about 30k a year, and that’s with a masters degree. Many day care places here charge $1400 a month and that’s for one child. I think a lot of times the choice to stay a home is a financial deciscion more so than an emotional one.

  3. Hiya Ed,

    I decided to go back to work after 5 months home with our daughter. I’d been laid off at 4 months, and if you think it’s hard to enter the workforce AFTER staying home for awhile, you should write an article about how rough it is when you are “showing”.
    I had to laugh a little. We are clicker training the beanie to stay away from daddy’s record collection. I also work full time. He is staying home, because we figured he can go back to biotech at any time. So we are living semi-poor right now (thanks to major school debt from my master’s degree) and I run a big international internship program. He’s doing 3/6 diaper changes a day, and he vacuums (sp?) and tidies while I still plan meals and shop for food and whatnot.

    And if I had my druthers? I’d win the lottery and we could BOTH stay home and loll about and I’d hire a housekeeper to do all that vaccuuming (sp?)

    Oh yeah, and I’m a feminist.

  4. My mom stayed at home with me, and quite frankly, I think it made her batty.

    Work, don’t work, just don’t let other people make up your mind for you.

  5. I’ve pondered this difficulty of raising my kids and then rejoining the workforce. My solution? When I stay home to raise my kids, I plan on getting a PhD so once I rejoin the workforce, I have an explanation for the gap. No, it’s not perfect, but it would allow me the best of both worlds: being with my kids while they are young, yet resuming a career once I’m no longer needed by my kids.

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