The Romney vs. Rosen Motherhood is Hard kerfuffle has brought to mind something that has niggled at me for a long time. What is that? Well, and this might ruffle feathers, it is the tendency we have as a culture toward deification of motherhood.
Lately there has been a rash of twee little images on my social media sites inviting me to repost if my children make me whole. Or complete me. Or are my sun moon and stars. Or…it gets really over the top, trust me. I don’t repost them because I do not, nor have I ever, defined myself by my children. Nor by what they accomplish. Proud of them? Yes. Think I deserve a ticker tape parade for raising them? No.
I love my children. I love children in general. Which is why I have a tendency to take in other people’s and raise them, too. But when I think of who I am, the first word that floats up as a descriptor is not “Mother”. The words I think of first are writer, geek, reader, gardener…mother is somewhere down the list but not at the top. Not even close.
Who I am has defined what kind of mother I am but being a mother has less to do with who I am than any number of other factors. I would not have been the same person without the influence of my children, true. But their influence and the experience of raising them is not the beginning middle and end of my being. It is rather a data point in a host of other data points that make up the whole of me. And, frankly, I would have been complete without them. A different person, but complete.
So when DNC’s Hilary Rosen made the comment that Ann Romney had “Never worked a day in her life.”? And all the hemming and hawing and calls for apologies made me roll my eyes. Mothers across America were highly offended by this. It was slur against them personally. Because Motherhood is hard work.
I wasn’t offended. I was more squinty about the instant reaction that Ms. Rosen should be ashamed of herself. And the distancing everyone and their brother did. I wasn’t offended because Hilary Rosen wasn’t talking about me. I did a stint as a stay at home mom. This was because I am more fertile than a rabbit on viagra and I had many children in a short span of years. It made economic sense at the time.
Those years were…not my cuppa. Perhaps if I found completion in motherhood I wouldn’t have hit the door running when dad came home and went to the neighbor’s to get some adult stimulation uninterrupted by people asking me where they put their shoes and generally trying to use my uterus as a tracking device.
You know what it wasn’t? It wasn’t hard. Motherhood is not that hard. It can be boring. It can be frustrating. It can be drudgery. But it isn’t hard. I have the chops to make that assertion, too. I have enough kids to field most of a baseball team. The actual day to day stuff of mothering is dead simple. You make sure they are fed, clothed and clean. You dry their tears, break up midget wrestling matches over whose turn it is to play with that toy, you listen to them and you attempt to teach them to move in civilized society without alienating themselves from their peers.
Yes, there is more to it than that, but those are the basics. It is not hard unless you have a child with special needs or you are completely screwing the pooch somehow on the basics. It is certainly not a struggle. Not to be a stay at home mother with the financial resources to support that choice.
You know when it got hard for me? When I found myself supporting my whole family. Including a couple of grandchildren. Because everyone else got laid off. And because I am a contractor my income was not a pay check every week kind of deal. It is feast or famine. That was hard. That was a struggle. That I feel justified in whining about.
So Rosen’s remarks didn’t touch me. They weren’t about me. They were about a woman like me, admittedly fertile, who chose to stay home and raise her children. BUT and this is a huge BUT this particular woman has an unlimited budget for anything she desires. She can hire outside help. She has a flippin’ elevator for her car. She couldn’t be any more disconnected experience wise from my or the rest of the world’s average women if she lived on the moon.
Simply put? Ann Romney’s world is not our world. Her little stay at home mommy fiefdom is not the same as my friend Linda’s, even. Linda’s husband is a doctor in rural Alaska. They have 8 children. They do not hurt for money but…Linda does everything herself. Sometimes her husband is gone for days and she is the sole parent. She cooks, she cleans, she deals with school work and things like her well filling up with silt and trying to figure out how to get clean when your faucets are running mud.
I sincerely doubt that Ann Romney has ever even used a toilet plunger. Let alone hauled water from a creek so she could bathe properly.
Rosen was right. Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life. And even those chores of motherhood that she did engage in were not done whilst trying to figure out how you were going to make the car payment AND keep the internet on so you could make money to pay next months bills.
Motherhood is a job that you take on willingly when you give birth. You are a mother whether you work or not. When you work you still have to do all the things the person who doesn’t struggle financially has to do. Stay at home motherhood is a luxury for those people in Ann Romney’s position. Not a career choice. She sacrificed nothing (except maybe her sanity) to do so.
I find the idea completely laughable that the majority of stay at home mothers out there who are clipping coupons to make ends meet have anything in common with Ann Romney. Like I said, they have an elevator for their car. Hello? She never had to struggle. Not as a mother. Not financially.
Yes, she has MS. And battled breast cancer. Those are struggles. But they are not the same struggle as the under employed mother of 3 whose husband gets laid off faces. And even in that she is more blessed than most of us. She has enough money to get the best medical care in the world.
So everyone should get off Rosen’s back. She was spot on. Ann Romney lacks both the experience and the perspective experience brings to be able advise anyone what the average woman cares about. That Mitt Romney uses her name like she is his trained monkey who whispers on the mysteries of women in his shell like ear is squick worthy. If you want advice that actually means something you have to get it from someone who has a bloody clue what you are asking about. You don’t ask your surgeon how to repair your leaky radiator, after all.
Rosen’s point was that Ann Romney doesn’t know jack. The fact that she owns a vagina and a uterus does not make her an expert on how women in all socio economic classes feel and live. And that Mitt should get someone else’s advice. For a start. It is a valid opinion and nothing to apologize for.