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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Only One Chance to Make a Difference

Back in the day, I worked at a company that sold flower seeds and distributed them all over the United States.  I was, as yet, a young, unmarried, 20-something working girl.  Many of my co-workers were young married women, and they all seemed to get pregnant with their first child at about the same time.  These were great people.  I loved being around them.

They all went and had their babies, and one by one, all but one, returned to work.  One of the first to have her baby, had her and then returned to work the following week.  Her intention was to take a six-week maternity leave.  We were all surprised to see her return so soon.

As she entered the door that morning, she announced that motherhood was "Boring."  She was so bored she had to come back.  Her mother was home with the baby.

I remember looking at this, me, as a single woman, and clearly it left an impression because I still ponder on it all these years later.  Motherhood....Boring?

I has just returned from Japan where I had seen mothers, when their children were very young, teaching them, singing to them and doing all that they could to build their children.

Boring just wasn't going to be part of my life, but I knew that was up to me.

I've been going through boxes in the garage.  What a fun project, huh?  Well, yesterday I ran across a box that contained old Franklin planner pages.  What I found were the pages from the days when I was a mother to one and then two children.  Fascinating!  I had forgotten what those days were like.

Every single day had a plan--a class here, a trip to the library there.  Seriously, not one day was empty.  I had forgotten that focus.  I wanted to do it right.  I was only going to have this child to raise once. and I wanted to enrich their brains while they were mold-able.  Anything but boring.  I remember reading a lot and searching for ways to form my children into good people.  I knew that eventually they would make their own choices completely and break out on their own, but for that short time in their lives, I wanted to make a difference.

Motherhood hasn't always been exciting and scintillating, as you can imagine.  Changing diapers for ten plus years straight, was anything but fun.  There have been days of emotional melt-downs for the children and me.  There have been days when I've longed for adult company, but would I change that for anything in this world?  Would I trade it for the money I could have had working during that time?  No way!  Because it was so much more than diaper changes, and I still hope that my work and planning and sacrifice in these years at home will pay off in the future in the lives of my children.

Have we struggled?  You'd better believe it.  Have we contemplated sending me off to work?  The Warden hasn't, but I have.  To be honest, on one of our first dates, the Warden said, point blank, that his wife would be a working mom.  I smiled and said nothing but thought I wasn't the woman for him.  Being raised by a caring, loving at-home mom, I knew that was what I wanted for my children, so it was worth the sacrifice needed to make it happen.

Timing is a funny thing.  Just yesterday reliving those early days in the planner pages and then today, I ran across this.  I would love to be able to embed the video for you to watch here, but that option didn't exist.  Sorry.

I'm sure that Ms. Rosen intended to aim it specifically at Mrs. Romney, but it strongly reeked of opposition to mothers staying at home to raise their children.  In other words, I took it as an attack on mothers, like me, who have chosen to stay home and raise their children.

Mrs. Romney, at one point shares that her husband used to say, "Ann, your job is more important than mine."  This, I believe, is the viewpoint that the Warden has taken.  I'm pretty sure he wouldn't trade places with me and that he wouldn't trust the raising of our children to anyone else as long as he can help it.

Ms. Rosen is highlighted a number of times during this broadcast, the second time she speaks, she starts with, "This is not about Ann Romney..."

So, although Ms. Rosen came right out and said, first thing, "Ann Romney,"but  this isn't about Ann Romney, I guess.

She continues:

"This is about the waitress in a diner in someplace in Nevada who has two kids whose daycare funding is being cut off because of the Romney/Ryan budget, and she doesn't know what to do.  This isn't about whether Ann Romney or I or other women of some means can afford to make a choice to stay home and raise kids.  Most women in America, let's face it, don't have that choice."

If Mitt Romney has told his wife that her job was more important than his, then doesn't it follow that he would feel that way about all mothers and children?  Doesn't it also follow that he would try to make that a possibility for all families?  I'm trying to keep religion out of this, but these are the values he was raised with.

"He seems so old fashioned when it comes to women, and I think that comes across, and I think that that's going to hurt him over the long term.  He just really doesn't see us as equal."

I think I look at this statement from a different angle.  If Mitt is distant with women, I get that.  Completely, but this is just my opinion.  It is similar to how my husband, as an elementary school teacher, couldn't ever be in the same classroom alone with a female student.  We have had past presidents who have been too familiar with women and have gotten into trouble.  I believe Mitt keeps a respectable distance.  This has nothing to do with his "old fashioned" views or treatment of women. Unless "old fashioned" means avoiding any appearance of evil.

Okay, so Ms. Rosen has just blown HUGE holes in her whole beginning argument.  I believe she started out her comments with "What my wife tells me is that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing."  Then she goes on to say that he treats women as unequal.  If anything, it looks to me like Mitt puts his wife's opinion as utmost in his life.

From what I've heard, it was listening to "his wife" that got him into this race.

Maybe it's Ms. Rosen who doesn't see US (working moms and stay-at-home moms) as equals.  Hmm....


Josh Alder said...

I already wrote about this on Facebook, and most of this is just verbatim what I wrote there, with a bit more at the the end. Here goes:

I can understand both sides here. Stay-at-home parents work very hard, no doubt, and shouldn't be disparaged for choosing to do so. Parents who have careers also work very hard to provide financially for their families.

However, Rosen added that Ann Romney "never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority off the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future."

Yes, the Romney family is very wealthy and balancing the checkbook or having enough money to buy groceries was undoubtedly never an issue. But, Rosen should have never said that Romney "never worked a day in her life." That wasn't really her point and she shouldn't have said it.

My take: whether a woman or man decides to stay at home to raise her/his children is a personal decision that no one should question, unless by doing so the parents are unable to sufficiently provide for their kids. No political party has a monopoly on stay-at-home parents or child raising in general.

Addendum: As a man, I see it this way. There are many kinds of women, obviously... and while many women consider motherhood to be the single most important role they will ever play, many women do not feel that way, even if they are, in fact, mothers. My mom is one of them. She's actually a great mom and she did a good job at raising me and my three younger sisters. But, she has confided to me more than once that if she could have done it over again, she would have just had me (albeit not quite as early, as I showed up when she was just 19) and gone to school. I know that she's happy that my sisters are in her life, but I think she also laments that she didn't do things a little bit differently. And, that's OK. My mom's main goal in life wasn't to be a mother... but, nonetheless, she did so as well as she could and I appreciate her for that.

I have more thoughts about this, but I understand what Ms. Rosen was trying to say -- essentially that Ann Romney hasn't had to worry about money the way many other stay-at-home moms do -- but she did it poorly by implying that Mrs. Romney hadn't "worked a day in her life." She may not have worked at a job, but certainly, she was working in her home to take care of her children.

Memory Bybee said...

Thank you. :-) I think she tried to insult only one woman but, according to the statistics, it looks like it might be closer to, oh, 5 million. And their husbands might not take too kindly to her remarks either.

Janiece said...

Very well put!

Jeanette said...

I kind of agree with Josh. I think Ms Rosen was an idiot, and owed Ann Romney an apology. I know that Ann has worked hard to raise her boys, and if she's anything like my mother, that job still isn't done.
If Ann Romney was her husband's ONLY economic advisor, I'd say that is trouble. Because neither he nor she has had to worry about what her staying home is costing. My husband and I had a conversation the other day, looking at our bank account and the fact that he won't get paid again until September (which isn't what we were hoping for), and thinking it'll probably work, but... it'll be tight. The Romney's, through no fault of their own, have never had this conversation. Ann Rommey never had to wonder if her going to work would mean a band instrument, sports team, summer camp, etc, and wonder if it's worth it or not. She has been lucky enough to be able to provide those things and stay home.
Anyway, it's good that Mitt respects his wife's opinion, and it's good she is not his only economic advisor.
And I'm glad that, so far, we can afford to have me stay home with my baby, because she is so beautiful and gets even more so each day!

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