Monday, October 25, 2004

In defense of the stay-at-home mom

John Kerry today is saying he loves his wife's outspokenness, and that Teresa Heinz Kerry just "misspoke" when she said Laura Bush had probably never had a "real job."

Hey, wait just a minute--any woman who is raising children has a REAL JOB.

I've worked outside the home for much of my married life--although when my children were small, I only worked a few hours a day--and I've often been faintly envious of stay-at-home moms. I think I may have sometimes labored under the misconception that these women could afford to stay home because their husbands had such nice fat paychecks, they could live quite comfortably without the extra income.

I, on the other hand, had to work outside the home if my family was to keep body and soul together and food on the table.

What a blanket generalization! I've since come to realize that many stay-at-home moms are able to maintain that status through an immense amount of blood, sweat and ingenuity. They clip coupons. The buy in bulk. They sew clothes for themselves and their kids. They forgo expensive vacations and tend not to eat out very much. Yep, they actually make sacrifices because they believe their children are the most important thing in the world.

They also have the good sense to realize that sometimes, working outside the home just isn't worth it. The day care provider that they would hand their baby over to for nine hours a day, the extra gasoline and car upkeep for the vehicle they'd have to use, the many fast food meals when they would be just too exhausted to cook--not to mention the wardrobes needed for an office job--would eat up such a huge chunk of their salary that the actual bring-home would be negligible!

I've seen the anguish of a young mom who, when the six week's paid maternity leave wears off, had to drop off at a sitter that precious baby they've fallen madly in love with. I've known of moms who sent their child to school knowing they were probably too sick to go, but fear of an irate employer kept them from staying home to nurse their ailing child.

Honestly, I was fortunate. Although it meant being broke most of the time, I stayed home for the first full year of my children's lives, and only worked part-time while they were small. Then, a family member who loved them dearly was their sitter for a while. And I worked for a Christian organization with bosses who actually told me, "Your family is the most important thing," and never made me feel guilty for skipping work to take care of a sick baby.

My children are now grown, well-adjusted young people who emerged unscathed from having a working mom. I believe you can work outside the home and still raise healthy, happy children. And I believe many women don't have a choice about working outside the home. But if you've made the decision to stay home with those children and be an active part of their every waking moment, you are doing a great thing, and my hat's off to you. God bless you.

I got an e-mail today with this quote from Jill Savage, the director of Hearts at Home: "“On behalf of mothers at home everywhere, I want to remind the world and Teresa Heinz Kerry that motherhood is a valid profession in and of itself. Even if Laura Bush had never worked as a librarian or school teacher, it would not have indicated that she had anything less to offer to our country as a first lady. Motherhood is a ‘real job’ that requires courageous leadership strategies and excellent management skills. A woman in the profession of motherhood is simply applying her education, her experience, and her energy to the nurturing of her family. And that is a valid career choice that equips women to offer much to their families, their communities, and their world.”

Amen, Jill!

I was such a domestic diva over the weekend...

I cleaned out a closet. I made a big batch of Weight Watchers' Garden Vegetable Soup (no points!) On Sunday morning I put a roast in the crock pot, along with potatoes and carrots, and it turned out delicious. I even made gravy with a bay leaf in it like my mom did when I was growing up.

But this is really going to impress you:

I made my own lotion.

Well, before you get the image of me in a pioneer dress and apron, slaving over a big pot of lanolin or something, it was as simple as throwing some ingredients together and blending them thoroughly with my mixer.

Credit goes to my sister Bev for this. One of her co-workers gave the office ladies this lotion for Christmas, in cute little apothecary jars with a pretty ribbon wrapped around the jar.

Bev ended up making the lotion herself and giving it to me and my sister and my mom, and I'm hooked on the stuff. I use lotion like it's going out of style, anyway...I'm constantly slathering it on, and although I love Bath and Body Works, it can get expensive.

So when I used the last drop of the stuff Bev had given me, I decided to make a batch myself. Here you go:


2 (I think 9 oz) jars of Johnson's Baby Lotion
1 regular jar of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (the larger size)
2 11 oz. bottles of Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion (I used Wal-Mart's Equate version of this)

Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until it's light and fluffy.

I put some of this in the apothecary jar Bev had given me, but I also used a funnel to put some in container tubes that you can buy empty at Wal-Mart in the travel products section, so I have some in my purse, my kitchen, my bathroom and my bedroom, and Liz has her own tube. It makes a lot!

A neat thing happened...

There are so many things that happen all around us these days that make us think, "Yep, society is hopeless and the world is going to hell in a basket."

But then something happens that restores your faith a bit, if not in human nature, at least in basic human kindness.

Elizabeth and I went to Logli's (a local grocery store) Saturday afternoon. Just as we were getting out of the car, I heard a blood-curdling cry: "OH MY GOD!!!" followed by, "Get that guy, get that guy, get that guy!"

The source of the screaming was the proverbial "little old lady," one parking aisle over. I saw her trudging along with great difficulty, screaming for help. A young man was running with lightning speed across the parking lot, heading for the residential neighborhood just beyond, a purse tucked under his arm like a football...running for all he was worth.

The next thing I saw was a young black man wearing bright gold basketball shorts, zooming across the parking lot in pursuit of the purse snatcher. The bad guy had a good lead on him, but I gasped to Liz: "I think he's going to catch him!"

The next thing I was aware of was people running from all corners of the parking lot, also chasing the purse snatcher.

And you know what? The young black man CAUGHT him. (By the way, I mention his color only because the often-assumed, often-biased supposed order of things was not true here. The purse snatcher was white.)

By the time Liz and I had picked up our few items, we had to pass the yard where the police had arrived and were talking to the young black man and the "little old lady." Both had broad smiles on their faces. The purse-snatcher was apparently safely tucked away in the paddy-wagon.

Liz said, "Mom, isn't that cool? That guy took off running without once stopping to think about his own personal safety. He just saw that someone needed help, and he helped!"

Yes. It was very cool.


Rodney Olsen said...

My darling bride has just started a new job outside the home. It's only 9 hours a week while the kids are at school but it's the first work she's taken on outside of being a homemaker since our first child was born eight and a half years ago. Our second child turns six this Saturday.

We have no idea how we have survived financially. With me working for Christian organisations the pay has not been wonderful yet we've coped somehow.

Jeremy Pierce said...

Teresa Heinz was a full-time mom for a while herself, so she should know better. She obviously didn't mean to demean people for doing what she herself did, but the response shows that she wasn't being very careful in choosing her words and didn't expect phrasing it that way to offend anyone. More than anything else, that shows how out of touch she is with many Americans who are offended by phrasing it that way.

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