Stay-at-home moms work, but they’re also fortunate [UPDATED]Published 8:15am Monday, April 16, 2012 Updated 10:17am Monday, April 16, 2012
There has been some hub-bub about a comment from a Democrat how Anne Romney, the wife of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has “never worked a day in her life.” Romney chose to stay at home to raise the couple’s five sons.
My opinion on this claim is, of course, that she has done work, but her situation is also clearly a luxury these days.
Clearly, raising children is hard work. I can attest to that having only one child and a spouse who also works full-time (plus). Any parent knows very well that, when you drop your kids off at a day care, you are simply going to a different kind of work. Especially in the early years when spouse was out of town, there were days when, after getting my daughter out of bed, brushed her teeth, got her dressed and fed, and dropped her off at day care, when I arrived at work and sat in my office chair, I breathed a sigh of relief, having warm feelings about my day care provider for handling my own child with the many others during the day.
I looked up the ages of the Romney’s children, and there were several period when Anne Romney had two pre-school age children in her house, and possibly one period with three. If Romney, like many other stay-at-home moms, was truly on her own, then yes, there’s no questioning that she did indeed work.
But I don’t know if she didn’t have help. I know the Romneys are rich now (net worth estimated at up to $250 million), and that his dad was rich (an automobile executive). But Romney was going to law school when their three oldest children were not yet in school. If she had a full-time nanny and a housekeeper to help her the whole time, then I’m going to go on record and say claims that Anne Romney never worked a day in her life may be valid.
That said, I think there’s clearly a case to be made that, even if Anne Romney didn’t have a nanny in the 1970s, the fact that she could stay at home while her husband attended law school shows that having a wealthy father gave Romney advantages most of us don’t have.
I also think that raising and teaching children are undervalued jobs. Clearly, day care providers, nannies and teachers aren’t making millions these days, and they certainly aren’t doing such jobs for the money. The problem is, while we would want to pay more to raise our children, our economic system simply doesn’t allow for it.
The same economic system that gave Romney the opportunity to make a quarter of a billion dollars does not allow for mothers (or fathers) to stay at home with children unless their spouses have really good jobs, and has those in the child care industry scraping to get by.
It’s sad, and it’s not fair, but it’s the way it is.
Clearly, it was unfair and over the top to say that Anne Romney never worked a day in her life. But it does bring up a valid point – stay-at-home moms, and their spouses, should feel fortunate to have such an opportunity. I think most of us would like to stay home to raise our kids. It’s just not feasible.
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I wanted to wish long-time reporter Tom Hintgen a happy retirement. Hintgen worked here in the 1970s (long before I was around), worked at Otter Tail Power for many years, and came back to The Journal full-time six years ago. While readers will still be able to read his column every week, we’ll miss seeing him around the office.
Anyway, Tom was always appreciated by our readers, and I know they’ll miss not having as much of his work to read.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s Publisher. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org