Sometimes you read a really good book that keeps you turning the pages and just leaves your “me-time” space filled. You don’t want it to end, and every page is a treat. I recently read a book club book that made me feel the exact opposite. More like I wanted to tear up each page and burn it in the fireplace. This particular book brought up a lot of the feelings I have toward people who discount staying home with children and the different lifestyle that entails.
The book, The Feminine Mistake, is based on the premise that women who “opt out” of full-time careers to raise children are giving up their financial security and becoming completely dependent on husbands who are almost certain to either drop dead or leave their wives for younger women. That is barely an exaggeration. She is so certain her life-changing research will shame stay-at-home moms into returning to their high-powered, 60-hr work weeks in law firms, hospitals, and wall-street brokerages that she spends 300 pages doling out skewed facts and “research” conducted with very wealthy mothers in Connecticut.
These moms, she says, these poor,
bovine morons women opted out of their careers because it’s “easier” to stay home with kids, and women don’t want to have to put the work into work. They stay home and then leave their kids with nannies so they can take tennis lessons and get manicures. On the other hand, the “brilliant” women who do stay in their careers realize that it’s delusional to think you can raise your own kids any better than a good nanny can. “You’re not irreplaceable,” she tells us.
Now, why did this make me so upset? Is it because I’m a stay-at-home mom (really, I’m a work-at-home mom, but that’s another story) who’s never taken a tennis lesson in her life and is lucky to get time to paint her own nails? Possibly. It’s also really angering because it devalues the women who make educated choices to stay home with their children when they’re young. And let’s get one thing very, very straight, Ms. Leslie Bennets: staying home with kids is pretty much the hardest thing I’ve ever done rather than the easy way out of working.
There’s another whole post in here about the job description of a stay at home mom, especially one with little kids. I’ll save that for another week. This week I’m just going to hope that my husband doesn’t leave me for any of his mostly-male coworkers. I’ll try to take some time out from my tennis lesson next week to find out how hard my nanny works with my two- and five-year old so I can fill you all in on the difficulties of raising children!
Except that I’m the nanny, the chef, and the nurse at my house, and if you’re reading a parenting blog, you probably already know the difficulties of raising children. Either way, I recommend this book if you’re looking to rile yourself up and light a fire in your house. Just make sure you’re secure in your stay-at-home choice before you open it up, because the author is wicked enough to make the strongest sahm waver.