Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Motherhood Dichotomy

   My mother has never forgiven herself for going to work when I was a child. She wasn’t a bad mom. I was well into school, 3 of my siblings were old enough to be babysitting, and I learned cherished values that I wouldn’t have any other way. But she still carries a regret that I’ve done my share of lifting since I announced I wanted to go to school. It’s a catch 22 that mothers throughout society face: mothers who choose to stay at home are made to feel unappreciated and underachieving, while mothers who choose (or have) to go to work are made to feel guilty. But we all agree that what is good for one family may not be right for another. And yet society places judgment, regardless of the decision. It’s a simple, yet stark conclusion: women are not trusted to decide for themselves what is best for them and their families.  Think about it.
   I think the dichotomy is highlighted by the political blowout from strategist Hillary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. The comments were untrue and uncalled for. But the circumstances of Ms. Romney’s choice to stay home stands as a blaring reminder of how many women in the country cannot make that choice. What’s more interesting, during his tenure in office, Mitt Romney tried to increase the required hours worked outside the home in order to receive state childcare reimbursement (a program I think is bass ackwards, but maybe later). In his words, he was trying to “Afford women the dignity of work.” So if you’re rich like Ann, you can take pride in spending all your time with your children, even as they’ve grown. But if you’re poor, there is no dignity in being a mother. Think about it.
    I made the decision before I had children, that when I had them I’d stay at home with them as long as they were in the home. I made my decision based on solid sociological and psychological studies, and my personal interpretations of such. There were hard times where I felt it would be better for the family’s wellbeing if I were able to help with the income - but the ultimate cost of child care, monetarily and emotionally, would have been more than my uneducated self could make. That’s messed up. We made it work out, and I was able to stay at home, but there were plenty of times I was made out to feel unappreciated and two-dimensional. That’s messed up. Now may children have grown beyond this sphere, and I have too. We’re ready to branch out and grow in ways only the village can supply. I’m doing what is best for my family, but there’s always someone, somewhere who wants to cast judgment over that choice. That’s messed up.
Being a mother is awesome.
Being a mother deserves options.
Being a mother deserves respect. 

1 comment:

  1. Obviously I am not a mother so you can ignore everything I say about this topic. There was a time in my life where I thought I would never leave the home until my kids are in grade school. But now that I am older I think there is no way I could handle being a stay at home mom full time. Everyone needs balance and to be challenged both physically and intellectually. My mom stayed home until my little brother started kindergarten. She then got her education and started working. (Which really paid off a few years later when my dad was laid off). Everyone is different and needs to do what is going to be the best for the family. An unhappy mother is not going to be the best for any family. (Not to say you're unhappy) I hope you get school all figured out! It's wonderful going back.