Mothers’ Daze


Just in time for Mother's Day comes a revived battle of choices for women dealing with circumstances that can dictate their own physical and emotional health: The oft-discussed "War on Women" has brought back the old "working mom" vs. "stay at home" controversy and which is healthier for families overall.
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen was fired up about, and later, fired at for her recent comments about Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, being out of touch with middle- and lower-income mothers because of her wealth and access to services most cannot afford.
Ann Romney and conservative pundits fired back, arguing that a mother's job is a full-time job no matter what your economic status is.

On many levels, both sides are correct. However, this conclusion leads to the realization that like politics, a mother's fight for equality and respect is actually a local one, as close to home as her own household.

"This is sort of a chicken-and-egg quandary, really," says Mitchell Mortimer, executive director of the International Mothers Hall of Fame, a Texas non-profit founded in 1967 by Douglas Stroud to honor his own mother.

The group recently instituted a list of Mothers of the Year, which includes both Ann Romney and First Lady Michelle Obama among others, famous and otherwise.

"Motherhood is a tough gig no matter what clarifier you put in front of the term," he continues. "Whether or not a woman decides to go back to work or stay at home is dictated by finances and personal preference.

"However, whichever form of motherhood takes place, it doesn't change the core issue — being a mom is not a job. It is a life commitment."

"Media coverage only generates a war if you buy into it," insists Boston-based life coach Miriam J. Katz, who recently co-authored The Other Baby Book (, and describes herself straddling both worlds as a "work-at-home mom."

"When I look around and talk to working and stay-at-home moms, all of them seem to understand they have different life situations. They are all very respectful of each other and their circumstances," she adds.

"Though there are individuals who make a big deal about their lifestyle choices being more correct than others, the dialogue we are hearing" apparently has more to do with the presidential election.

Casey Slide, editor of's Personal Finance Section, observes that the working vs. stay-at-home mom argument is more complex than what can be reported in a five-minute news segment.

Other factors that need to be taken into consideration: the changes in society that led women to work, and decisions mothers need to make that their mothers may have not been faced with.

"To fully analyze the argument, it is best to understand the causes and impact this issue has had on society," Slide says. "I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I work significantly longer hours than I ever did working a 40-hour a week job."

Images of haggard and exhausted moms come to mind. "That said, not all stay-at-home moms have the same workload as I do, and some working moms may be single or have a special needs child who is extra demanding. Some stay-at-home moms have part-time jobs; others do not."

She adds that "the media can't give a definitive answer on who has it harder or who has it right, as every situation is unique."

"We need to stop thinking of this as a woman's issue and start thinking of it as a societal issue."

Slide says she is not sure about why some conservative lawmakers oppose legislation that guarantee women earn as much as men; she does believe — in contrast to Katz — there is a war on women.

Is it unhealthy for the nation? As Slide sees it, women are being hurt by conservatives and liberals alike, and for a wide variety of reasons.

"Not being a working mom myself, I don't know exactly what the working mom would want," she notes, pointing out she grew up in a stay-at-home mom household in the 1980s and found herself empathizing with Ann Romney's response to criticisms.

"What I do know from my friends who are working moms is that they would rather be stay-at-home moms. To add more pressure to women, society and the economy have progressed in such a way that it makes it difficult to survive on a single income."

Katz, who said mothers with Ann Romney's resources can be disconnected from the realities middle- and lower-income mothers face, finds that the fight for services like this is going to go on for a long time. "As a life coach, I recommend evaluating the things in your life that you feel are most important to you, and set the priorities from there."


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