Enough of the Mommy Wars. And I'm up to here with the so-called War on Women and soccer moms and any label politicians, with their Machiavellian marketing schemes, dreamed up to grab my attention.
I don't want to be reduced to a catchphrase. Yet decades after women entered the workforce en masse, years after an elite group began knocking on the glass ceiling, the issue of where mothers "belong" is back in the spotlight.
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen set off the latest firestorm in an appearance on CNN. Arguing that it was wrong for Mitt Romney to use his wife as a gage of women's economic struggles, Rosen said that Ann Romney "has never actually worked a day in her life."
Uh-oh. Them are fighting words.
Ann Romney raised five boys and was a governor's wife, a non-elected position that nonetheless carries its share of obligations. Anyone who has spent time around kids also understands that no job is more demanding, no work is more stressful, no schedule longer than that of keeping home and hearth for a large family.
I know. As a mother of four sons and a daughter, a mother who has worked part-time, full-time and also stayed at home, I can state with utmost conviction that the hardest task I've ever undertaken was raising my children. It's a round-the-clock profession (ever notice a child's fever always spikes at night?) -- an occupation that brings few perks, almost no accolades and even less respect.
You can never, ever retire from it. Yet the consequences of shirking those job duties are monumental and affect society more than ... well, more than a missed deadline or a misspelled name. Journalism can provide a voice for the downtrodden, but molding a human being is God's work.
No wonder Rosen's words unleashed a verbal fusillade. Conservative pundits have attacked her for attacking Ann Romney. Liberals have backpedaled and pointed to Romney's less-than-impressive record on women's issues.
But all that hot air obscures what truly matters, the great truth that no feminist revolution has managed to change: Choice is a matter of economics, of whom you marry, where you live and how much you can do without.
Ann Romney had a choice to stay home with her children, but many young women I know cannot afford that luxury. As wages have stagnated and the middle class has shrunk, a woman's income is needed to help support her family -- or it can be the family's sole support. Choice -- like safe neighborhoods, good public schools and favorable public policy -- is reserved for the fortunate few.
So what do today's mothers do when their hearts are one place and their brains elsewhere? What we've always done. We adapt. We triage. We make decisions based on our children's needs, demanding flexibility, recruiting support from friends and family, launching home-based businesses, setting up co-op babysitting services, transitioning into a fuller work schedule as our children grow up.
And we juggle; we always juggle.
Mommy wars? Not that again. The mothers I know are too busy checking homework, ferrying children to lessons, sitting at the pediatrician's office and hoping for more than six hours of sleep to worry about a politically inspired, media-fueled battle that demeans us.
(Ana Veciana-Suarez is a family columnist for The Miami Herald. Write to her at The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132, or send e-mail to aveciana(at)herald.com.)
Mommy wars: It comes down to economics
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