I should be writing a proposal for a client.
I should be making dinner for my family.
Barring those two things, I should be playing with my kiddos or insisting that Jack practice flute, or Quin finish his reading or Rocky stop banging on the gosh darn piano because it’s making the dog bark.
But I am not doing any of those things. I am sitting down to write something because, although I am not in any way, active politically, I feel that there is one particular issue about which I can speak, if not universally, at least nationally.
I was a single mother.
I was (nearly) a teenage mother.
By the time I graduated college, I had a 1 and a 3 year old.
I now have three children that I love and cherish. I have been a stay at home mom, a work from home mom and a working mother. So…I win. And I have had it. I have had it with the backlash over Rosen’s remark regarding Mitt Romney’s wife and mother to their five sons, “She’s never worked a day in her life!”
I have read a lot of commentary over the past couple of days regarding this issue. I’ve read this from a pro-life blog, this from a conservative blog, and this from someone who remembers and cherishes a childhood with a stay at home mom.
I don’t deny any of these people their viewpoints. Motherhood is tough, especially for stay at home moms (even as I write this, I am being pestered for screen time, one of my children won’t leave my office and give me the 15 seconds of privacy I’ve asked for and another just tried to climb out the window onto the roof to get a frisbee), but the issue with this argument and this one are that they are presenting stay at home motherhood as a series of “choose your own adventure” choices. Get serious.
The fact is for many American women (let’s not forget we’re talking about the necessary qualifications to be a President here?) being a stay at home is a choice they would LOVE TO MAKE! But they can’t. They don’t have the economic surety, the reputable and educative daycare nearby, the public transportation options, the safe housing, the child support, the birth control, to make that choice.
I believe that Mrs. Romney worked very hard raising those boys. I really do. But do I think for one minute that she ever had to decide whether to fill up her car and survive the embarrassment of her card being declined or risk running out of gas on the way to daycare? No. Do I think she has ever forgone buying her children’s school pictures because she literally didn’t have the $8.00 to spare? Do I think she has ever looked at the back of a package of beans to determine which kind would give the kids more protein until payday? NOPE.
She had amazing advantages and I will not speculate farther than that. What I will say is that I have had to make all of the choices listed above and I am luckier than so many single or wed mothers in this country. I was able to get an education (because I had a family support system), I had the luxury of getting my first home (because I married an employed man who worked hard so that I could stay home) and I have been able to carve out a career in a time of economic upheaval (because that same husband stayed home to raise our children and I live in the middle of the country).
What people are missing about what Rosen said (poorly phrased and dismissive, YES) is that it was in response to Mitt Romney insisting that his wife was solid counsel on women’s economic affairs. She is not. The fact that she is a great mother doesn’t change that. The fact that Rosen spoke too fast and too rudely does not change that. Romney and his ilk (and that means his wife and family) cannot sit around and make decisions about the majority of Americans because they are completely out of touch with what an average American goes through, much less what an impoverished mother who has run out of choices has to go through.
Hilary Rosen appeared on CNN Thursday and explained her comments further. “If I had a do over what I would be saying is that Mitt Romney should not be on the campaign trail saying to women that my wife tells me how it is for women out there because people of wealth sometimes take for granted some of the niceties that they have in life, and the Romneys are people of wealth.”
Go ahead and pay attention to the shiny argument “War on Mothers!” that’s being splatted like baby food all over the front pages if you want to. But that’s not what the argument is about. And it’s an insult to women who have not only had to make hard choices but who have run OUT of choices to make because their economic policies are being decided by people who literally have no clue. It’s also kind of an insult to women who choose to work and think that is just as noble a choice.
PS Do not come out me with how hard she likely worked. This argument is also not about that. It is about her ability to advise her husband on women’s economic policy. Unless you are going to tell me she worked really hard at a women’s shelter or soup kitchen for the last 30 years, don’t bother.