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The GEM Debate: Yeah, But Is It REALLY Work?

There’s no question that women are certainly playing a critical role in this election cycle and this issue was catapulted into the spotlight again yesterday. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is trying to counter polls that show him as being out of touch with women. In an effort to do that, he talks a bit about his wife of 38 years, Ann, frequently saying he relies on her to tell him about the issues that concern women most (by way of background, Ann Romney was a stay at home mother who raised five boys).

That did not go over well with Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen who made some pretty hot remarks on AC 360 last night.

 

 

Soon after, Rosen took to her Twitter to clarify.


@AnnDRomney I am raising children too. But most young American women HAVE to BOTH earn a living AND raise children. You know that don’t u?

Ann Romney joined Twitter last night to leave her own response.

 

I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.

This argument is frustrating and not even remotely ground-breaking. This is the 2012 political version of the Stay-at-home-Mom versus Work-outside-the-Home debate that has been raging on ever since women first punched a time clock. I talked about it on Anderson not that long ago and frankly, it’s exhausting.

So here’s Good Enough Mother’s take:

First, raising kids is damn hard work. I don’t care if you work outside the home or not, make a million dollars a year or not, the fact is there are things about this job (and yes, though a labor of love, it’s still a job) that are paralyzing in their difficulty. Name one other profession where the stakes are higher, where the potential to leave such an indelible mark on another human being is so great. Go on..I’ll wait.

Having said that, Ann Romney had a choice to stay home, one she mentioned in her second tweet.

I’ll be with @marthamaccallum this morning at 10:40 discussing Hilary Rosen’s comments. All moms are entitled to choose their path.

 

Absolutely! All moms SHOULD be able to choose their own paths, that is right out of the Good Enough Mother playbook. Unfortunately, that is not reality. 60% of US women work outside the home and it’s not a choice for all of them.

I admire Ann Romney for staying at home and raising her boys. That’s awesome and without a doubt hard work. But Ann Romney is also fortunate; she was able to concentrate much of her energy on that task, albeit a big one. She didn’t have to worry about that AND potentially losing her job, what to do when a kid is sick, how to afford after school care, how to make meals stretch until the next paycheck or if there would be money for college and her retirement. Please understand, I am not faulting her; I’m merely stating what is a reality for so many women, the one writing this post included. Every, single one of those things steals sleep from me nightly.

I get what Ann Romney is saying but I LIVE Hilary Rosen’s point. I’m not going to judge Romney and assume that her wealth makes her job as a mother any more difficult than the one I do. But if there’s anything we could give to one another, I would say it’s the gift of understanding. If we want to stop the so-called, “War on Women” how about we, as women, put our weapons down first?

That’s my take, what about you? Do you agree with Hilary Rosen’s point? How about Ann Romney’s take raising kids being hard work? And Good Enough Mother TV Alert.. I’ll be on CNN today at 1pm EST talking about this very issue so tune in!

More from GEM:

Ask The Good Enough Guy: How Do I Fall Back In Love With My Husband?

The GEM Debate: David Beckham’s, Er, Bone Of Contention

Hey Mom! How About You Just.Say.No?

21 Comments

  1. smac

    April 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I understand both sides of the coin. While staying home with your kids is work, it is just not work of the same kind. I think if Mrs. Romney were a stay at home mom who did not have the potential to hire out all of her chores (laundry, cleaning, cooking, picking up dry cleaning, grocery shopping, meeting Dr. appointments, shuttling kids to practice and games, balancing the home budget, etc…) her plight would connect with many women. However I can’t picture her with sweats on cleaning toilets and vacuuming. If Mrs. Romeny is going to win this argument she is going to have to show us her mommy muscle, and connect with the average stay at home mom. Just my opinion.

  2. Cathi

    April 12, 2012 at 11:07 am

    We need to unite as women and not work so hard at tearing each other apart. Hilary Rosen threw the first punch and Ann Romney defended herself. That said, raising children, especially 5 boys is very hard work. Being a mother is the hardest job on the planet but it is the most rewarding job. Watching our children grow into successful independent adults is the most satisfying accomplishment we can experience. I’ve done both. I’ve worked outside the home and been a SAHM. When I left my part time job at school I was done for the day. My job at home was 24/7. Unfortunately not all mothers have the choice as Ann stated however some choose to work outside the home rather than sacrificing extra material possessions over staying at home with their children. There is no right choice. It’s a matter of circumstances and desires.

  3. Terri Bahun

    April 12, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I don’t take either side, because motherhood isn’t a political football.
    What I do believe is that to create productive, healthy children who give back, and show empathy toward their neighbors and who are HAPPY (wow that’s really important) takes a parent(s) who has their eye on the ball, regardless of family income or mom’s choice/need to work outside the house.
    It’s incredibly easy to attack moms in either category. So don’t.

    The proof is in the pudding: Look at this argument by assessing a woman’s children. And keep the politics out of it.

    Thanks, Good Enough Mother. This was a good topic for today:)

  4. Janet

    April 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I think it comes down to the fact that Rosen was saying that Romney does not understand what it is like for the millions of struggling middle class families across the United States. And that’s true. They have no idea. They’re loaded. But again, most political families are loaded. I confess that I love the Obamas but I can bet that when Michelle was pregnant with her second child, she did not have the same middle of the night financial worries that I am having about how on earth I’m going to be able to take a 12 week maternity leave when only 6 weeks is paid and savings is tapped out due to a previous job loss two years ago.

    There’s no argument that being a “good enough” mom – whether you’re one who works outside of the home or stays with the children – is hard work. BUT I really really wish more politicians understand that it’s not just a matter of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps for most American families. We have severe worries when it comes to money and health benefits.

    A close friend of mine is a stay at home mom and her husband has been laid off in the past few years and she freaked out trying to get health coverage for her family. They lived on credit cards for a while. I work outside the home but if my husband were to lose his job, we’d also have to live off of credit cards (but we’d have my health coverage). These are both situations that Ann would not have to face and I think that’s important to remember. If Mitt loses the election, the Romney’s aren’t going to have to go on public assistance and rely on state-funded healthcare for their children.

    I don’t think this has a solution, really. I just get tired of hearing politicians say they know where we’re all coming from and they understand our struggles. You don’t know where we are and you can’t truly understand our struggles. You can try harder and that’s all I wish they’d say. Just be honest “Yes, I’m wealthy. But it would be my job to stand up for those who aren’t and I would do my best to understand their struggles.” But don’t look at me and pre

  5. TM

    April 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I don’t think this is so much a debate between stay at home moms and working moms, as much as it is how we connect to a woman who wants to be our First Lady and the President’s go to for women’s issues. She wasn’t a very public First Lady of Massachusetts, she stayed in the background as many first ladies have done for generations. The question is, are we okay with that in 2012. Our last three first ladies all had careers outside of their marriage. All three were mothers and raised their children too. All three had post graduate degrees and all three have been rather vocal.

    Let’s look at Ann Romny. A mother of five boys, no doubt that is a challenge, but her wealth afforded her the level of help that still lends some validity to Rosen’s comments. Her youngest child is over 30, so she has had plenty of time on her hands for quite a while, yet she continues being a background player. You don’t even hear about her involvement in charitable work or other causes. Being a housewife doesn’t mean you have to be meek, As a woman are you inspired by Ann Romney? Envious maybe, but definitely not inspired and I doubt our daughters would be either. Being a role model is not necessarily a job description for being a First Lady, but the last few we have had, set the bar a bit high its hard to imagine going back to the days when the President’s wives weren’t much more than an accessory.

  6. Michelle

    April 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    So are we knocking Ann Romney because she’s rich???? That’s the vibe I’m getting here. I am NOT rich, by no means. BUT both my husband and I CHOSE for me to stay home and raise our children.
    We live on ONE salary…actually it’s not a salary…he works for himself and it’s been VERY hard lately. But we both feel that this is still best for our children.
    I have worked for Multi-National Companies, and chose to stay home. So am I less credible or worthy of being called a woman????

  7. Rene Syler

    April 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    @ Michelle. Nope. We are not “knocking Ann Romney because she’s rich.” Please re-read this sentence: I’m not going to judge Romney and assume that her wealth makes her job as a mother any more difficult than the one I do. But if there’s anything we could give to one another, I would say it’s the gift of understanding. If we want to stop the so-called, “War on Women” how about we, as women, put our weapons down first? THAT’S the “vibe” I was sending. Thx for your comment.

  8. TM

    April 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Michelle, I don’t think the argument is you are less credible because you chose to stay at home. It is a personal choice that many women would make if they could. I think the problem is when in Ann Romney’s case, trying to compare being a stay at home mom with incredible means to the lives of the average American woman or even average American stay at home mom for that matter. It furthers the impression that the Romney’s are out of touch. This is not to say that wealthy people can’t empathize with those with less and if the Romney’s did that instead of acting like they are one of “us,” then maybe they would get somewhere. I doubt a mother who gets her kids ready for school every morning, cooks, cleans, help with homework, school projects and activities would think the a mother who has staff to do all of those things for her is working hard.

  9. Rene Syler

    April 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    @TM: You highlight the point I made today on CNN and in the blog. Ann Romney, God bless her, had a choice that a lot of women don’t have. As I said on CNN today, raising 5 kids IS hard work. But can you imagine trying to do that, work for an unforgiving boss, worry about losing your job (or find one), paying for kid’s college, your retirement and on and on. Look, no one is knocking her or her husband for being wealthy; hell I’m trying to get there myself. But so many women are NOT fortunate enough to be able to make that decision; it is made for them. That’s all.

  10. Michelle

    April 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Rene and TM I agree that Ann Romney is not the average American woman. I agree with both of your points of view.

    As a SAHM I a get frustrated by this debate. I believe the same as you Rene..we need to uplift one another and make a real effort to understand each woman as they are.

  11. Rene Syler

    April 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    @Michelle: I get it.. as a woman who worked, now works at home, I am frustrated too.. as I said.. it’s not even remotely new territory. The only thing new is that this year it’s political. THX

  12. Really Single

    April 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Hilary doesn’t hate Moms and she knows first hand how hard it is. Ann Romney let Mitt put her out in public as his adviser on “what women think”. Hilary critiqued that role, rightly, because she cannot know the real pain of a mother worried about her job and not being with her kids all day.

    Here’s were I become a heretic. All moms and dads are not heroes. Whether 1% or 99%, parents chose that lifestyle and should live with that choice. As a real single person, I get sick of special privileges for parents. Every ounce of “support” given to parents by the government or the workplace is on the backs of non-parents. This obvious fact goes unrecognized and unappreciated throughout our society.

  13. Rene Syler

    April 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    @Really Single: hmmm, well it looks like this is your first visit here. I do hope you’ll poke around enough to see that we welcome diversity of opinion. We don’t have to agree but we have no problem with people stating a difference of opinion. I agree with some of your statement but not sure that “every ounce of “support” given to parents by the government or the workplace is on the backs of non-parents.” Don’t working parents also pay into the system and are helping out? And yes, not all moms and dads are heroes.

  14. Really Single

    April 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Yes parents pay in but they get back a lot more. Non-parents work OT while parents are on FMLA, leave work for emergencies, etc. without equal payback. That is a fact that goes unmentioned almost always.

    Not this site, but many people and sites are appalled when singles even mention this. Non-parents are treated like pariahs for questioning day care centers at work, etc. Just saying that life is not all about parents and children.

  15. Catherine MacKenzie

    April 12, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I am sad to see this argument and the divisive comments from both angles. I have 38 years experience in the workplace, two married children and five grandchildren. I am an ardent feminist BUT we have all missed the boat if we don’t understand that the women’s movement was to create choice for women. All choices are equally valid, equally worthy of our support and above all should never devide women into camps. We should be way beyond this!

  16. Tiffany T

    April 13, 2012 at 11:34 am

    This is such a crazy, heated debate. I have very strong opinions about it, but I’ll try to reign myself in. 🙂

    First of all, saying that the Romney’s don’t know what it’s like to struggle is false. Mitt Romney made his own way in the world. They lived in a basement apartment throughout college & had their first son before graduating. I did that exact same thing at that exact same college. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. Just because they’re loaded now doesn’t mean they didn’t struggle as a young family like the rest of us. They just happened to turn their luck around with far more success. 🙂

    Additionally, Ann is a breast cancer survivor with MS. Just because she may not struggle with “Where’s the grocery money going to come from this week?”, she’s been given her own battles to fight. She’s a strong lady, and yes, she IS inspiring. Perhaps she does have a meek personality. Meek does not equal weak.

    I had a fabulous career when I met & married my husband. When we had our son, I went back to work part time in the evenings (when he could be home with our boy) so that we could make ends meet through college. When my husband graduated, his job ended (as it was a campus job that he couldn’t keep after graduating), so I had to go back to work full time for a couple of months until we moved out of state for his new job. Ever since his “stay-at-home-dad stint”, he hasn’t once given me grief for a messy house or forgotten errands. Being a SAHM is hard work. It was so much easier for me to go to work all day than to stay home all day, but I truly missed my son while I was at work. It’s a sacrifice either way; it’s just a different kind of sacrifice. Now I’m a full time SAHM & I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Ann CAN relate to the average American woman. You don’t have to be poor to understand the average American in the same way that you don’t have to be a drug addict to understand the nature of addiction. She’s wonderful lady with a good heart who gets out there, speaks to women & tries to stand up for what they want. She’ll make a great First Lady. 🙂

  17. Will Jones

    April 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Tiffany- Wasn’t Romney’s father a multi-millionaire before Mitt was out of high school? I’m not saying he isn’t “self-made” but that kind of backing is going to afford him and his wife a lot of options most of us will never have, as well as a pretty soft spot to land in if they fall on hard times. If they lived in a basement in college, I’m betting it was out of choice, not because his daddy couldn’t have paid for a nice house on the beach for them. By the time he was in college, his dad was in politics, so his name alone was opening doors closed to most of us.

    …And I don’t think you really can understand what it’s like to be poor unless you’ve been there. She’s never NOT had the means or ever had to watch one of her children do without simple because she couldn’t afford to give it to them. There’s desperation in that, and she’ll never experience it. She may read about it, or even think deeply aqbout it, but she’ll never fight to over-come it, so she can’t know the struggle. When she’s dead tired, she can call a nanny in while she goes and takes a nap. When she’s sick, they’ll bring in the best doctors while the tutors help the kids with their homework. I’m not trying to say she isn’t a full-time mom; just that she is much better staffed than the other 99% of moms out there.

  18. Will Jones

    April 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    …oh, and the first lady thing? Yeah, that aint gonna happen.

  19. Tiffany T

    April 14, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Will – Have you ever read that book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”? I actually haven’t read it myself, but I have friends who swear by it. He mentions that kids of wealthy families end up wealthy because their fathers taught them how to get and stay that way. I know… most of us didn’t have that, and yes, it’s easier to take risks when you feel like you’ve got a net (like daddy’s money), but my point was that he wasn’t handed his fortune. He made it himself. He was certainly lucky enough to have grown up in a better home than most of us, but that certainly shouldn’t negate his own personal accomplishments & the road that he had to take to get there. That was my point.

    Sorry, but on the issue of Ann being able to understand the average American or not, we’re going to have to agree to disagree here. Since when was socioeconomic status the ONLY grounds for whether you can relate to someone or not? Michelle Obama comes from affluent circumstances & you don’t hear a single person saying, “Oh, she can’t relate to us. She’s too rich.” If ANY First Lady can relate to us on a personal level, then Ann Romney can too. She’s a woman, just like the rest of us. Her money doesn’t make void her feelings about motherhood or womanhood or anything else. Being able to relate to people isn’t all about how much money or resources or on-call staff you do or don’t have. It’s about getting out there & doing the best you can to help the people who need your help. Ann has the heart & the resources to help others & she’s trying to give back, when all the while, people are tearing down her efforts, saying that her best efforts are worthless simply because she “can’t relate to us” because she isn’t poor. There are many wonderful, big-hearted, affluent women who have served & given of their time & resources to better the lives of others who have less than they do. You can experience adverse circumstances through other people. It IS possible to gain understanding that way.

    These knocks on Ann Romney are just another way to take cheap shots at Mitt & his campaign. It’s really unfortunate that the attacks on the Romneys have turned from religion to the legitimacy of his wife’s feelings & ability to understand other women. I think very highly of the Romneys and the Obamas & I’ll probably be on the political fence about who should get my vote all the way to November. If people were taking the same cheap shots at Michelle, I’d stick up for her just the same. This kind of thing just needs to stop.

    Okay, okay. No more of my two cents. (That was really more like two dollars.)

    …oh, and the First Lady thing? Yeah, it could totally happen. 🙂

  20. Rene Syler

    April 14, 2012 at 11:07 am

    @TiffanyT: It’s really not the ONLY thing we’re talking about. But please, the point is not about money, it’s about what that money afforded them. And like I said, here and on CNN and everywhere else I was asked, having money does not make her any less of a woman or the job she did as a mother any less important. PLEASE know that. But it gave her a choice. That’s all. THX

  21. Will Jones

    April 19, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Tiffany,

    I didn’t say that she couldn’t relate to woman or mothers, I said that she couldn’t relate to poor people and I said that because it’s true. What the Romneys would consider “struggling” is dancing on the beach compared to the quick-sand that most poor people grew up struggling with. Ask me how I know. And that group of people is growing every day

    If you’ve read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” than you’re aware that the book talks about how the rich buy assets which, in turn, make them more wealthy while the middle class buys liabilities which causes them to spend more money to maintain them. In the case of rich versus middle class, it’s a lack of financial education which leads to poor financial decisions which causes the middle class to stay in the middle class. BUT, if you notice, the poor and very poor are barely discussed by Kiyosaki because their income barely covers the cost of their output, and often times doesn’t cover it at all. They cannot choose to buy assets or liabilities; they can afford to buy necessities… if they’re lucky. Not only do the very poor not have the education to pass on to their children; they don’t have the financial stability to help move them forward. When parents are poor, they live where poor people live, which almost always means less than adequate schools, fewer opportunities for employment, etc, etc. And if you read the Cash Flow Quadrant (also by kiyosaki) you know that the children of the poor families will be lucky to make it into the left side, employee’s quadrant… much less the right side as business owners or investors, and thatr the economy is designed to keep it that way in order to provide enough workers to fill America’s needs. Romney may have run the race and won, but he had a head start because of his father’s wealth and social standing, and neither of his legs was shackled by lack of financial education or lack of financial backing. I think this has given him a narrow-minded view on many issues facing most American families today. Of course, that’s all just my opinion.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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