A Loving Conversation About “Working” Moms

Why so much anger over “working” moms?

A CNN political strategist named Hilary Rosen made a comment about Mitt Romney’s wife Ann that touched off a firestorm of talk about work and motherhood. In short, Rosen claimed it was inappropriate for Mitt Romney to laud his wife as a source of insight into Americans’ economic concerns, because Ann Romney, as a stay-at-home mom, “never worked a day in her life.” You can get more details here if you’re interested.

Responses were rapid and varied. Some saw Rosen as the worst kind of snide career woman whose kids were raised by surrogates. Others argued that Ann Romney didn’t work “as hard” as women who try to parent and build careers, or that she wasn’t even a “real” stay at home mom, since the Romneys are wealthy enough to afford help with the kids and housework.

What struck me more than anything that was said was the tone of the whole thing. Women’s responses on both sides of the issue were just so angry, vitriolic even.  

Frankly, ladies, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. What’s more, we’re hurting a whole new generation of young women.

It’s something I hear over and over with young Christian working women:

“I feel called to work now, but I want to get married and have kids some day, and what then?”

“Can I still have a successful career? Is it even okay to want that?”

“Will I want to stay home with my kids? Whether I want to or not, should I? Is that what good Christian moms do?” 

“Why spend all this effort building a career path if I’m going to leave the work force for a decade or so?”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard this is?” 

This is a conversation we women NEED to be able to have in a loving and supportive way.

I know some brilliant talented women who stay home with their children, and I know some incredible mothers who also work hard building a career. Other friends are nap-time professionals, working part-time from home.  The thing is, all of these women also struggle with some amount of guilt and insecurity over whatever choices they’ve made, and I think that’s a big part of why the issue is so touchy. When you’re insecure about your choice, even innocent questions can feel like an attack.

And okay, yes, some women do attack. But most just stay silent. Or they only talk with women who’ve made the same work/motherhood choices they have. All three responses are divisive and isolating.

As hard as it is, we need to be able to separate our own choices from the greater discussion. We need to be able to lovingly support one another through all these decisions and struggles.

There is no “right” answer.

There is no easy answer.

But it doesn’t have to be this hard.