A Twitter friend and real-life sweet hearted bad-a (I'm looking at you, Ernie) posted a link that lit a fire under my little tweetin' behind. (And spurred an incredibly cathartic blog post some weeks later.)
The WaPo posted an article on October 1st debunking the "opt-out revolution."
Haven't heard of the "opt-out" controversy? Yes you have. It is part of the ongoing, forever-and-ever-amen "debate" among women, childless or child full, about whether tis nobler to stay home and raise your own children (possibly derailing your own career and/or sense of self), or forge ahead through the glass ceiling (possibly missing out on the best years of life- both yours and your child's).
"The notion of an opt-out revolution took shape in 2003, when New York Times
writer Lisa Belkin coined the term to describe the choices made by a group of
high-achieving Princeton women who left the fast track after they had children."
The article also says that new statistics "show that stay-at-home mothers tend to be younger and less educated, with lower family incomes. They are more likely than other mothers to be Hispanic or foreign-born."
I bristled immediately. Young. Dumb. Poor. Foreign. Technically, I'm three-quarters of that statistical pie.
I'm 26. I have three kids. I had them in rapid succession. I had the first when I was 20. I'm young.
I graduated high school. I went to college for a year. I took a year off. I got pregnant. I have yet to return. I'm dumb.
My husband's job is about six notches above factory work. He earns (much)less than 50K a year. He is our sole source of income. I'm poor.
Foreign; not so much. I've got the WASP thing going for me. Except, I'm more of a WIP (white Irish Protestant)
I got all kinds of irritated.
I love being a young mother! I'm putting in my time, and when my last baby leaves the house (Lord willin'), I'll be 43! When my dad was 43, I (his firstborn) was 12. By the time I'm over the hill, I'll have already done the bulk of my child rearing. I'll be packing their bags, giving them the Roots and Wings and Call Your Mother and Wear Condoms speech.
I admit to falling squarely in the center of the "uneducated" quadrant. I excelled in elem/jr high, and coasted through high school. I never studied; I never had to. I would have done the same my freshman year of college, if I hadn't been drunk or napping most of the time. I screwed up royally. I worked my butt off the next year in order to pay for what was supposed to have been the next year of school, only to get myself knocked up. But to me, "uneducated" pretty much equals PWT.
I know, uneducated does not mean stooopid. Uneducated means I'm without a diploma. But, what I lack in formal education, sister I make up for in Life Experience. There are few baby-related subjects on which I'm not an expert. I know my way around a power tool. I can whip up a mean cheese dip. Uh-huh. That's right.
I love to read. I love to think. I love to debate, to listen, to learn. I am not uneducated; I just don't have my degree in anything but Wife Being and Diaper Changing. And that's fine. For now.
And the poor thing? Well. I'll just let that be. Because we aren't poor. We live in a cozy, comfortable, filled-with-love cookie cutter house in a cookie cutter neighborhood. We drive two (fairly)new cars; both paid off. Our children are never without food. Or books. Or toilet paper. I might have to wait a few paychecks before buying a much needed new bra, but... it's part of the price my husband and I have chosen to pay in order for me to be the one who raises our kids.
So yeah, I bristled. I got irritated. Because, I want to be above the statistics. I want them not apply. I want to be home; teaching and preaching to my kids. I want to be the one who kisses boo-boos and wipes booties. I want to know exactly what they put in their mouths, and how long they (pretend to) take naps. I want to know what is being said to them, and what they say in response. I don't want a piece of paper at the end of every day saying, "The Bunny had a great day!" I want to rest in the knowledge that her day was great. (Or that it was crappy, she cried all day, she threw peas everywhere and she smeared diaper doo on her crib sheets.)
But, I'm not above the statistics. For me, there is truth in saying,
"For many women who stay home, low earnings and high child-care costs are
part of the decision, she said. "Women with less education and fewer job
opportunities were always more likely to withdraw or not be in the labor
...because, yes; what I could make (remember, I'm uneducated) against what I'd pay in child-care would not make one working day worth it. Not to me. Not to my husband, and not to our kids.
So I'm home. Young. Dumb. And Poor. And loving every exhausting, exhilarating, pee-stained, kiss-filled day.
Because it is so easy to fall into the "who's the better mom?" trap; I'll say it now.... I have huge respect and am in big-time awe of working mothers. I can barely keep my ship upright, I can't imagine how I'd navigate the treacherous waters (pitiful metaphor alert) of working full time out of the house, and coming home to continue full time work. Mothers, working or at home, don't get time off. We don't get paid nurses' wages, or chauffeur's tips. We don't receive praise for number of cupcakes baked. We don't do it to make ourselves look better (OK, maybe some women do). We do it out of sheer, stifling, break-your-heart-it's-so-breathtakingly-beautiful love.