It’s an old argument, and one that gets rehashed over and over — is staying at home to raise kids a job, or is it a privilege? It’s the question most central to the so-called “Mommy Wars,” where moms who work outside of the home vigorously defend their own choices, and moms who choose to stay home with their children do the same.
However, no matter what side of the “Mommy Wars” most women find themselves on, most agree on one fundamental truth: Being a parent is hard, no matter how it’s approached.
But writer Liz Pardue-Schultz fired off what many see as loud, clear shots in the Mommy Wars by writing an article called “Being A Stay-At-Home Mother Is Not A Job.” Originally posted in the aptly-titled “Unpopular Opinion” section on the site xoJane, it was soon picked up by TIME, and now has the parenting community in an uproar.
The article starts out almost conciliatory in tone, explaining that the author herself had been a stay-at-home mom to her daughter for five years. She also explains that she understands the need for parents who do stay at home to validate their choice, that they often feel belittled for what others see as a lack of contribution to society, and states that there is no need for that.
But Pardue-Schultz, despite claiming to understand where many stay-at-home parents come from, then proceeded to claim that raising a child is not a job, and fury has broken out over not just her claims, but the way she makes them.
“Being a stay-at-home mother to your own kids is not a ‘job,’ no matter how difficult it is or how hard we work. Period. Getting to do nothing but raise a person you opted to bring into the world is a privilege, and calling it anything else is ignorant and condescending.”
She does make an attempt to soften the blow, stating that “staying at home and taking care of people in lieu of working for wages is a valued lifestyle,” but she quickly points out that it is not a job or a career, adding, “people who retire early to care for their elderly parents don’t suddenly tell everyone they’ve gone into the health care profession. Choosing to care for your own small child is no different.”
She then moves on to what she refers to as the “unabashed martyrdom” of stay-at-home moms, stating that she was “astounded by how many women reveled in bemoaning our apparently torturous conditions,” and adding that the whining is “belittling” to the whole parenting community, and that she has come to loathe the phrase “Mothering is the hardest job in the world!” She claims that those who don’t claim that it is the hardest job in the world are those who “recognize that the stay-at-home lifestyle is an incredible freedom they were in no way obligated to participate in, or are actually working to support the children they decided to contribute to society.”
And just in case her point wasn’t clear enough, she had a final piece to say in order to complete her unabashed volleys at stay-at-home parents who choose to see their choice as a job.
“No, Stay-at-Home-Mothers, choosing to create your own little person upon whom you’ll spend all your time and energy is a hobby. It is a time-consuming, sanity-deteriorating, life-altering hobby — a lot like a heroin addiction, but with more Thirty-One bags. Whether you call it a ‘blessing’ or a ‘privilege,’ the fact remains that having someone else foot the bill for a lifestyle that only benefits you and your close family is by no means a ‘job.'”
“Have some self-respect, own up to your decision, and call it what it is: a lifestyle that is hard but definitely worth the struggle to you. The people out there who actually have jobs will appreciate you much more if you’re not going around whining about a way of life that is most parents’ dream.”
Even those who agree with the idea that staying at home is more of a luxury or a privilege than a job have taken offense to the tone of the article, with one reader stating, “I’m not saying that her opinion isn’t valid, but the entire tone of this article is belittling, antagonistic, and unsympathetic, and yes, whiny.”
Others, however, applaud the author’s tone, with one reader calling it a “needed dose of real talk about privilege and a blunt, but needed, perspective on being a stay at home mom.”
One reader stated simply that she does refer to staying at home as a job, and explained, “I don’t call it my job because I think of it as a career. It’s my job because of division of labor in the household. My husband’s job is to make money for the family, mine is to stay home and raise the kids, keep the household running and clean, and homeschool the kids.”
What do you think? Is staying at home an actual job, regardless of the lack of salary, or is it a privilege, even when taking into account the financial sacrifices many families make in order to have a parent at home?
One group of women is frankly sick of the so-called Mommy Wars, and have published an incredible photo series to help end it. To view the inspirational photos and read their messages, click here.
[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]