Brittany Burton is an occasional contributor to Publius Online. She is a stay-at-home mom who wishes homemaking involved more bon-bons and fewer dirty diapers.
Late Wednesday night, my husband mentioned the attack on Ann Romney for “never working a day in her life.” In other words, for being a “stay-at-home” mom. I was busy breast-feeding my youngest, so I didn’t think much of it at the time. I rolled my eyes and said something like, ‘Oh brother, what next?’ It was morning before I actually watched the clip of Hilary Rosen making her jab at Ann Romney.
Only then did it strike home just how personal Rosen’s attack was on me and my choice to switch careers to raise my children.
Before having children, I worked full-time in a middle-management position. It was a demanding and usually thankless job. With how many hours a week I put in, my salary felt pathetic, but considering that I didn’t have more than a bachelor’s degree, I couldn’t complain. I had my own money, I was moving up, and people looked to me for leadership and direction.
When I gave birth to my first child, I made the decision to stay home full-time. For as long as I can remember, it was what I wanted. My own mother was a stay-at-home mom, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the job entailed.
I was wrong. I had no idea just how demanding the work of a stay-at-home mom is. Since, I’ve often looked back on my life before children longingly as it relates to the amount of work and monetary compensation I received for it. Back then, I knew my value and could put a number to it. Today, it’s not so easy to put a number or see appreciation for my efforts.
Despite the challenges, I am happy with my choice to be a stay-at-home mom. I want it because I believe my children will be better off if I raise them than if they’re raised by someone else. The smiles and laughter, baby-steps (literally and figuratively), the random ‘I love you, Mama,’ the growth and happiness of my beautiful girls makes it worth the effort.
As foreign as it may seem to our increasingly progressive culture, I also want to be a stay-at-home mom because I believe it’s where God would prefer me to be during this season of my life. He knows, and I know, that I could be doing things a lot more glamorous than breast-feeding multiple times a day, changing diaper after diaper, disciplining a whining child, reading picture book after picture book (and sometimes the same one repeatedly), oxy-cleaning juice- and marker-stained clothes…
But He also knows, and I also know, that being the best full-time, stay-at-home, change-the-diapers, read-the-books, endure-the-whining, and love-the-littles mom I can be is more meaningful than any other job I could be doing right now. I believe that nothing I can do will have a greater impact on the world than teaching my girls to be the best they can be.
I don’t say all this to devalue women who work outside the home, whether it is by choice or because of need. I recognize that there’s a lot that goes into the decision to work outside the home. I’m thankful I live in a time when women have more opportunities than they have had in previous generations. However, I also acknowledge that our culture is built on what happens in the home and what starts there, and I have chosen to dedicate my life to building my home strong.
…which brings me back to Hilary Rosen and why she makes me feel like a mama bear with threatened cubs. I feel that she has not just insulted Ann Romney, but assaulted the very purpose I have given my life to: giving my kids the best life I can and all of the hard work it entails.
I have made genuine sacrifices to raise my children. When Rosen decides to mock that sacrifice, I find it extremely offensive and personally disheartening. She reflects a society that devalues my contribution.
Ironically, I feel bad for Rosen because clearly, at least as it seems to me, she’s out of touch. She’s out of touch with stay-at-home moms and out of touch with working outside-the-home moms. She’s just out of touch with moms.
My struggles may look a bit different than a mother who is not a stay-at-home mom. But in some respects, I have more empathy for the mother who must work than anyone else, and her for me. Because working out-of-the-home mom or working in-the-home mom, we all know how hard it is to be a mother. We know what it means to sacrifice and work hard for our families. We’re making different sacrifices, but sacrifices none-the-less.
I also found it offensive and disheartening when Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager said that ‘[Rosen’s] comments were wrong and that family should be off limits.’ I think Messina kind of misses the point by saying that, ‘family should be off limits.’ It makes it sound like he’s saying Rosen’s comments were wrong because family should be off-limits. How about Rosen’s comments were wrong because they were just wrong?
And yet, the irony and hypocrisy continues to the top. I watched the clip of President Obama saying that his family didn’t have the luxury of Michelle being a stay-at-home mom…when he was making over $162,000 a year. It’s one thing if Michelle didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom, but implying that they couldn’t afford it? I know lots of stay-at-home families with 2+ children that are making less than half that amount—much less than half that–and are doing just fine.
Moms make personal sacrifices that most men won’t make and can’t really understand, either. If Obama’s people think that this anti-mom message is how you empower women, that this is how you reach out to women and give them the tools they need to be successful and relevant, then they are the wrong choice to represent women in America. If they think that attacking stay-at-home moms is low hanging fruit, they have picked the wrong demographic to anger.
Don’t demean the hard, sometimes thankless work I do in my home. Don’t assume that because my family is making it on one income (and that of a man) that I don’t understand economics and how it affects my family.
Don’t assume that because of the traditional role I’ve chosen that I don’t value women’s rights. Don’t imply that because I’m a stay-at-home mom I can’t relate with other moms. Don’t think that I don’t make just as many sacrifices.
Hilary Rosen’s comments aren’t an attack on Ann Romney, except for superficially. They’re an attack on moms, our choices, our families, and our right as women to choose. And I’ve got news for you, Rosen: there are a lot of us.
And we vote.
- Michelle Malkin: Hilary Rosen Comment Exposes Democratic Women’s ‘Contempt For All Conservative Moms’ (mediaite.com)
- Who’s really got a “woman” problem? (publiusonline.com)
- Mika Brzezinski Slams Hilary Rosen’s Comment On Ann Romney: ‘That Woman Works. It Was An Incorrect Statement.’ (mediaite.com)