The Brutal Truth about Working Moms

posted in: Feminism, Motherhood 4

Me with baby Pip

Here it is. All moms work and mother. Some moms get paid for their work. However, the mothering work is invisible and unpaid. The age old debate about working vs. stay at home mom is old. But it will never die because our culture is so slow to change and fix the real issue. The issue is that mothers don’t really have the choice to parent their preschoolers and then successfully slide back into their career. Mothers know that if they leave their career for the first 4 years of their babies’ lives, they will have no career to go back to. This is what needs to change.

French feminist and philosopher Elisabeth Badinter’s latest book, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women promotes this age old debate; suggesting that by encouraging women to act like the mammals they are, puts them back to pre-feminist movement days. No, denying our sexual differences puts us way back. Believing that the only true feminism lies in denying ones’ feminity puts us way back. Women have the wombs and the breasts. Like it or not, in mammalian creatures, the females do the majority of physical care of their babies because of these sex differences. Thus, to ignore the fact it is the woman who is pregnant, gives birth and breast feeds, and promote the male as an equal parent in these roles, is ludicrous. Men have major roles in parenting but they cannot give birth and breastfeed and thus women must be supported by our society during these years. Support means parenting, financial and career support. A culture that supports women for who they are is a visionary society. 

I live in a patriarchal society. Most of the earth today is made up of patriarchal societies. I believe this is a gross imbalance that has led to global violence and an imbalance in the division of earth’s resources. But it is the truth. As a North American, my culture is dominated by a European patriarchal ideology that arrived on its shores 500 years ago.

Thus, mothering is devalued in our culture as it is simply womens’ work and women are devalued, so there it is. To deny the obvious only insults the women on this planet.

Is it right that women believe they cannot raise their children themselves for the first 4 years of their child’s life? The reality for most women is that society has made the consequences of being a stay-at home-mom for the child’s preschool years too dire.

Dire because the woman has no income during that time and our government won’t allow her to “income split” with her partner if she stays home with the children. Also, she is not offered any type of government supplemental income for this most important profession.

Dire because if she leaves her “other” profession for any period of time greater than a few months to a year–she will not have a position to come back to.

Dire because if she tires to get back into the work force after her children are in school, no employer values her “raising my children” work that she has been doing as any great contribution to any field.

Dire because institutions will hire a twenty-something childless ‘new to the work force’ over an older woman with children who is also ‘new to the work force.

Dire because there are no incentives for employers to hire moms returning to the work force.

Dire because if a woman leaves her profession for several years, she is often required to rewrite all of the national/provincial exams again, in order to be allowed to practice her profession again.

DIRE because all employment standards for hiring have been written for men based on an outdated man’s work life. The career model must be changed. It must evolve to afford parents the same access  to building a career that the childless are afforded.

ALL parents are being cheated. It is time stay-at-home parents are given the respect they deserve and bridges are built by governments to help them afford to stay at home and raise their children. As well, bridges built to help them gain access to the work force again without extreme penalties and prejudice.

Women do notreally have the choice to stay at home and raise their babies. They instead have the choice to sacrifice their career and an income and stay at home and raise their babies knowing they risk never getting back into the work force (or their chosen profession) again.

As a woman, mother, sister, daughter, wife, and worker, I know that if women really had the choice to stay home with their babies for the first four years, most women would.

To the women who decide to stay-at-home for their children’s first 4 years (and beyond), humanity must honour you. You have valued the word’s greatest profession and taken great risks to remain in that profession despite living in a culture and society that does very little to support it.

4 Responses

  1. Unknown
    | Reply

    Good one Melissa!

  2. Mix Hart
    | Reply

    Thank-you U.

  3. The Drinkwaters
    | Reply

    Hear, hear! Well said! One of my favorite posts by you so far!

  4. Mix Hart
    | Reply

    Thanks J.

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