The Age Old Debate (Can’t we all just get along?)


My day started bright and early with a call that ABC radio wanted to interview me on my stance on political strategist Hilary Rosen’s recent comment that Ann Romney, wife of white house hopeful Mitt, had no business advising her husband on women and the economy, given that she had “never worked a day in her life.”

My first reaction was to laugh at the request. Me? A political pundit? Snort.

But the more I thought about it, I realized this had nothing to do with politics. This was about motherhood, plain and simple. People always say that politics and religion are the two things you never want to a discuss at a dinner party, because the topics are so polarizing and personal. Seems there should be a third topic on that list: motherhood.

Rosen broke this Cardinal Rule of motherhood and now is paying the price in the form of public backlash. I must say that her comments bothered me too, as a card carrying member of the Mommy Club.

Whether or not I agree that Mrs. Romney’s lack of paid work experience precludes her from having a perspective on the economy, I whole-heartedly disagree with the underlying implication behind Rosen’s comments: that stay-at-home-mothering isn’t real work. Motherhood is the hardest job I’ve ever had, and I know I’m not alone.

Romney raised five kids, but because she didn’t get paid, she is accused of having never worked.  Something tells me that with that many sons, Romney worked her ass off. She was a janitor. She was a nurse.  She was a therapist, clown, baker and a chauffeur.  The list could go on all day. I’m sure she wiped more butts at home than she would ever have had to kiss in the workplace. I also suspect that she has at least once in her life had to cut gum out of her own hair or fish a toy out of a dirty toilet. And, she did it for free. Because it was all part of the job.

I don’t know Ann Romney personally, and I know nothing about her parenting. Same goes for Hilary Rosen. What I do know is that pitting stay-at-home-mothers against working moms gains us nothing, and it’s much larger than this most recent spat. So here’s an idea: let’s support one another’s decisions. As mothers everywhere know, there are few decisions as hard as the one we make about whether or not to go back to work.  A mother is a mother, regardless of her employment status, and the last thing you need is another mom judging your decisions. Do what works best for you.  Work or don’t work, breastfeed or don’t breastfeed, circumcise or don’t circumcise, co-sleep or don’t co-sleep. Make the decisions that are best for you, and leave it to the other moms to do the same.

After all, we’ve all been on the receiving end of explosive diarrhea at one time or another. Shouldn’t that bond rather than divide us?


    • 3

      Heather B says

      ABSOLUTELY. No better word for it. Great article. Support each other in our decisions and our rights to make them? (what a novel idea!!!) What true feminism is.

    • 5

      Virginia J. Chapman says

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  1. 6

    Stefanie says

    Amen, sister! Having been both a working mom and a SAHM at different points, each one has its challenges. But no matter which you choose (or have chosen for you), motherhood is indeed work. As I used to say as a SAHM when people asked me if I worked: harder than ever, and for no pay.

  2. 7

    Jennifer says

    I feel like Rosen’s words were taken in a way that she did not intend. Granted, she did not do a very good job communicating her intention either. I don’t think she meant to pit working mothers against stay at home mothers. I think her point was that Ann Romney can not understand what is like for women that do not have her means, which is 100% true. She can’t.

    There will not be a “mommy war” if we stand strong and continue to turn the conversation back to the real issues and away from this created one.

    • 8

      shortii311 says

      I disagree. Maybe they have the means NOW, but I’m sure as in any household with children, especially with 5 kids at home, they didn’t start out this way. They worked their way UP from where they STARTED to earn the means they now. Let’s not forget that important part.

      • 9

        Jennifer says

        It is my understanding that Romney has affluent parents. I bet his mother never had to stretch a pot of pinto beans to make sure her kids had enough to eat.

      • 10

        DW says

        I disagree with the disagreement. They have had means for a long, long time. I doubt Ann Romney scrubs her own toilets and washes her own floors or had to worry about rent or food. It doesn’t negate that loving five children and being active with them isn’t work – it is. But Ann Romney likely does not understand the struggles that a typical working mom knows.

        • 11

          Caroline says

          Do you mean to say that because Bill Gate has money, Bill Gate does not understand what people in Africa living with aids are going through? He sure does know that is why he is helping. All these celebrities promoting support for Southern sudan have a lot of money, but does that negate the fact that they don’t understand what these people in south Sudan are going through, hell no. The fact that someone has money does not automatically remove them from what others are going through.So this petty party of Ann Romney does not understand because Romney had affluent parents does not add up. How many kids grew up in well to do home and turn out really bad?

    • 12

      Pauline Gaines says

      I felt 100% the same way — that Rosen was referring to the fact that Ann Romney has had a choice not to work that many of us don’t have. I also find the Romneys to come across as very out-of-touch with the issues most Americans face, something that their money has shield them from.

      • 13

        Caroline says

        The fact that someone has money or is wealthy does not mean they don’t understand what others are going through. The fact that someone is not wealthy or does not have money does not make them expert either in economic issues for women. This is political mis-calculation. The mindset that the rich don’t get it is a terrible mindset to have. They do get it. Most of the time they help much more than the poor will ever be able to do. When was the last time a poor person gave you a job? I desire in my heart to become a job creator. So as a stay home mom, I spend hours learning how to trade from videos on youtube. And now I trade fulltime from home while taking care of my 4 kids. So tomorrow if someone make a statement like this about me, what do you think I should say to them? Ann Romney is right. She made a choice,we need to respect that, money or no money. I am not wealthy yet, but I will get there.

        • 14

          Pauline Gaines says

          I’m really not sure what you mean by “when was the last time a poor person gave you a job?”

          Some rich, like Eleanor Roosevelt and the Kennedys get it (what it’s like for poor people), and work tirelessly to level the playing field. Some rich don’t get it and work to keep power in the hands of a few. I have yet to see anything from the Romneys that leads me to believe they get it.

          • 15

            Caroline says

            1 It does not matter
            2. It does not matter. It will not change Ann Romney, it will not change you. The only change that can ever occur is the changes you make for yourself and your kids if you have kids. It is a choice to work from home, it is a choice to stay home.
            We are all different. I am a single mom with 4 girls. When I put my girls to bed, I spend hours learning how to trade from free youtube videos. Now I trade for a living and work when I want too. Guess what it is a choice and we all have choices to make. Resenting someone because they have what you don’t have will never change your situation. I do believe poverty is a mindset and wealth is a mindset. You want to change it for your kids, there are opportunities out there. If you seek, you will find. Don’t wait for someone to give it to you. Get hold of Robert’s Kiyosaki’s book “rich dad poor dad”. Heck spend sometime on youtube and just listen to the audio copy its free. Someone has recorded and upload it on youtube. Don’t buy the narrative that the rich are evil. But again, poverty is a mindset. Which means you have the power to change it. I read a 14 year old girl just bought a foreclosed home for $12,000. She saved up $6,000. How she could sell things on ebay and with the help of her mother she searched out information on how to succeed on ebay. Tell, in a few years what will happen to this entrepreneurial mind? Sorry, but the millionaires and billionaires accusation I don’t buy it. I aspire to become a millionaire one day. But remember I am a stay home, single mom who decided to search out opportunities. I run my own trading website at the moment and tomorrow, someone will come and accuse me of not paying my fair share after all the sleepless nights working to get my business running? Don’t you see how outrageous this is? Anyway enough. If you ask me, I would rather be rich than poor. I don’t envy anyone. I know that if I set goals and take the necessary actions, God will bring the right people my path to make it in life. This is free video of Robert Kiyosaki teaching on the rules of
            money and how it changed since 1971 and 1974. Listen to it and listen over and over again. Here is the youtube link for you:


  3. 17

    Evin Cooper says

    I don’t know that Hilary Rosen was saying anything about SAHMs vs. working moms… I havent’ read her response to the furor yet but what I took from it is more “What does a rich man’s daughter who became a rich man’s wife know about any struggling woman’s day-to-day circumstances” – It’s like asking Paris Hilton what it’s like to pinch pennies. I could be reading too much into it, of course. Most SAHMs had jobs before they became moms though, so the “never worked a day in her life” comment sounds more like reference to her lifetime of 1%-ness than her SAHM status.

    • 18

      Shirley@motivatedmommyoftwo says

      “What does a rich man’s daughter who became a rich man’s wife know about any struggling woman’s day-to-day circumstances” –
      I really like what you said here, I have to agree that this is the same way I took the comment. I do not think it was about putting stay at home moms down or saying that those of us who work are better moms.

        • 20

          Heather B says

          But, if Ms Rosen had meant that, perhaps she would have, I dunno, said “That’s not what I meant, here’s what I meant instead,” instead of digging in and vehemently attacking over and over again….

          • 21

            Tanya says

            I watched part her interview on CNN and that’s exactly how she explained it. I took her comment to mean, “what does someone who doesn’t have to depend on child care know about the struggles of paying for child care.” I don’t see anything wrong with that statement. I would never assume I understood the trials of a mom who say had children with special needs because I don’t. And therefore I wouldn’t be giving my opinion on whether or not their funding should be cut.

            • 22

              Jill says

              The full context of Hillary’s comments were as follows and although the one sentence is horrible when taken OUT OF CONTEXT, when put into context it makes perfect sense.

              “What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country, saying, ‘Well, you know, my wife [Ann Romney] tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.’ Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said.

              She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future.” Rosen continued.”

              • 23

                Kelly Cloak says

                Ann Romney is a cancer survivor, lives with MS and has raised 5 boys. Perhaps her immediate needs worries were not the same as someone living paycheck to paycheck, but to say that Ann Romney never had to worry about how to feed her kids, how to get them to school, or what their future holds, shows a mindboggling lack of empathy at least. Rosen’s comments were inflammatory, intentionally so, and the firestorm that has followed was foreseeably. The apology seems to say, oh, it’s because she’s rich, not a stay at home mom. Somehow, I’m just as insulted. Money is not an inherent evil. The abiding and accepted strawman set up by the Occupy movement and embraced by the left seems to say that it is, and that is as dangerous a stereotype as hoodies are evil. As moms, we all need to support each other, hold each other up, build a better world. This cannot happen when those in a position to control the dialogue continue to tear us apart and divide us for profit.

                • 24

                  Pauline Gaines says

                  This is about choice. Period. I have not heard Hilary Rosen, or anyone else, attack Ann Romney for being a SAHM or be blase about the fact that she deals gracefully with a chronic illness. What Rosen was rightly shining a light on, as many commmenters on this thread have pointed out, is that Romney has so many more choices that other women — just as deserving as Ann Romney — don’t have. THAT is what needs to change in this country.

                • 25

                  Kelly Cloak says

                  Pauline, I have heard that so many times. My experience tells me, however, that the only choices celebrated are the choices on the left’s agenda. All others will be margainalized and publically mocked. Rosen’s comments on their face mocked a husband seeking the advice of his wife by tearing down his wife and denegrading her choices. If that is modern feminism, or modern liberalism, count me out.

                • 26

                  Pauline Gaines says

                  It’s unfortunate that there is such a divide in this country, or even in this comment thread. No one should feel that they are marginalized or diminished because of their values. You feel that your choices, and those — I am presuming from what you have written — are mocked by liberals in this country. Progressives — of which I am one — feel that their reality is completely overlooked by the right and by corporate America. I still don’t think that modern feminism, as you referred to it, demeans women who are in the position to stay at home with their kids. Feminism is all about expanding the choices of women and women have choices in this day and age largely because of the work of feminists…but that’s a subject for a different blog post.

      • 27

        Caroline says

        Not true. Your struggles may be financial. Have you been through breast cancer? Have you struggle with ms? Please tell me. You know what the fact that you have not struggle with these stuff does not mean that you cannot learn the struggles that this people go through. Have we become a nation that vilified the wealthy just because they are wealthy? It may be a popular fight politically, but don’t you see what the politicians are doing to this nation? Cuba, Venezuela, formal USSR tried this by distributing wealth to everyone equally. Well we all know how the results turn out. USSR is still growing strong financially. Cuba and Venezuela and booming economically. Step back and think. No one will go through the same struggles are you.

  4. 28

    imperfectmomma says

    Yes! Who cares if one person gets dressed and talks to other adults daily about something other than a poop schedule?! Why can’t we all just get along?

  5. 30

    bunny says

    Um… as a multi-millionaire, it’s kinda doubtful that Mrs. Romney raised her kids without the help of nannies. While I agree with the rest of your message, comparing her experience to that of your average mom isn’t quite accurate. (And yeah, many average moms have to hire childcare instead – but they have to worry about how to pay for it. Mrs. Romney? Not so much.)

    • 32

      shorby says

      no nannies. i know it’s inconceivable to some that there are women who do their own mothering and cooking and cleaning and so forth when they can afford not to…but there are. and the romneys are among them. she raised those kids, not a nannie.

      • 33

        bunny says

        1) Source?
        2) Okay, so did she also do all of the housecleaning, the washing of clothing, the preparing of meals? Doubt it.

  6. 35

    Cheryl says

    Here’s to bonding over explosive diarrhea! Oh, and AMEN sister! You just said what I’ve been thinking. Why are moms still doing this crap to other moms? We have enough crap to deal with at home w/ our kids (and their fathers), not to mention the rest of the world. Know what I’m sayin’? Sheesh!

  7. 36

    Eve says

    YES YES YES! I work full-time outside of the home AND I work full-time at home as a mom caring for a crazy two-year-old boy who likes to take off his diaper and smear poop on my hardwood floors. I love both jobs, but seriously, the mom gig is WAY harder than my day job. Plus, we never get time off, despite needing it almost as much as oxygen. Maybe more so.

  8. 37

    Julie @DutchBeingMe says

    As someone who is not a mother, but raised by someone who chose to both stay at home with us *and* (later) go back to work – I completely respect mothers who make these decisions. There are so many different reasons why women choose what kind of work they are doing (whether in their control or not) and whether it is at home or out of the home.

    I could not agree with you more – women need to stop criticizing each other on all of these things and start supporting each other in whatever decisions we make.

    Can I say it again? Scary Mommy for President! :)

  9. 38

    Mommy123 says

    Nice points, but Moms who work are all those things (janitor, nurse, et al), but we have full time jobs with bosses, co-workers, commutes and responsibilities to contend with – THEN get to come home and do everything SAHMs have had all day to do. Just saying.

    • 39

      Joanna says

      I am also a FT work outside the home mom, but I don’t necessarily agree with you. Yes, I still have to wipe butts, wake up at ungodly hours 7 days a week, get up for ever nightmare or drink of water, read stories, do bath, make dinner, pack lunch, and go grocery shopping. BUT…. with two FT working parents, my husband contributes 50%. I think when one parent stays home, the parent who works does a lot less around the house because they feel entitled to the down time. Also, I am not wiping the butt while I am at work. So, I am not sure that I do twice as much work the way you are describing.

      Still, I feel what you are saying. The time our kids are at daycare/with nanny/whatever, is not restful time for us. And the time the quittin’ bell rings – well that’s not the end of our day.

      • 40

        Kim says

        Thank you Joanna! I am a SAHM and I do everything around the house and I am alone with my 3 yr old son Monday-Saturday. I sometimes feel like crying when he wakes up from his nap because I do not know how I am going to entertain him and take care of the household chores for the rest of the day. Not to mention how degrading it can be to ask for an allowance after having a well paid job. I have a friend who works full time and I admire her for being able to do that and fell like an a$$ complaining to her about being tired. So long story short we really need to respect each other. We are all in this together trying to do our best and survive it. Thank you again for your respect and praise of both sides :-)

  10. 41

    J says

    I concur. It really pisses me off that women are constantly being pitted against each other when it comes to motherhood. It is hard nor matter the circumstances.

  11. 42

    Michele says

    This debate isn’t about working moms vs. stay at home moms….we all know that would be comparing apples to oranges!! Ann Romney is technically neither, since she worked neither inside nor outside the home…unless hiring nannies and housekeepers counts as work. She lives far beyond the means of most people, and even those of us fortunate enough to sacrifice some luxuries to be home with our kids aren’t in her league….how can she be compare with a mom who has no choice but to get her ass out and work for a living? She is NOT the mom to use as a role model for most of us.

    • 43

      Pauline Gaines says

      I agree. I think the conversation is about privilege, not the virtues of working or SAHMs. I went from being a wealthy, privileged, married mother of two to a scrambling-to-make-ends-meet divorced working mother of two and the two worlds are in no way comparable. There were so many difficult things I didn’t experience when I had the privileges I had when I was married to a rich person. There were things I just got used to, things money shields you from. It is hard for me to believe that Mrs. Romney isn’t shielded from ordinary women’s stresses as well. Of course, mothers should not be judged on their choice to either work or stay home, but the point is, so many women really don’t have a choice. And that, I think, is what Hilary Rosen was addressing.

      • 44

        Caroline says

        I don’t buy it. How can you say many women don’t have a choice. Yes you do have a choice and don’t let anyone tell that. You do have a choice. I made a choice to learn something that will enable me stay home and take care of my kids without working out of the house. I spend hours learning from free videos on youtube. I give you an example. Go to google and type in “how to”. You will see so many things that people are looking for. If you find anything you are good at that people are looking for, then go ahead a do a little bit of research and start a blog, make a video and give a solution to that problem. Before you know it, people will pay you for your valuable solutions. You may not be where you want to be now, but if you decide to make a change and invest sometime learning something new you could change your financial situation. You can do it as a mother, as a woman. Know this. You have a choice.

  12. 45

    Jennifer Rustgi says

    “What I do know is that pitting stay-at-home-mothers against working moms gains us nothing. So here’s an idea: let’s support one another’s decisions. ”

    Well said!

  13. 46

    Heather says

    Well said! That’s just the sentiment I tried to tweet earlier, but you said it way more eloquently.

  14. 48

    --g says

    Since her oldest son was born in 1970, then the 2nd in 1971, while they were both undergrads, living in a $75 a month apartment, I doubt they had a nanny then. She finished up her degree with 2 kids, a husband in law school, AND pregnant with their 3rd son. To be judgmental without at least looking into the truth is just wrong. She may actually know something about what we go through and you sound snitty and judgmental saying ‘she just had nannies.’ Having been a nanny, I know the mom still does a lot.

    • 49

      Jenny says

      Thank you! :) People really should get their facts straight before making assumptions and sounding so hateful and jealous.

    • 50

      Heather B says

      yup. And even if she did have nannies for, maybe the last couple of kids, it’s not like each of those boys is ten to fifteen years apart. So her second career is political spouse (which is a career in and of itself.), most women these days don’t raise one child without a nanny if they can possibly have one, even if they call the nanny “gramma” or “your sitter is coming today,” instead of “nanny.” I think it’s just crucial to stop defining what it means to work, paid or unpaid, or to mother/nurture, in the home, adoptive, foster,working three jobs, or otherwise. That’s why this sudden firestorm.

    • 51

      Nicole says

      Just for the record, they did not live in a $75 a month apartment. His father was the CEO of American Motors and they went to a private high school. I can pretty much guarantee that they did not live a shabby life while attending their college and postgraduate schools…

      • 52

        --g says

        @Nicole–how do you know they didn’t live in a $75 a month apartment? Were you there? Have you seen their budget from 1970? I didn’t just make it up–it’s on their bios in Wikipedia. I would guess that would count for something other than you just assuming that they didn’t. Some parents don’t pay for everything once their kids get married. Some parents cut their kids off when they get 18 (even if they aren’t married). Some people won’t take their parent’s money and want to make it on their own. Quit with the assumptions!

      • 53

        Bryce says

        Actually, they did live fairly “shabbily” during their college days at BYU, at least by their own report. But that’s not to say that they struggled in any meaningful sense of the word.


        I was born and raised Mormon, and living cheap is kind of part of that culture (one that stayed with me to this day, long after most of my other Mormonesque qualities fell by the wayside). I find it fairly admirable. But it’s one thing to try hard not to dip into money you have, and it’s quite another to not have the money when rent is due. Mitt and Ann have never experienced that side of life.

        • 55

          Nicole says

          Caroline, she made a choice to cash in her husband stocks and live on a mere 60k while he finished up school. I have no problem with her being a SAHM, I have a problem with her comparing herself to the average American mom. She is not an average mom, she is wealthy and privileged, meaning she is out of touch with my normal life. Please don’t let her speak about choices when clearly she had many more options than what is available to most.

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