Motherhood’s Bad Rap

by Lorraine Esposito on April 20, 2012

in You as a parent

Sharp stabs were felt by mothers across the country last week.  The debate in Washington over the contribution value of stay-at-home mothers got me thinking:   Why would Hilary Rosen, a working  mother,  assume Ann Romney, a career mother, couldn’t add  useful insight to the topic of world economics?  Ms. Rosen’s comments imply a lack of something on Mrs. Romney’s part:

  • A lack of access to current information, perhaps?
    • Nope, Mrs. Romney is front and center as she supports her presidential candidate husband, Mitt Romney.
  • Maybe a lack of hardship that brings context to information?
    • Nope, she’s had her share of hard knocks dealing with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer.
  • A lack of experience, then?
    • Nope, she’s been involved in politics most of her life, first as the daughter of a town mayor and then as Mitt’s partner for almost 50 years.
  • Possibly a lack of intelligence?
    • Nope, she completed her undergraduate degree through the Extension School at Harvard University.

As a long-time political analyst for the Democratic Party, Hilary Rosen is well aware that Ann Romney isn’t lacking anything.  I’m guessing Rosen was simply intent upon creating controversy for political gain.  Okay, I get it, but what about the sharp stab felt by millions of other stay-at-home mothers?  Comments like Rosen’s are more than political sniping because they weaken families.


“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  This Spanish proverb cautions us to withhold judgment of quality until quality is demonstrated.   So what’s the preverbal ‘pudding’ made by a mother?  Tricky question to answer for three reasons:

  1. A mother’s work and results are subjectively measured and unique to the individuals involved.
  2. There are two kinds of ‘pudding’ to measure
    1. Short-term – day-to-day squabbles over chores and homework, for example
    2. Long-term – the quality and character of the adult child—we won’t see that for 20 years.
  3. Short-term tactics and results often appear contrary to the ultimate long-term goals.
    • A skinned knee today may not look like support, but it is.

Am I good enough yet?

Accurately measuring the value of a mother’s work is tricky; perhaps that’s why so many mothers struggle to feel valuable.  The Rosens of the world make it harder because they shift our energy away from the work of motherhood into defense and justification.  I know many mothers who divided their time between a job and children solely to impress Rosen-like critics.  When that’s the case, everyone loses—especially the mother.

A professional mother

Motherhood has a bad rap because mothers lack confidence and pride.  Every job is hard if you lack confidence and pride; in that regard motherhood is no different than a political pundit’s job.   The only way to ease the workload of any job is to fully embrace it, perfect your ability to perform, focus on your short- and long-term goals, and then play full on.  Image how differently the world would come to view a mother if she approached her job like a professional.

Related Articles:  Give Your Mother a Break

Related Tip of the Week:  Credibility, Mother’s Day,

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