My mother-in-law had been in town so I missed this post when it first went up: “I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Children and I’m Not Sorry.” Many have responded, viscerally, thoughtfully, angrily, nonchalantly… All of that. The blogosphere is a rich, vibrant thing. Terrifying, too, as the author is receiving death threats. What the what?
My reaction? The author asks pretty early on, “Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself?”
Well, I don’t at all, really.
In no way, shape or form would I request or expect equal footing with say, my best friend. She has the same education as me, but has worked steadily since we both got our graduate degrees 20 years ago. She advanced in her field is now directing governmental affairs for a very large energy company. We’re not on equal footing financially or professionally. She is a powerhouse in her industry. She is amazing. Me? I’m a writer and editor, I managed public affairs at nonprofit organizations. Even if I had continued to work steadily after having children, I still wouldn’t earn what she does. She’s in a more lucrative field.
We each made different choices. I don’t expect mine to have the same payoff.
As for this: “…women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments.” Ouch. It hurts because she struck a nerve.
I openly discuss how hard I work to manage a household. I do consider it an accomplishment. It’s not at all equal to anything other than perhaps what my mother did when she was my age (as that’s my only real point of comparison). But I will also openly discuss all my other accomplishments, as a volunteer, as a writer, as an athlete, as a singer, as a friend, blah blah blah. I have an ego. Who doesn’t?
But I’ve written before how a break from the world of paid work can affect one’s confidence, since there’s less pressure to perform. Since that post nearly two years ago, I took on more as a volunteer, I revved up my writing consultancy… I put myself under some pressure. Pressure’s a good thing. It inspires change.
And I appreciate Ms. Glass’ post. I do. But she used a bit of a straw man in her opening salvo: “equal footing.” I’m not certain that’s what any stay-at-home parent really wants. Nor am I certain that stay-at-home parents need applause.
I’m pretty sure they just expect acknowledgement. If children are to continue to be born, households will continue to need to be managed so that children will be able to grow. It’s not rocket science, or neurosurgery, or international diplomacy. It’s just a factor in our economy.
You know the one, that thing that allows some of us to work hard and earn lots, and others to earn nothing and give lots… and allows all the others to do everything in between… Until we choose or are able to do something differently.
Choices reflect points in time. Nobody is one thing forever. Looking down on young women with husbands and children may not make Ms. Glass feel sorry, but if done too long… her neck will get sore.
Chin up, everybody.