Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Stay at Home Mom Speaks...

I am a stay at home mom and proud of it. I believe that I have one of the most mentally and physically demanding jobs on the planet.

On the morning of July 26th 2006, standing at my kitchen counter sipping on my hot cappuccino, I picked up the Boston Globe and I was shocked and angry when I read an article about philosopher, Linda Hirshman and her statement that the best place for an intelligent woman is in the workplace and not at home.

In an article in the American Prospect this self-proclaimed intellectual reportedly wrote, “Housekeeping and child-rearing are not worthy of the full time talents of intelligent and educated human beings.” And then there is her book titled, “ Get to Work: A manifesto for women of the world.” As if being a stay at home mom was a South Seas vacation.

It was also reported that death threats have become an occupational hazard for Hirshman and that she and her husband live in anonymity, fearful of what may happen. I wonder if this should even be surprising.

In this day and age, I continue to be shocked with people that make statements like Linda Hirshman. And then there are those that claim that they need the second income. Those that are below the poverty line may need it, but when those whose spouses make six figure salaries claim that they cannot survive without a second income, I just laugh and wonder why they choose to live beyond their means. And then there are those who spend most of their second income on daycare, I don’t get it!

Is it more important to have a $50,000 car than drive one half the price and stay home with our children when they need us the most? Is a 5000 sq ft home more beckoning than one half that size but overflowing with love and warmth? Does it make sense to pay most of what we make towards childcare services or a nanny, rather than spend precious time with our younglings?

While on vacation, a friend’s three year old son woke up in the middle of the night, screaming for his nanny, while both his mother and father were present right by his side. It scares me to think that any son would be happier with a nanny that gets paid to take care of him, rather than his own parents, who are too busy making money and pursuing their careers.
Being a stay at home mom is a physically and mentally demanding job, yet it is more rewarding than any other job one could have. Especially during the child’s formative years, it is critical to instill the right values and education in these young minds that can assimilate even more information than a dry sponge.

I found it personally insulting when I read what Linda Hirschman had to say. I am an intellectual as well. Just because I stay home, it does not mean that I am incompetent or incapable of holding a good job. After heading up marketing for a software company, and being a successful marketing consultant for multinational organizations, I quit my job to stay at home with my son, purely out of choice. I, like many other compassionate men and women, choose to use my intelligence and knowledge to rear my child and be available to them at all times, instead of bringing in the green.

Several people have looked down upon me for this, some of them even my close relatives. Not many accept that staying at home with your little one is not all about having fun and playing hooky from a 9-5 job. Being a stay at home mom is a 24-hour job and responsibility, which can be extremely trying but where the rewards are immense.

This is not a defensive outburst, neither is this about feminism and women’s equality. I know for a fact that my husband would gladly be a stay at home dad if he needed to. However, the one who brings in a higher paycheck continues to work. This becomes an important factor when you have a single income family. It’s as simple as that.

During the three or so years that I have been home with my son, there have been some frustrating moments and many joyful ones. The realization that I can go back to my career any time, but I cannot rewind my son’s childhood and development made my decision easier. I do not for one moment regret my decision and would do just the same thing over and over again if I had to relive my life.

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