Monthly Archives: September 2008

A Single Woman Weighs in on Stay-At-Home Moms

I’ve been hearing from a lot of stay-at-home moms, and sharing some of their letters with you.  I got this one from a woman who is not a mother, but who has strong feelings about those who stay at home with their kids:

My grandmother was a homemaker.  My mother was divorced, and raised us without our “sperm donor” father, because she chose to leave an abuser.  She worked at a company at night, so that she could walk us to school and help with homework (I didn’t realize the magnitude of this when I was young, but I surely do now).

I’m over 40 now, and don’t have any children, and I work full-time.  However, with every job that I’ve ever taken, I’ve always known in the back of my mind that it would never be a “career,” because I would eventually leave to be a stay-at-home mom.  So, I had to come up with something that I could do to generate income and stay at home:  writing.

I haven’t quite pursued my writing “career” yet.  I watch pregnant women around my office leave, have their babies, and come back.  Some of them are married, and some not.  Either way, I am dumbfounded that they would not rather be at home all day with the baby.

I never wanted to have children as a single woman without a husband.  First, because I didn’t want to have to do everything by myself.  As it is now, I hate taking out my own trash, and wished that I had a husband who didn’t mind taking on that chore!  And second, because each parent’s role is important.  They both matter and make a great contribution.  It’s what all children want:  a mommy and a daddy who are together and care about each other.  So, as I get older and my biological clock “explodes,” I’ve never been tempted to do it alone, i.e., just have a baby because that’s what I want.

Maybe one day, I’ll have a MAN who loves to call me his “girlfriend.”  In the meantime, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I’ll miss that joy of being able to stay at home with my baby and welcoming my husband home at the end of a hard day at work to provide for us.

Shame, Revisited

After posting a blog last Thursday (9/11/08) about “shame,” I got this response from a reader:

I grew up in a Roman Catholic family.  I attended parochial school, and I also became pregnant at 17.  I was shamed and ostracized for what I had done, but I have to say that the “shaming” I received from my family and community actually led me back onto the right track.

I completed my high school diploma by attending school in the morning, and I began college at night (I was admitted to a local university because I was an honor student in my high school).  I attended college with 30 and 40 year-olds!  Ultimately, I graduated college and became a Certified Public Accountant. 

This was a difficult path, and I recommend it to no one.  I sacrificed much:  my young adulthood.  I did not do the things other kids my age did.  I took care of my baby, I studied, and I cleaned houses.  Although I was ashamed of becoming pregnant so young and out-of-wedlock, I loved my child more than life itself, and I always placed my child’s needs before mine.  I did not “party.”  I did not hang out with friends.  I did not do things just for myself, and most of all, I did not whine.

I don’t think most teens are capable of this, and most babies are probably better off being placed for adoption.  I had my family’s help – I was not tossed onto the streets, but my parents’ expectations were high, and “I” was my child’s caregiver (not my mom).  I was the one up at night with my sick baby.  I was the one who took him to the park and the doctor’s office, and I was the one he came to depend on most.

 I have been happily married now for many years to a man I am so blessed to have as my husband.  I have three beautiful children.  I have chosen to stay home with my younger kids and not work outside of the house.  I ALWAYS hated to leave my oldest child and felt tremendous guilt when I headed off to school for the day or to clean houses.

 It’s an absolute treasure to be a stay-at-home mom.  My job in life now is to provide a warm home environment, and to be there for my hubby and kids.  By the way, the baby boy I had at 17 is now an honor student at [a major university], and quite a wonderful young man.  To this day, I still feel remorse that my oldest did not have the same childhood as my other two kids.  I feel I cheated him, and I suppose I always will.

Do Women Fare Better With the GOP?

Barack Obama and Joseph Biden are both fishing for the women’s vote – especially disenchanted Hillary Clinton feminists.  Biden has insisted that Republicans, including Sarah Palin, represent a step backwards for women. 

But when you look at the labor market data from the Census Bureau (as Professor Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago has in a new study), to figure out “the amount and reasons for women’s progress in the labor market since the 1960s” something very interesting is revealed. (Wall Street Journal 9/12/08).

In 1988, the last full year of Republican Ronald Reagan’s administration, wage growth for women working full-time throughout the year improved by 8.3% from the end of the Democratic administration of Jimmy Carter.  “Johnson, Carter, and Clinton were all Democrats, yet none of them witnessed much labor-market progress for women during their administrations:  eight years of Reagan, four years of George H.W. Bush, and six years of George W. Bush.”  The Nixon-Ford administrations were the only Republican administrations that didn’t make it to this list of forward momentum for women. 

In the Quarterly Journal of Economics, August, 2008, Professor Mulligan and Yona Rubenstein (from Brown University) calculated the statistics that showed women’s annual wage growth relative to men’s: 

Under Republican administrations, women’s annual wage growth relative to men was .0.87% under George W. Bush, 1.4% under George H.W. Bush, and 1.6% under Ronald Reagon.  Under Democratic administrations, women fared less well.  Their annual wage growth relative to men was 0.21% under Bill Clinton, 0.04% under Jimmy Carter, and minus 1% under Lyndon Johnson. 

I like that color lipstick, especially if the kids are grown or Daddy is home with the kidlets.

57 Years Married and Still “Hot” for Each Other

I read this email on the air, but it’s so good, I wanted to share it with everyone:

Dr. Laura:

You gave me a most wonderful 79th birthday present today, in the form of a caller who showed the typical stupidity of the male.  He was married to his second wife for 25 years, and was concerned, because, while he still enjoyed her, he was not sure that he still really LOVED her.

I have enjoyed your daily “classes” for years, and have learned much.  But there is one class I believe I am uniquely prepared to present. The ladies learn much about “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” from your book and daily sessions.  You tell the ladies how to work us guys, and of your power over us.

Right back at you, my dear!  I have had my magnificent lady eating out of my hands for 57 years, and once in a while, I still playfully remind her that she is just my “first” wife.  You gals aren’t all that complicated.  The answer is simple:  as you get what you need or want, you are more willing to give.  That’s the same principle you preach to the girls.

What does it take?  Really, not much – just a little TLC gets big payoffs.  Try:

1.  FLOWERS – for no special occasion or guilty conscience.  A single rose will
Work.  No greater mileage for $1.50.

2.”I LOVE YOU” – Tell her or show her at least 10 times every day.  It’s easy.  There are so many ways to say it, and even more important, to show it.

3.  COFFEE IN BED – No big deal.  The coffee maker is automatic, and the payoff at my house is BIG.  It always begins with a “thank you” that sounds like it was the first time ever.  She gets this treatment most every day, and if I sleep in, well, then I get to say “thank you!”

4.  REASSURE HER – Tell her how good she is, and back her up every time you can.  She will thank you for it.

Does it really work?  YES!  My LADY loves to tell her friends who often bemoan their love lives and multiple “whatever’s.”  She tells them “The best thing I could wish for you is to be married to my Don for a week.”

Making love to my 75 year old lady is wonderful, and I have the thrill of making her enjoy her sex. (Wow.)  My greatest honor was to be invited into her body so long ago.  She was all mine at 18 and still is.  As the subtle changes came along in her life and body, I was happy, because I knew that I was part of each of them.  She still has great looking “boobs” and a beautiful behind.  I love handing her the towel as she steps out of the shower with that great welcoming smile.

Tomorrow, after breakfast of coffee in bed at 6AM with toast, fruit, and melon, I plan to “have my way” with her once again.  And I have a rose that says it will work!

The luckiest guy you will ever hear from,

Don

P.S.  Thanks for being there when we really needed your guidance.

“Shame” on You

Recently, I came across a newspaper’s Letter to the Editor written by a well-known television personality.  She’d gotten pregnant out-of-wedlock at 17, and had to endure  “…[my] mother’s disappointment, my father’s anger, the priest’s admonishment…[T]he shame and ridicule were more than I could bear.  I was no good.  I had messed up.  I knew it.  My dreams and life were shattered.  Days later, I was married off and sent away.  I said I did not love this man.  I was told: ‘You made your bed; now you must lie in it.’”

She went on to recount the damage to her self-esteem (which she called “life-threatening”) and described being ostracized and condemned as a “bad” girl, “when I had tried hard all my life to do well and make my parents proud.”

While it’s natural to feel compassion for someone who has faced that kind of negative reaction from all the significant adults in her life, it’s important to point out that this situation was not all about her.  And it seems like this author still doesn’t get it.  It is about the innocent, dependent child who finds himself or herself in an unprepared, chaotic, non-committed, immature and fragile situation by being born to a teenager and her male counterpart who are having a sexual relationship and are not prepared for the biological consequences:  a pregnancy.

The concept of “feeling shame” is a very human, emotional/social mechanism.  Its purpose is to deter people from engaging in behaviors that will have negative consequences for them, for others who may be victimized by their behavior, and for the community and society as a whole.   The motivation behind those who rage against “shame” is to dissociate behavior from consequence.  These days, judgment of others is considered a bad thing because it hurts feelings, but having hurt feelings (particularly if they’re the result of actions which cause pain to others) is a good thing; it is part of having a conscience.  Only good people feel guilt.  Only good people suffer from doing ill to others.  It’s human, natural, expected and respected for people to suffer over their wrongdoing.  To complain, however, that wrongdoing should not result in any negative reaction is immature and defensive and contrary to the notion of taking responsibility for how one’s actions impact others.

The author of the letter complains about having to marry the young man – whom she didn’t love – in order to legitimize the baby and take responsibility as a family for the child’s welfare.  Why is that a bad thing?  Why was she having sexual relations with someone for whom she didn’t have the highest regard and wouldn’t have chosen to be the father of her future children?   Is it not in the best interest of the child to have the foundation of a family?

Submitting to responsibility for a dependent child seems like a noble action to me.  Staying mutually committed for the well-being of another human being sounds noble to me.  And many can report that people so inclined grow together and build a strong love and family foundation. These ideals, however, don’t often resonate with people who marry this young.  That is why adoption is often the best solution for the child.

The author of this letter was making the point that the media shouldn’t focus on those young men and women who make this sort of “mistake,” because it hurts their feelings and because these are private issues.  Generally, these are private issues, but when people in the public eye and their families display behaviors which undermine role-modeling obligations or expectations, it should be examined publicly, because impressionable youngsters take their cues from their environment.  When there is no public “shame” for destructive, hurtful or illegal behaviors our children see and emulate, the disasters grow exponentially.

The author writes : “If my pregnancy – my deepest shame – had been broadcast for all to know about, I might have taken my life.”  Clearly, now that the author is a mature woman, she is making her own “shameful” history public and is not suicidal.  Maturity is an important factor in dealing with serious issues, which is precisely why children should not be engaging in activities that endanger the lives of innocent people (as we’ve seen with fetuses being aborted or newborns tossed in dumpsters or toilets).  The young women themselves are at risk when they have a child’s view of how “life is over” just because they’re embarrassed. 

So, instead of railing about how upsetting shame is to a pregnant youngster, it is important to point out to all the other young people out there what dangerous ground they tread when they “walk” as responsible adults, but in reality have the footprints of naïve children.  Taking this story public is a way to warn children away from playing with the “perks” of committed adults when they are in no position to take on the responsibilities of their actions, nor to cope well with the emotional fallout.

We are in an era which judges “judgment” as evil.  It isn’t.  Morals, values, principles and ethics are prophylactics against pain and destruction, and not just somebody’s evil attempt to wrest momentary pleasure from the grip of innocent bystanders.

Dr. Laura, You Had No Influence On My Decision!

Today, I’m turning my blog over to Nicole, who wrote the following:

Dr. Laura:

I’m glad to be able to tell you I’m sorry, but you had nothing to do with my long-ago-made decision to be an at-home mom to my children.  I made that choice long before I started listening to you (at the ancient age of 19).

I am nearly 29 and extremely proud to tell you that my very own Mom was “her kids’ mom” all my growing-up life.  She did this while it was very popular to go to work, have a career and leave kids with the sitter or latch-key programs.  I had very little idea that moms even went to work until friends or teachers would ask me what my mom “did.”  I’d look at them weirdly and think it was a funny question to ask…she lives at home and bakes, fixes our meals, does the laundry, picks us up from school every day, and watches my younger siblings!  Who else would do those things if Mom didn’t?

I remember going home in the first grade and asking Mom what her job title was, because the teacher needed to know for our yearbook.  “Homemaker,” she’d say proudly!  She has been my biggest influence in modeling and reinforcing what a stay-at-home mom should look like…creative, resourceful, smart, kind, loving and self-sacrificing (and always beautiful)!  Your preaching, teaching, and nagging only reinforces the atmosphere I grew up with.

Thanks for all you do for all the women who didn’t grow up with my Mom.

Nicole

P.S.  I will give you this – you did help me when I was seeking and selecting my husband.  I had to find a man who would SUPPORT me in my long-ago-made “choice of lifestyle.”  I found him, and COULD NOT have done ANY better!  And, of course, Mom approves too!