If I had 5 housekeepers and nannies to help me raise my children, I don’t think I would dare compare myself to the average stay-at-home mom in America. Yet, when Hilary Rosen told Anderson Cooper last week that, “Ann Romney hasn’t ever worked a day in her life,” stay-at-home moms across the country took it personally.
Why? Ann Romney’s version of stay-at-home mommery in no way compares to the average American homemaker’s life. I’ve been a stay-at-home mother myself, so I would know. Maybe I’m not the average American housewife, but I’m pretty sure my story comes a lot closer to the norm than Romney’s.
I am a veteran of the United States Air Force who decided to separate from the military and stay at home with my first new baby 13 years ago. I spent about the first whole year at home with each of my children, partly because I didn’t want to miss out on those first months of their lives, and partly because my economic situation at the time dictated that I do so.
I don’t think anyone looks down on me for the time I spent at home with my kids any more than anyone looks down on me for working full-time now. Anyway, they’d better not, considering the alternative. I could be sitting at home on welfare right now while your tax dollars support my kids.
Unlike Ann Romney, I didn’t have a millionaire (billionaire? It’s hard to say, considering he’s requested an extension on filing his taxes this year so he can avoid releasing his tax return to the public prior to the election) husband I could rely on to “bring home the bacon.”
Instead, I found myself married to a spendthrift who seemed determined to put us in the proverbial poorhouse. I can’t tell you how many times I worried where our next meal would come from after my husband (luckily my ex-husband now, although I’m sure some of you may think I’m abusing my children by not staying married to him) had just blown every penny we had on yet another weekend of binge drinking.
I worked several dead-end jobs over the first few years of our marriage, just trying to keep food in my son’s mouth and clothes on his back. I spent several months cleaning offices on base in Hawaii before we were transferred to Minot, North Dakota. In Minot, I spent a summer cleaning houses on base as military families vacated them.
After my husband was thrown out of the military, I was the first to get a job. We were living in his parent’s basement at the time, and I was in a hurry to support my own family since my husband seemed incapable of doing it. That’s when I took a job as a Subway sandwich artist. I was on the fast track to taking over management of one of my boss’ many Subway sandwich shops when my husband was offered a better-paying position an hour away. So, like a good wife, I quit my job and moved an hour away to support him in his. I wasted 10 years of my life trying to do things the way the Evangelicals think we’re supposed to.
Despite the better-paying job, my husband still wasn’t making enough money to support his outrageous spending habits, so I had to find another job ASAP. I was soon working as a payroll clerk at a local university. Then, seven years after my first baby was born, I had my second. (Just in case you wondered, I was on the pill all those years in between kids because I didn’t want to keep popping out kids I couldn’t afford to support. If that makes me a prostitute, then go ahead and call me one, Pill Head.)
After giving birth to my second baby, I found out my piddly salary wasn’t enough to cover full-time child care while I went to work. I ended up losing my job because the waiting list for the discounted campus child care center was far longer than my maternity leave. So, I got to stay home with my second baby for several months before taking another dead-end job that paid me about $5 a week over the cost of my weekly daycare. Needless to say, I didn’t stay there long. I mean, why stay at a miserable, go-nowhere job when it’s just as cheap to stay home?
At some point, during all of these years of struggle, I came to terms with the fact that my children had only me to depend on. I realized their best chance at a real future relied on my going back to school and getting a job that pays a living wage. Yes, I was married to their so-called father. Yes, we were already married when we found out we were having our first child. Yes, he had a job, and he made enough money that I should have been able to stay home with our children if I so desired.
I did everything I was ‘supposed’ to do, but I could not stay home with my kids and keep them fed and housed. I had to choose one or the other. Like any good mother would do, I chose keeping my kids fed and housed. Unfortunately, most of us mothers either stay at home with our children or go out into the workplace because that’s what we have to do, not because that’s what we have chosen.
Since I have been a mother, the need to either stay home with my kids or go to work has never been a choice that I have made. It has always been an action that I have taken based on my family’s current economic situation, over which I had very little control until I finally got the nerve to leave my husband. Like so many American women, I fend for myself and my children because if I don’t, who will? This can be said for most of us, whether we stay at home or not. Why do we keep fighting the “mommy wars” when we should be standing together to help each other out no matter how we choose to support our families?
What do you think? Please comment below.
- “An Unrepresentative Woman”: Typical Stay-At-Home Mom Bears No Resemblance To Ann Romney (mykeystrokes.com)
- [Op-Ed] Ann Romney Should Stop Defending Her “Stay-At-Home Mom” Status (inquisitr.com)
- Did Mitt Romney Insult Stay-at-Home Moms? (themoderatevoice.com)
- Ann Romney Wants to Be America’s First Professional Mother First Lady in a Century [First Ladies] (jezebel.com)
- Who’s Zooming Who? (skydancingblog.com)
- Have Democrats shot themselves in the foot by attacking Ann Romney? (thedaleygator.wordpress.com)
- Mother-Huckster: Chris Hayes Busts Mitt Romney’s Double Standard On Moms And ‘Work’ (mediaite.com)
- Ann Romney Versus Hilary Rosen: Ms. Rosen Speaks The Gospel. (theobamacrat.com)
- Democratic strategist apologizes to Ann Romney (fox6now.com)