Thursday, February 23, 2006

Off (writing) Topic Rant

I happened to catch a little bit of Good Morning America today, and I'm still steamed about it. Diane interviewed a woman named Linda Hirschman who says that "privileged, educated women who choose to stay at home to raise their children are hurting themselves and others."

Here's a link to the story, if you're interested: How to Raise Kids: Stay Home or Go to Work?

Her arguments are:

1. How can women leave the workplace when the divorce rate is 41 percent? And don't women know that after divorce, the man's standard of living goes up 10 percent while the woman's can collapse?

2. It's difficult to re-enter the workplace after staying at home, and that when a mother comes back, she may make less money.

3. Working is also a matter of feeling fulfilled. She doesn't buy into the arguments of many homemakers who say taking care of the family is the most fulfilling thing they could imagine.

4. Women who leave the workplace are ensuring that the hard-won gains made by women will be undone. She asks why should business schools give advanced degrees to those who don't use them?


When I left the work place, four months pregnant with my daughter, I was managing the sales department of a large HMO. I made more money than my husband. My husband, however, got education and training to enable him to be a big enough wage earner so I could stay home with our child.

I love staying at home. I wouldn't trade it for the world. My daughter is a healthy, happy and well-adjusted girl who is continually complimented on her demeanor and maturity. She is six years old and schooling easily at a second grade level.

I have an at home Avon business where I set my own hours (I never work nights or weekends) and my daughter is able to help me and to accompany me when I drop off orders. I also write with the hope of being published one day (soon?).

This woman calls me unfulfilled and also suggests that I "take one for the team" and work in an office so that other women will have the chance to the do the same at some point. She also suggests that I should assume there is a very good chance my marriage will end in divorce, and with that in mind I may need to work to support myself again.

Excuse me while I take just a moment to cool down. (paces the room)

Staying home may not be for everyone. That's true. And I'm certainly not trying to judge those moms who choose to work outside the home. But I'd ask other women not to judge me, either.

Don't tell me I'm going to get divorced. I didn't get married to get divorced, and neither did my husband. Period. We've made it ten years, we can make it longer.

Don't tell me I'm not fulfilled. I LOVE being a mom. Raising my daughter is the most challenging and important thing I've ever done. That I ever will do. Nothing is more important than that. I realize I could put her into school and go back to work... but I really believe that homeschooling is the right thing for her. She doesn't need fancy clothes, a bigger house, cool vacations or an x-Box more than she needs her mom and an appropriate education.

And don't ever, EVER tell me I couldn't take care of myself if something should happen to my husband. I took care of myself comfortably for thirty years, and I could do it again. Period. I'm not stupid and I'm more than capable.

There are plenty of single and/or woman who are childless who can "take it for the team" and hold down high powered jobs. When I chose to become a mom, I chose to put my child first. That means sacrifice. But it doesn't mean being unhappy.

Man, I am still steamed...

Thanks for letting me rant. Tomorrow, I'll be all better. Promise.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am in total agreement: Without sharing the lengthy details, suffice it to say that as an only child w/aspirations of going beyond the "glass ceiling" of the corporate world, who knew I would be so happy staying home with my small crew of 5 kiddos? I have volunteered, organized and participated in numerous capacities that have utilized my degree - yes, my degree, that I earned, to use (whenever I want) in whatever capacity I want. :-)
I am most delighted with the fact that I chose to homeschool my children also. They now excel in academics, as well as other areas in their lives. I know they would not be the grounded, knowledge-seeking, god-fearing young people they are today if I worked full time. We all help Dad with a family business & in doing so,they are learning entrepreneurial skills. No, we do not live on a farm & each child is actively pursuing interests of their choice.

Anyway, I am in agreement that I am not judging others who are raising their families the way they choose to so please do not judge others for their choices either. It kind of goes back to that old saying about walking in someone's shoes...you never know until you try it. Perhaps the lady on Good Morning America should try it before she criticizes it.

Charity said...

Well, the whole point of women’s liberation was choice. The right to choose. To say home. Not stay home. To have children. Not to have children. And not, I’m assuming, to be demeaned for that choice.

She asks why should business schools give advanced degrees to those who don't use them?

This is plain silly on her part. Schools don’t give degrees, they award them, to students who pass the entrance requirements, do the work, earn the grades, and then the diploma (not to mention, pay tuition). I’m not using my degree in Russian. Should I pay back the University of Wisconsin? If I want any sort of degree and then not “use” it, that’s my concern.

I didn’t even peek at the online discussion board. I could only imagine. I don’t do mommy drive-bys or get involved in mommy wars. I do think it’s important for little girls to see women in a variety of roles. But heck, I think it’s equally important for little boys to see this as well.

But that’s just me.

darcy said...

As if I could ever keep my nose where it belongs ...

Like C says, I don't usually do mommy wars, and I certainly don't agree with that ninny from GMA - but ...

there is something about some stay at home moms that absolutely grates on me.

Done well, mothering is more than a full time job -- it's an art. The problem is, so few do it well. I live in a conservative area where A LOT of women stay home, not just while they're raising children, but all their lives. It tends to narrow their view of the world and make them so self-involved as to be nauseating. They do not (as our dear Marianne does) volunteer, run their own home business, participate in a challenging hobby/vocation, seek to give their child a quality education.

For the most part, their children seem to be a means to an end, a way to keep themselves out of the workforce. Their number one goal seems to be keeping that bread-winning husband pleased. And I'm not saying that keeping your husband happy is a bad thing, just that it should not be the ONLY thing.

In example, I think a stay at home mom should not: barricade a 2 year old in one room so he doesn't "mess up" the house, learn to write like a child so she can complete her 8 year old son's workbook pages for him - and DH won't find out his kid doesn't know how to read, cloister her children so thoroughly that they NEVER experience a view outside their father's faith, require their 10 and 11 year olds to go to bed at 6PM so they won't disturb Daddy.

I have, sadly, seen all of this. And while these examples are on the extreme end, they are not so far off from the norm -- at least not around here.

Again, like C said, feminism was a struggle for choice. If you choose to stay home and raise your children -- I'm all for that. I'm all for dads doing that too.

Just make sure you are doing it for your child's sake -- not your husband's. He already had a mommy.

To be fair, I've also known women who excel so greatly at running a home and raising children that it would be a sorry shame to pluck them from their situation and send them elsewhere.

Like I said, done well, mothering is an art. Off MY soapbox now ;^)

-d

Marianne Arkins said...

Charity,

You said it the best: Womens Lib was about having a choice. Thank you.

Darcy,

OH NO! The woman who locks her 2 y.o. up should be locked up herself... my hubbie's totally freaky about a neat house, but my DD still gets to play. She just has to clean up when she's done. Sheesh.

And, I worked before I had my daughter, and I'll work again when she's grown -- even if it's just bartending or food service again (actually, I made a TON of money bartending... wouldn't mind doing that again). Women who don't work when they can do tend to bug me a little. I have a neighbor... oh man, I can't go there...

Anyhoo, Darcy, stick your nose in anytime. I suspect you and I are the polar opposites on many subjects. Could be an interesting conversation! But, how else do you learn and decide what to believe if you don't have all the info?

Thanks for your .02!

Judy said...

Hi... I, too, am in agreement with Charity. Women's liberation WAS about women getting to make the choice they want for their lives. I think a lot of people have forgotten that.

As far as working when you can...I stayed home when my kids were little. We were, also, a homeschooling family. There reached a point where I had to return to work, but I had a job I loved. It wasn't a high paying job, but I enjoyed it. I've gone through a divorce and remarriage, and the job, as much as I enjoyed it, didn't really pay enough to make up for my time spent away from home. Since I've quit work and started staying home, we're actually better off financially than when I worked. I love being home and being able to keep my house up, plan and cook nutritious meals for my family, and work on my writing. Even though my kids are all grown, I still am thankful I can be a full-time homemaker. Making a home is important even if the kids are grown.

darcy said...

Love you, M, and sorry Judy. I was just cross yesterday. I think the kind of woman I'm talking about is (maybe) peculiar to this area. She's a good church-going girl but the ink's barely dry on her high school diploma before she finds herself "accidentally" pregnant. She has to quit her (first and only) job at the Wal-Mart snack bar a week after the wedding -- due to unrelenting morning sickness/backaches/stress. She has the child (and possibly dotes on the first one) but the novelty soon fades and she puts more passion into All My Children watching than into watching all her children -- which she pops out approximately 9.2 months after someone says to her, "So, do you think you'll go back to work when X (or Y or Z) goes to Kindergarten?" She can't possibly volunteer at her kids' school fundraiser night because that cuts into 'family time'. And she can't volunteer through the day either because she's busy cleaning her house (gag). In fact, she only leaves her house for church on Sunday morning (where she continually complains about X, Y and Z being pains in the behind) or Wednesday night church supper (where she continually complains that having to make her signature casserole -with the potato chips crumbled on the top- is so taxing that she hardly knows if she'll be able to go grocery shopping tomorrow. Oh yeah, she does leave the house to go grocery shopping but DH and the kids have to all come along because God didn't mean for women to make a financial decision like generic or name brand on their own. She is dull, dull, dull. The only opinions she has have to do with television shows -- and how evil working mothers are so selfish. THEY would rather have new shoes than raise their children. THEY don't know how to sacrifice.

oops, I've slipped back into bitter. Honestly, I didn't mean to. There are some lovely (saintly even) women I know who have really devoted their lives to running a home and raising their children. They are marvels and I wish I could be like them. It's just those bad apples that have left such an awful taste in my mouth ;^)

-d

darcy said...

And yes, Judy, I agree -- making a home is important, whether you've still got kids at home or not. If you do it well (like my m-i-l and s-i-l -- amazing!) and you can swing it financially, I say go for it!

-M's crazy friend, d

E said...

So she wasn't very intelligent with her education...