Political strategist and pundit Hilary Rosen made a rather large flub when she accused Ann Romney, a (wealthy) stay-at-home mom of five boys of “never working a day in her life.” She then said Mitt Romney has “very old fashioned views of women.” Later, she clarified her statements, saying she wasn’t knocking stay-at-home moms, but rather exemplifying the large financial gap between working moms and Ann Romney. I’m not going to linger on Rosen’s ad hominem attack on Ms. Romney- instead I’m going to transition to a blog post written by Hanna Rosin for Slate magazine entitled “No Apologies Necessary Hilary.” I feel a comma before Hilary would’ve been appropriate, but whatever. I generally enjoy Ms. Rosin’s writing- she writes for Slate and The Atlantic. Last evening, however, she royally pissed me off when she wrote the following:
-there is no reason why we always have to use the "acceptable" formulation “work outside the home” every time we talk about mothers. We can admit that that’s an awkward phrase, and we can also admit that at this point staying home full time with your children is not only a choice but pretty much a luxury of the elite. And almost by definition makes it hard for you to relate to the average woman.
I, personally, had no idea that staying home with my kids was a sign of “elitism” on par with carrying a Prada purse and wearing Gucci sunglasses. In my own experience, which I realize stands for nothing, many stay-at-home moms are lower-middle to middle class women who forgo higher-middle class status and “luxuries” in order to stay home with their kids. They live in average neighborhoods, their husbands or partners earn average salaries, and they budget and buy from consignment shops and garage sales in order to save money.
But since my personal experiences are generally worthless, let’s look at scientific data provided by the 2010 census:
Compared with other moms, stay-at-home moms in 2007 were more likely to be:
- Younger (44% were under 35 compared with 38% of mothers in the labor force).
- Hispanic (27% compared with 16% in the labor force.)
- Foreign-born (34% compared with 19% of mothers in the labor force).
- Without a high-school diploma (19% versus 8% of mothers in the labor force).
I can only guess that Rosin is implying that anyone who is not working-class, i.e. the lower-middle class to the uber-rich, is now a part of the “elite.” And here I thought the middle-class families were the ones who were crumbling, the ones the presidential candidates are ardently promising to save.
Truthfully, even if I wanted to work, the cost of daycare would not make that choice financially prudent. Though my husband makes a lovely salary, when you take into account taxes and those pesky school loan payments, we are right smack dab in the middle of the middle class. It’s still my choice not to work outside the home (I work part-time inside the home)- and that may very well change next year when the four rugrats are in school- but let me tell you what. Having kids is expensive and emotionally taxing, whether or not you are a working mom or a stay at home mom. We each wipe butts, worry about paying for college educations, stay up late nights when our kids are sick or have had a nightmare- we each have hopes and dreams for our kids, and none of us wants our daughters to become middle-aged divorcees struggling to make ends meet while raising three teenagers. We are moms. Why, Rosin, do you exacerbate the unnecessary rift between us? Why do you make it sound like staying home is akin to yachting up and down the
For many middle-class moms, staying at home is a choice. For others it is not. Some days, staying at home with a cooing infant is a luxury.
Mostly, it’s just really hard work.