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The Problem With Stay-At-Home Moms

My wife went with some friends this weekend to see the movie, Moms’ Night Out.  She enjoyed the movie, but as a stay-at-home mom, I think she simply enjoyed the night out more.

This is the synopsis of the movie:

All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and fun – a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation, and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours … what could go wrong?

I try my hardest to provide Amanda to have time away to do things she enjoys.  She loves her job, but it is a very demanding job.

Being a homemaker is one of the most thankless jobs anyone can have.

While many people have loved the movie and can relate to it, it seems to have a different impact on others.  One report stated:

Scores of Hollywood movie critics have condemned the movie, which opened last Friday, taking particular issue with the notion of stay-at-home moms.

Christy Lemire of called “Mom’s Night Out” “depressingly regressive and borderline dangerous,” adding that it “peddles archaic notions of gender roles.”

Newsday critic Rafer Guzman called it “unintentionally grotesque” and “worthy of damnation.”

The Globe and Mail’s Kate Taylor pondered why the central character, Allyson (portrayed by Sarah Drew), “doesn’t just hire a nanny, find a job and get out of the house.” writer Inkoo Kang called both the movie and Allyson “anti-feminist” and said her “lack of a profession consigns the character into Eisenhower-esque irrelevance.”

And Neil Genzlingermay of the New York Times concluded that Allyson is “an insult to the millions of women who have much more to deal with.”

But are these reviews a punch-in-the-face to the millions of women who stay at home to raise their families?

The most recent data from the Census Bureau shows that the number of stay-at-home moms has increased in the U.S.; in 2013, it was reported to stand at around 5 million. Twenty-four percent of married-couple families with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mom, up from 21 percent in 2000.

I am not here to discuss the quality of the movie.  I have not seen it and cannot give a fair evaluation.

I am here to discuss the irony attached to those statements above.  A basic understanding of the fight for women’s rights should remove this conversation altogether.

Women’s Rights

The battle for women’s rights in this country (which was a very good battle that needed to be fought) sought to provide women the same freedoms that men had.  It was a fight for the freedom to vote, to be employed in whatever vocation they so desired, and to be paid fairly and equally as a man would be paid for the same job.

While there are still battles to be fought, the war has been won on the side of equality.  Are there abuses?  Are there unfair stereotypes?  Is there still unjust treatment?  Sure, but it is nowhere as bad as it used to be.

The blatant irony of women being disgusted by the Moms’ Night Out movie is that they are denying certain women the freedom for which they fought.

Think about it: women fought hard not necessarily for the ability to become doctors or lawyers or CEOs.  The fight was for women to work at whatever job they so desired.  The fight was for them to get paid at a salary for which they approved.  The fight was to obtain the freedom that they deserved.

And guess what?  Stay-at-home moms have that freedom, and they aren’t complaining.  It’s their choice.

When you ridicule a talented, smart, gifted, passionate, hard-working woman just because she has chosen to use her 9-5 at a job that you wouldn’t want to do (or believe that you couldn’t do) actually does more to hurt women’s right than it does to help them.

It’s a shame for all the progress that we have made in this country in the area of women’s rights that women would tear down other women for the choice and passionate commitment to a job that they feel called to and for which they love.  What blatant disregard for the progress we have made when we demean a woman and her free choice to work at this job.

The Only Unacceptable Job for a Woman

Notice no one is upset that women want to work in other vocations – it is simply this particular job that disgusts them.

No one is demeaning the woman who uses her body to sell goods for a corporation.  No one is blasting the female workers who are neglecting their husbands and children so they can climb the corporate ladder.  No one is criticizing the actress being filmed performing intimate acts with a man with whom she has no relationship.

Our country has turned its back on women who desire to work relentlessly at making one’s home a refuge for those she loves the most.

You want to know what is wrong with America?  Look no further!

It is purely a travesty when we humiliate, disregard, and criticize the women that are nurturing children not because they have to but because they get to.

Before anyone tramples me, I know that everyone can’t stay-at-home.  That’s not the point I am making.  I am trying to give credit to my wife and 5 million other women who have made countless sacrifices to do an incredible work that few appreciate.  Honestly, I would be scared if they all didn’t show up for their job today!  Not just for what that would mean for the home but for the fabric of our society.

I do not believe every woman needs to stay at home or even can stay at home, but I do believe that those who have made that choice deserve the respect of those who haven’t.

Why Moms Stay-At-Home

My wife and her friends who viewed that movie did not choose their vocation carelessly.  They are not lazy.  They are not incompetent.  They were not bad at their previous jobs.  Quite the opposite, actually.  These ladies are some of the most gifted, educated, and hard-working women I have ever known.

I can still remember the day we cleaned out Amanda’s classroom.  There is a picture that makes me tear up every time I see it as the two of us and a 2-month-old baby packed up boxes in her music portable outside of the elementary school where she taught.  We never anticipated her staying at home with our firstborn, and yet we felt compelled to otherwise.  It was hard.  She walked away from a job she loved.  She was finally getting the room and the equipment that she had been promised and that she had dreamed of for years.  And with all these things finally coming together, she walked away.

She’s not alone.  These women accompanying her that night (and many other homemakers that I know) are some of the best you can find!

These women were at the top of their classes.  They graduated with honors.  They were presidents of organizations.  They were winners of accolades and deserving of promotions, and yet, they walked away.  Not because a tyrant of a husband forced them.  Not because they felt pressure to (quite the opposite in most situations).  Not because they wanted to lie around the house all day (which is a laughingstock to me).

They walked away from very good, promising, and rewarding careers for another one for which they felt called.

Like every other person, they go to work some days and dream of spending their time doing something else.  There are rewarding days, but they are scattered among many discouraging and challenging days.  And yet, they continue to do it because they feel called to do it.  While the reasonings vary, they feel called to it.  And they have that freedom.  And they deserve that freedom.  And who are you to question them on that?  You don’t have that “right.”  It’s their right.

Their education is reaping benefits that aren’t as easy to graph as other work endeavors.  Their time spent in daily tasks is an endless cycle of monotony some days.  They never officially “clock out” of their job.  Even when they try to relax at home, they are staring at their workplace.  They will never ever be shown the gratitude that is due them.  And there is not a corporate budget that I know of that could afford the job that they do.

And yet they still showed up for work this morning.

So, as one American to another, will you leave stay-at-home moms alone?   Let them do their job.

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