Motherhood Is Not Sainthood
Conservative presidential contender and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said that he gets reports about what women want from his wife Ann Romney and Ann Romney says that women worry primarily about the economy. In a roundabout response to that statement, liberal CNN commentator Hillary Rosen made the statement that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life. And the political fireworks followed immediately. You would have thought Ms. Rosen had spent the last three days using her television appearances to call Ms. Romney a slut.
What Ms. Rosen probably should have said was that Ms. Romney has never spent a day in her life outside the home earning a living. She didn’t have to. She had a husband who was comfortably worth nine figures. Mr. Romney estimated his personal worth somewhere in the neighborhood between a quarter and a third of a billion dollars. With that kind of dough to make a family budget I’d stay home at home too. Let somebody else run that rat race if they want but I’d stay at home and raise my kids with the help of my maids, cooks, chauffeurs, gardeners, and all the other people I pay to help keep my two mansions, one on the east coast and one on the west coast, together. And let’s not forget all the people that helped her keep things together at that third home called the Governor’s mansion. That kind of life doesn’t sound all that hard!
I’m not saying that Mitt and Ann Romney had it easy. I’m sure they had difficult times in their life. When one of their five or so boys was seriously sick or injured I’m sure they responded to the stress of that situation with the same worry and anxiety of many parents. That would have been hard. But one thing that many parents don’t have is the resources that come from having a quarter billion dollars in the bank to help make sure the family has everything needed to assure quick recovery. Ms. Romney may not have had it easy, but she had it a lot easier than a lot of people who have to go through the same type of situation or other stressful situations.
In the rush to condemn Ms. Rosen’s statements, people have said that every mother works hard and every woman deserves the respect of others. And that’s true to an extent. Many women do work hard to raise their family and/or to work outside the home. But for many women who have to make the choice to stay at home or to go to work, the choice made is one that is often thrust upon them out of necessity and not because they have the luxury of having options. For many families, the mother stays at home to raise the family because the cost of daycare is simply too high and unaffordable. For other families, the mother has to work and raise the kids because the family needs the income. The number of women who are making the choice between the two worlds simply because they weighed their options and decided on one instead of the other are truly a fortunate but tiny slice of the whole pie.
Now, it might be just me, but I really don’t think being a mom is an automatic pass to sainthood. Maria Antoinette had a few kids. I don’t think that information helped her out when somebody was deciding whether or not she was going to face the guillotine. And a lot of people may not remember that on Gilligan’s Island, Lovey was the wife of Thurston Howell III (hard to believe but he was not modeled after Mitt Romney I’m sure) and the mother of Thurston Howell IV. Who thought she worked hard? Casey Anthony was a mother who got drunk and partied while her little girl’s body rotted in a ditch under a mound of snow. I seriously doubt if “hard worker” is the first thing people think of when they think of these women.
Please note for the record that I am not trying to say that Ann Romney is a bad mother. I’m sure she’s a wonderful mom who would do her best for her children. But for anyone to say that Ms. Romney can testify on what is and what’s not important for all or the majority of women in the country, I find that hard to believe. I’m sure she’s a wonderful representative for all the women with multiple mansions that never worked outside of the home to earn a living and yet have king’s treasure as a piggy bank. I’m sure that’s her circle and she would be an excellent weathervane to indicate what those women think
But there are a lot of women that Ms. Romney cannot speak for. I know she can’t speak for my mom who was busy raising ten black children and went to work as a nurse. I know she can’t speak for my life partner who stays at home to raise my son and help him through his issues. I know Ms. Romney can’t speak for my sisters, my aunts or any of the women from my family. I know the issues that these women face are nothing like what Ann Romney faces and vice versa.
At least I think that’s what Ms. Rosen was trying to say. She obviously did not use the best words to say it. And now, people want to point a damning finger at all liberals and tie Ms. Rosen back to President Barack Obama. But just like Ms. Romney doesn’t speak for all women, Ms. Rosen doesn’t speak for all liberals.
But I think it’s important to note what David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s chief campaign strategist for his current 2012 bid for the White House, said on the matter when he was prompted by a CNN reporter to comment on Ms. Rosen’s statements. Ms. Rosen doesn’t work for Mr. Obama or anyone or organization that represents the Democratic Party. She actually works for CNN. Whatever she says is more an indication of how CNN thinks.