This weekend, President Obama made some startling statements about stay-at-home moms. And frankly, I’m pissed. Full disclosure here of why: I’m not a mom. I don’t stay at home. I have NO idea what I’m talking about. I mean, really, all I have in this is I’ve found after six long years that the president and I actually have something in common. When it comes to stay-at-home moms we both should keep our mouths shut.
But since my bro couldn’t hold up his end of the bargain, I suppose I’ll have to pipe in with my own less than useful ramblings, as well.
My fellow chromosomed American, Mr. Obama’s statement:
“Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make,” … “So let’s make this happen: By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool, and let’s make sure that we are making America stronger.”
There’s a fantastic open letter to Mr. Obama you absolutely must read over at Little Fools that responds to this statement far better than I ever could (by an actual, you know, stay-at-home mom), but after some questions posed about it on its Facebook post, I felt someone should explain further why stay-at-home moms are more than a little perturbed at this.
Mr. Obama’s comments, while making no direct attack on stay-at-home moms, underlie a common theme stay-at-home moms are sick of hearing: their job doesn’t have the rewards — or the validity — that they’ve sacrificed everything for. No one’s spinning this into Mr. Obama says kids will be forced to go to preschool (aka daycare) against their will or Mr. Obama says he doesn’t want American women to be stay-at-home moms. Well, not exactly, anyway. But the entire message of what he is saying — that moms should have the career advancement making up for all the years they’ve spent at home with their kids as though they worked in the job — implies a message to homemakers that’s perfectly clear.
Their job isn’t worth it. Without some official presidential, male-chromosomal boost, some phantom government stimulus package, it just wouldn’t be worth the job.
And I’m going to wade into these dark waters: that’s ludicrous.
First of all, moms who stay at home with their kids for ten years (and work far harder than in any career no doubt) don’t deserve the corresponding career advancement. They don’t deserve it. They deserve something. Not that. It isn’t fair to a woman who sacrifices family time and untold more advancing herself in her career for a woman who spent that same time working with her children at home to swoop in and take the career advancement and pay she professionally labored for. Is Mr. Obama going to give the women who worked those years away in their careers the moments around the family lunch table back?
In the real world, one not miraged by socialist tendencies, that isn’t possible. There are consequences.
The woman who invests herself for years in her career deserves the advancement she’s worked for. End of story. And the woman who invests herself in pack lunches and ABC’s deserves the dividends she’s worked for. Her investment is immense — and this is what pisses me off about Obama’s message and is lost in his brusque application to moms — her dividends are infinitely great too: in children and family that pay a legacy for generations.
This is not a statement against women who invest in careers or struggle to balance difficult demands of family and work. But let’s not blow off women whose earnings are purely the stuff of laughter and tears and Tonka trucks crashing on a windowsill, either, as though they’re just at a standstill, on pause ’til they can rush back into the rat race, hopefully without falling behind. Because if you do, you unavoidably imply her job is less valid, until — that is — she ships her kids off to preschool to make America stronger.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A [woman] reaps what [she] sows. (Galatians 6.7)
That’s exactly why I’m angry about Mr. Obama’s comment. The implication is clear: the rewards and validity of being a stay-at-home mom aren’t enough. American moms don’t deal in windowsill currency anymore. They deal in cold, hard cash. That’s what he’s saying about them, you. Us. Not us, I’m a man. But, America. We’re in the business of “making America stronger.”
This comment is another presidential air drop on a mountain-high pile of steaming invalidation stay-at-home moms have been nursing in their back rooms for years while actually making America stronger, child by child, day by day, pack lunch by pack lunch.
But thanks for the PB&J, Mom, now when you get a real job we’ll give you some serious Monopoly money.
Do you hear the message to a home mom? Your cause isn’t valid, so we’ll tie these totally unrelated benefits in so your life doesn’t lose anything for your crap decision along the way. Like it’s a casualty. Well maybe something is.
Later in his statement, Obama extolled the virtues of preschool (aka daycare).
And if you think Obama was just massively misspeaking about not wanting American women to stay home — you’re probably right. But the first bullet point to his plan was to “enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool.”
This is a man who does not get it. He doesn’t understand why so many moms are stay-at-home moms in the first place. It isn’t because they can’t afford a qualified person to take their kids. It’s because they want to invest in a life of infinitely more value than anything found in a cubicle. Something Mr. President may or may not have forgotten along the way to a conference call with a world leader, and that I am tempted to forget every day I lace up a tie and stand in front of an audience that doesn’t throw black bean mango at me. Because the most important people in the world don’t wear suits, sashes, or decorated stars, they wear black bean mango on their faces.
But I’m not going to advocate for that job. Any stay-at-home mom can do it far better, and many have.
Instead, I’ll just stick my neck out and stand up with my boy. I’ll make a statement about something I know nothing about and admit to you that I will NEVER get it. We will NEVER get it. Not me, not my man Mr. President. We’re two peas in a stupid, stupid pod, we two, him and me. Which is why I’m going to keep my mouth shut from now on. From this moment on, I think.
After I say, “Thanks Mom,” that is.