I am a stay at home mom. Which, if you pay attention to the news these days, seems to be a very luxurious, yet controversial, career choice. Here’s the quotation from Democratic strategist and frequent White House visitor Hilary Rosen that got this whole controversy started:
“What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country, saying, ‘Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.’ Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of 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.”
I’m not going to jump into the fray that so many have – that moms work no matter if employed or at home. That’s a no-brainer. Even Ms. Rosen herself clarified that.
What bothers me is the last part of the statement – that stay at home moms are assumed to not have to worry about economic issues of feeding children, schooling, and their future.
On that, I cry foul!
See, I’m a stay at home mom, and I guess I personally fall into the spectrum of having a husband who has a salary that does afford paying all our bills and providing for even some splurges such as eating out and going to the movies from time to time. But I remember growing up in a household where my mom stayed at home and we did face economic hardships at time. My parents sacrificed a lot in dealing with the economic issues of feeding the family, schooling, and the future.
Even today, in my MOPS group alone, I can think of at least 20 moms that have chosen to stay home with their kids despite financially living by the skin of their teeth. They religiously follow the Dave Ramsey plan and have to budget to their very last penny to make ends meet. They coupon – and I don’t just mean clip the occasional coupon – I mean they save ridiculous amounts of money using the couponing tricks you read about on the web. They spend a couple hours every week searching for the best deals where they can stack coupons and still feed a family of 4 or 5 or 6 or more on the the paltry amount of $80 a week.
They drive used vehicles and shop at consignment stores. Some clothe their kids through hand me downs and our annual MOPS swap where you get to shop for free. They breastfeed not just out of choice but because it doesn’t cost as much as formula. They cloth diaper because in the long run it saves tons of money. They tutor during their kids naptime hours to help fill in the occasional gaps in their budgets.
There is no left over money for college funds. They don’t contribute to multiple IRAs, 401ks, etc. The future, well, it might be a little up in the air right now. Even my family, while comfortable day to day, will be searching for scholarships and looking at Junior College or Tech School to help make college affordable for our three.
All moms, whether working outside the home or working as a stay at home mom, do deal with the reality of economics in their life. Stay at home moms are not some privileged group of women whose biggest worry is what strand of pearls to wear with her Mrs. Cleaver dress and heels. Most of the stay at home moms I know have made a big sacrifice to stay at home with their kids. And it is a choice that should be respected, not degraded.
Come to think of it, our government and political officials could learn a lot about fiscal responsibility from stay at home moms… bills would get paid, deficits would be erased, and perhaps, just maybe some of the nastier talking heads might just earn a time out or two. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
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