by: Danielle LaPointe
There have been more cringe-worthy statements made in this primary season than I care to recall. When Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen appeared on CNN and claimed that Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life”, I cringed. Not because I disagreed, but because I knew it would be yet another outdated topic that would distract from real issues like the economy and healthcare reform.
Ms. Rosen wasn’t saying that being a full-time mom isn’t work. She also wasn’t making an unprovoked personal attack on a family member of a candidate – one of the many charged leveled against her. Mitt Romney has, on numerous occasions, presented his wife as an advisor of sorts on issues important to women. Ms. Rosen’s point was that there are not many women who relate to Ann Romney or the financial situation that has allowed her to never seek a paying job outside of the home.
As a working mother (who watched Rosen’s interview on CNN and therefore understands the context), I agree with her point, poor wording aside. I don’t relate to Ann Romney’s situation and I don’t expect that she relates to mine. In my desire to ignore peripheral issues that I’ve deemed secondary, I was prepared to leave it at that. It was Mrs. Romney’s subsequent rallying cry to stay-at-home moms everywhere that caught my attention. Mrs. Romney pursued every opportunity to tout the crucial role stay-at-home moms play in the lives of their children and to the overall well-being of the nuclear family.
Mrs. Romney’s rhetoric bothered me, here’s why: choosing to work is not choosing not to be a mom. Working mothers are not exempt from the work that stay-at-home moms deal with everyday. Don’t get me wrong, staying at home with my two young children all day is a lot of work. It’s stressful. It’s draining. Some days it makes me long for my quiet office. But, what’s worse than staying home and dealing with two crazy kids? Being at work and worrying that I’m missing important milestones. Sitting at my desk knowing that someone else is rocking my baby while he falls asleep. Listening to my two-year-old use all of his new words to describe people and experiences that have absolutely nothing to do with me.
Hopefully, this argument won’t matter in November. At least it shouldn’t matter. The issue of working moms versus stay-at-home moms shouldn’t be part of the conversation in 2012. Like contraception and abortion, the matter should remain as a choice to be made without fear of judgment. At the very least we, as a nation recovering from a devastating recession, should be above this debate and understand that most families cannot afford to live on a single income. We should be focusing on ways to ensure that staying home to raise children is a choice, instead of a luxury only wealthy families can afford.
Danielle LaPointe graduated from Valparaiso University with a degree in Political Science. She has spent the last five and a half years working in fundraising and development. Her hobbies include reading, music, cooking, and raising two sons with all sorts of great qualities, most importantly compassion and good senses of humor.