As the controversy over a Democratic strategist’s comment this week that Ann Romney, the wife of GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney and a mother to five boys, “has never worked a day in her life” continues to swirl, I think the point Hilary Rosen may have been trying to make was completely lost.
For anyone who has kids, we all know parenting is the hardest job. And yes, it’s a job. It’s demanding, unrelenting, emotional, stressful and the most important thing you’ll ever do.
But I don’t think the debate should’ve ever centered on working mothers versus stay-at-home ones because there is no right answer. Stay-at-home moms are on the clock 24-7 and it’s hard work. Working mothers, meanwhile, have to juggle the incredible demands of work and home when there never seems to be enough time to both. Both are hard in different ways.
The point Hilary Rosen seemed to be trying to make — albeit poorly — wasn’t whether Ann Romney has ever had a job. The larger issue is whether Ann Romney has ever faced the economic challenges not just women, but many middle class families, grapple with every day. Her husband’s net worth is estimated to be between $150 to $200 million, according to statements he’s made on the campaign trail. It’s probably fair to say the Romneys have never had to worry about making a paycheck stretch until the next one or saving for their sons’ college education or surging gas prices.
As a mom who has worked part-time since my daughter was a baby, I feel like I’ve experienced things from both vantage points. I know how hard it is to stay at home with your kids all day. There are always toys to be picked up, groceries to be bought, laundry to be folded, and the list goes on and on. In between it all, I’m supposed to be molding these two little people into kind, loving, productive human beings. That’s hard work.
But I also know what it’s like to have to juggle work and parenting. My 4-year-old and two-year-old don’t care if I worked until midnight the night before and they wake up at 7. And just because one of them is sick or has an event at school doesn’t mean I can skirt work. It’s a constant juggling act.
Still, I hate the idea of women being pitted against one another about who’s job is harder, or that we’d even debate whether parenting is work. Is it incredibly fulfilling work? Yes, but it’s still work. This country has far bigger issues to tackle. All moms work hard whether they have jobs outside the home or not. End of story.