Romney and stay-at-home moms

You didn’t think I was going to just ignore Hilary Rosen’s comments about stay-at-home moms, did you? What kind of self-respecting mommy blogger would I be if I didn’t throw in my two cents worth of outrage?

Ok, truth be told I tried to think of a way that I didn’t have to write about this topic because the last thing it needs is more attention. And like almost everything in today’s over-politicized atmosphere, motherhood is becoming a sound bite for campaigns instead of a real conversation.

Motherhood shouldn’t be campaign fodder.

But, I have to chime in here with my view on Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen’s comments on CNN last week. To recap, Rosen said Mitt Romney’s wife “has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing.”

And then the mommy blogosphere exploded. Rightly so.

Rosen’s comments are outrageous. Ann Romney raised five children as a stay-at-home mother. Motherhood is work — all-consuming, high stakes and endless.

Rosen has apologized for her choice of words. But that’s the problem: They weren’t just words. They indicate a much bigger problem about how society values and views motherhood — especially stay-at-home moms.

Most politicians are savvy enough not to say so on air, but many people still think stay-at-home motherhood is second place. It’s for moms who couldn’t hack it in careers. It’s for moms who can’t juggle a job and a family.

Sure, everyone this week is talking about how much we value moms (the Republicans are having a field day with this particular Democratic misstep), but where’s the proof? Where is the solid evidence that society really does place a value on stay-at-home moms — a value that recognizes staying home to raise your children is a brave, selfless and conscious choice? Does society in any way encourage mothers to make the choice to leave work to be a mother?

I don’t know how to change such a deep-rooted attitude. But until we actually put some action behind our words, we can’t truly value the sacrifice of a mother who puts her life aside to raise the next generation.

Until then, people like Rosen will continue to accidentally belittle the efforts of stay-at-home moms because deep down, it’s how they really feel. And no amount of campaign hoopla can cover that up.

What was your reaction to Rosen’s comments? Does being a stay-at-home mom classify as “not working a day” in your life?

11 comments

  1. Cat

    Not to defend Ms Rosen but what I think she ment to say was that Ann Romney, because of her husband’s wealth and connections, doesn’t know how the majority of women deal with economic issues. Saying that a person (mom or dad) who stays home to raise children doesn’t know how to work probablly hasn’t raised any children of their own. Working is the easy part of my day. It’s much less stressful (even on the most stressful of days) than dealing with the 6 children I have at home. The biggest stress is that I’m not at home to deal with my kids and their issues and that I can’t do for them what I want to do because there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. But like most women (working out side the home or not) I do my best.

    • Day80

      Whatever she meant by it – it was wrong to even bring that up. Its not like we don’t take criticism almost every day anyway. I’m sure you’re right, but when you attack a stay at home mom, you attack “the family”. Whatever money she had to work with, she still had to budget things out, teach the kids about money, responsibilities and getting a job. Which she obviously did because the family – from what we have seen – seems pretty well grounded. In general (as many who attack stay at home moms do) she is saying that SAHMs have no idea what its like to work for very little pay and to budget on a small income. Apparently she thinks men do it all. We just sit at home. I should mention that while I stay home during the day, I also watch 3 additional kids and work early mornings at a grocery store in order to be home before my boys wake up to start the day. All because we can barely afford a content life on my husband’s “middle class” wage.

      • Cat

        I wasn’t trying to defend Ms Rosen. She was wrong to even say anything about moms in general. But you have to admit that Ann Romney never had to say, “I’m sorry we can’t afford the swimming lessons that you want or the dance lessons or the after school class” to her children. I’m sure she never debated about wether or not her child was sick enough to justify the $35 copay to go to the after hours clinic. I’m sure that she never had to analyize her budget and try and figure out where the $300/month medication to keep her family member alive was going to come from. That’s all that I meant. Yes, she’s done a great job of raising 5 boys who are now productive members of society and don’t seem to have scandal attached to them at all. However, I don’t see how she could ever really understand how the majority of us deal with everyday life, job outside the home or SAHM. But I don’t see how most of the spouses could understand it either. Most of them have lived priveledged lives too. This is reflected in Ms Rosen’s statement that started this whole thing.

  2. Noel

    I thought about those comments Saturday as I taught my son LA and Art lessons, vacuumed the entire house, did three loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, rallied my little troopers to clean up the toys that were everywhere, kissed owies, mediated arguments, taught my children to love and serve each other– the list goes on. A stay-at-home mom doesn’t get potty breaks. She is on call 24/7. I worked before I became a mother, and working was way easier, and far less rewarding. What I do now will stand as a monument to my life that I can build no other way. And yet, all my husband’s women coworkers ask, “What does she do all day? Isn’t she bored?” Society definitely undervalues the work of a mother.

  3. Momof7

    I wasn’t bothered by the comment about not working a day in her life. I assumed she meant having a job outside of the home. What bothers me is the assumption that because we are stay at home mothers, we can’t possibly understand economic issues. It was demeaning to my intelligence. Does staying home and working with the budget that isn’t as big as it would be if I worked, make me less understanding of the lousy economy we have? Not all stay at home mothers have a rich husband. Sometimes choosing to stay home means giving up a lot.

  4. Gayle A. Miller

    Oh, how I agree with the former 4 responders! My dear school-teacher husband also worked extra jobs so I could stay home and do all the varied and previously mentioned jobs of a mother of four! I will always be grateful for MY opportunity to quit teaching school to raise and be with my children. Our bonded relationships and their good lives are eternal thanks to me.

  5. CLARE

    I believe what Hillary said regarding Ann Romney’s version of a stay at home mom is accurate. With all her wealth she has she can not possibly put herself in the same ranks as an average stay at home mom in the 21st century must do. What does/did she foresake for her children? Look at the many homes the Romney’s own. Does she clean those estate/homes? Can’t her husband afford hired help? Does/did she drive her kids to school? Has she cooked, cleaned, drive her kids to school, looked for bargains in anything from pampers-food on the table-christmas presents or even what it takes in time to do all of that. I don’t think she has ever had to multi-task even a third as much as any average stay at home mom of 5 kids must do.
    l’d like to know what she has had to do in her multi-millionaire life to compare to the daily life of an average hard-working stay at home mom. I’d like to know the tantrums, colds/flu a stay at home mom of 5 does. I think she is surely as out of touch to the needs of a stay at home mom as her husband is to an average working father.

  6. Mississippian

    I agree with everything here. To a point. Anne Romney never had to say “no” to her kids. Did she though? Who knows. I’m sure she stayed with her children when they were sick, kissed their owies and helped with homework. No one can say she does differently because no one knows. I think what Day80 was trying to say is that when someone attacks a fellow member of the “club” it will naturally bring in defenders. Moms who choose to stay home always seem to be on the losing end of society. Most people think we sit at home watching soap operas and eating skittles or whatever. An attack on Stay at home moms whether rich or poor, is an attack on stay at home moms. Period. The women that make the comments on TV about stay at home moms don’t have a clue either, but they are looking for ammunition and they are using the wrong tactics. I heard someone say that when you attack the moms/wives/women of America, you might as well quit the fight. We always hear that behind every good man is a great woman, and its true, because we (working or not) are the ones that keep everything flowing. So, to hopefully bring all of this together 🙂 No – she never had to deny her family or worry about whether or not she had the money to go on that late night run for children’s tylenol, but I still think it was meant just as it was said on TV. Anne Romney has never worked. Everything else has been people trying to cover their butts because they know that is a war you should never start.

  7. Tom

    How many people do you think she had helping raise those kids, a cook, a maid, a nanny we know they had a gardener a illegal on and how many more. she hasn’t earned a pay check in her entire life.

  8. citygrrl

    I understand why SAHM feel put down by Rosen’s comments, but as a working woman (work defined as I leave the house every day, get a regular paycheck for what I do, have a boss, etc.) I feel I have to defend my fellow working women. I am away from home over 11 hours a day. I have no idea what my living room or my street looks like in the middle of the day, Monday through Thursday. As far as household chores go, I need to get done in 2 days what SAHM have 6 days to do (let’s assume we all take 1 day off). I don’t get a lunch hour, and I can’t take time out of the work day to run errands, so those are done in the aforementioned 2 days. And while I don’t have kids, many of my female colleagues do, and I can’t imagine the stress they’re under. I readily concur that staying home with young (pre-school) kids would be extremely stressful — harder than an outside job — but kids grow up and go to school. And yes, school-age children have many activities, but let’s be honest: is this not somewhat self-imposed, and aren’t kids just a tad bit over programmed today? I also see so many women who, once their children are in school, seem to have loads of time to go the gym, hang out at Starbucks, indulge in hobbies — you get the picture.

    We working women have our gripes too about what SAHM say to us. In the interest of a reconciliation, or at least a detente, here are a few things not to say to a working woman: 1) so do you have to wear hose, skirts and heels to your job? Why yes, we do. 2) what did you do on spring break? Working people don’t get a spring break — we’re adults, working with other adults, and we don’t get summers off, spring breaks, 2 weeks at Christmas, etc. 3) help us out in engaging you in social situations. All the time I read that SAHM resent that working adults just ask them about their kids, or look at them with condescencion, or don’t think they have much to offer. “We have dreams too!” the SAHM exclaim. But it’s hard to ask someone, “So what’s your dream?” if you’ve just met them. Open up a little bit, and maybe ask us about our jobs, or tell us what you like to do, or miss doing because of your family responsibilities. 4) when asked what you’ve been doing, don’t say, “Oh you know, soccer, tennis, school” if that’s what your kids are doing, and not you. You’ve been driving them to those activities, facilitating them, whatever, but it’s your kids who are the participants, not you. Which brings us to the issue: it’s important for everyone to have something of their own, whether they’re raising a family or working. And it’s important to find out what makes other people tick, even if their lives are different from your own.

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