Writer’s Block: Politicizing Motherhood

By Corinne Wnek

Since last week’s revelation that Mitt Romney still has a huge trust problem among potential women voters, his campaign directors decided it was time to actualize their ultimate secret weapon. As it turns out, this weapon of mass instruction is none other than Anne Romney who believes she understands the issues of real working women because she raised five boys as a stay at home mom. “Believe me”, she says. “That was hard work.”

Cut to my life. I have little to complain about. When my daughter was born, my mother offered to retire to be my free, full time babysitter. I got real lucky because I never had a day that I worried about my little girl or questioned the care she was getting. As my daughter got older, my mother took her to school and was available to go get her when Jaclyn got sick and had to come home. Yes, I was lucky. But many women are not.

The brouhaha over whether or not being a stay at home mom constitutes a real job has little to do with presidential politics but does make for interesting cocktail party conversation. It also gets down to semantics and one’s definition of a job. It’s fair to say that we apply for a job and in return for the employment, we get compensated. Did Mrs. Romney apply for the job of mother? Did she supply credentials and references? Was she interviewed? Did she have to prove herself every day?

Rich or poor, I agree with Anne Romney that raising children is hard work. Being wealthy doesn’t make it any easier. But having an entourage of daily help as in housekeepers, cooks, private tutors, shoppers and chauffeurs does. I would completely understand Mrs. Romney’s exhaustion just from writing out checks to all of these people. And when the stress really built up, well, I guess that’s when the cozy beach house came in handy.

But the real problem now is that we are veering away from the major issues of the upcoming presidential election when we politicize the plight of working versus stay at home mothers. That bright and likable Anne Romney presumes to understand the economic pressures that mothers who have to work face, is laughable. It’s like saying you know all about Italy because you talked to some people who went there.

Still, I’d like to know what advice the Romney’s have for real working women, especially sole providers, who struggle to balance their job responsibilities with the demands of motherhood. Women in these situations need more than luck and they’re not asking for a handout.

But they do deserve real empathy from someone who’s been there and done that.

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