Friday, March 29, 2013

Rich mom, poor mom

I wrote this last week and I was a little nervous to post it, but you know, whatever. Watch out for the wind, I threw some caution in it.
So, I read this article. And it just...rubbed me the wrong way. There are some totally valid points, I think, but it just got me thinking about all sorts of groan-inducing opinions I've heard of late and instead if being a crazy Facebook commenter, I thought I'd spare the world and free-style here in my bubble.
The article talks about the fallacy of the increased trend of "opt-out" moms, who are educated, higher income moms who chose staying home over careers. It addresses that the majority of stay at home moms have to stay home because their potential earnings don't allow them to pay for child care, and that they're high school educated or less and surviving on less than $25,000 a year. Somehow it also downplays the accomplishments of opt-out moms, because they have chosen to stay home while others are forced to. I hate to get on my soap box on this one, but fuck if I'm not pissed off...kinda.
"Opt-out" moms may be the minority, but what this article needs to address is that these moms "opted-in" on education & other life-changing decisions earlier in life, which gave them the option to opt-out, a "luxury" that has been afforded to them because of the decisions they made. Educated moms and moms who have a higher household income are obviously going to have different options and lives from their less educated and lower income counterparts, regardless as to whether they stay home with kids or have amazing careers. Elitist or not, it holds true that educated women will probably have much different careers than uneducated women, but doesn't the same fact carry over to the idea that these two groups of women will have vastly different stay at home mom experiences, which have nothing to do with the "option" part of the whole thing. Whether you're raising kids on $25,000 a year and clipping coupons or you're living on six figures and your home is "Pinterest ready", it's all effing hard. Ask any mom! There are just different challenges, none of which should be downplayed. Saying that you're able to have a Pinterest-able life because you have a higher household income is completely ridiculous. It's about the priorities that we set in our homes, and what works for one family may not work for another. It has nothing to do with household income! This is the equivalent of saying that an educated woman is going to be better at her chosen profession than an uneducated woman is at hers. It's simply not true. Yes, they will have different experiences, but to say that one has it easier than the other and, as such, is a better worker is laughable. Uneducated and low income stay at home moms should be praised for their success as a mom, and not shamed or patronized because of their demographic, just as educated and higher income stay at home moms' efforts shouldn't be downplayed because of their demographic.

I think my brows almost collapsed on themselves when I read this passage,

"Ultimately, the opt-out story is a fantasy: that if women just made the right decisions, their lives could be worry-free. But the "decision" to live on one six-figure income is only available to a tiny fraction of Americans — for many more, raising kids is a struggle, whether Mom works or not"

Raising kids is a struggle for the majority of Americans who don't make six figures? You're kidding? I had no idea. The rest of us who opted-in are finding parenthood to be a breeze. "Come children, lets go to the museum before our stop at Whole Foods, but I've got to grab my Kate Spade purse and run by Starbucks first. After all, if didn't have these things this parenting thing may be hard and it's because of our vast wealth that I'm able to parent you with such purpose and attention. Thank heavens I made the decision to be 'worry-free'"

Seriously? This shit is just insulting, to like, ALL moms.

Success and accomplishment in your life have more to do with ambition and commitment than your income. I will forever be peeved by the assumption that I'm able to accomplish what I accomplish in my home based on my husband's income or my decision to stay home. I accomplish these things because I'm good at this! Rich (which I'm certainly not), poor, rain, shine, zombie apocalypse, I've got this skillz, which don't pay the bills, but skills nonetheless. This one facet of life, where I excel, shouldn't be downplayed because I have the option to explore it. I'd hopefully excel at something else in my career if it hadn't been my choice to stay home instead, but it would be because of the effort I put into it and not my household income. If I excelled in some aspect of my career it would probably be based on my education and the drive in which I applied to the advancement of my abilities. This holds true for teachers, cashiers, accountants, bartenders, CEOs and Walmart greeters, just as it holds true for stay at home moms. I worked my ass off in school, planned and prepared for grad school, moved out of state, sacrificed in order to afford grad school, and then walked out of the GRE right into the car and told my boyfriend (now my husband) that I wanted to get married and have kids. It was at THIS point that I "opted" to be a stay at home mom, but I also put as much effort into my home and family as I would have put into my advanced degree and my future career. A two year masters program was the traded for a five year program of hard work, sacrifice and a butt-load of education in another "field". Did I want a baby and husband immediately? Well, duh? Yeah, I did. But just as I couldn't approach my profession without a Masters, I wasn't about to approach my future as a stay at home with any less preparation. It meant learning to cook, clean, create. It meant working hard and saving for the future. It meant lighting aromatherapy candles, incorporating food with good fat and antioxidants for brain health, and playing the right tempo of classical music at the right volume to assist with math skill retention while my guy studied. Did this help him become brilliant and successful? I don't know. Some of it did, some of it didn't, but I had to attempt and embrace what I, personally, could do to make my "option" happen. And that meant helping my guy to accomplish and excel in his educational and career goals.

You can be naturally "good" at something and regardless of the situation, excel at that thing. However, people who are great at what they do, as mothers or CEOs, are usually "great" because of their effort and commitment. Effort and commitment to anything has nothing to do with your education level or your income, but sometimes your education and income are the direct result of your effort and commitment. So comparing existence and magnitude of moms' struggles and triumphs in relation to their education level and income ignores the reality that our decisions and acceptance of personal responsibility are what shape the fabric of our lives, as mothers, as wives, as students, as employees, as friends, as a homeless guy, as an unemployed college graduate, as a nun, and as a serial killer. Regardless of the hand we're dealt, we always have control over our decisions.

Women the who have seven figure household incomes and women who have five figure household incomes may or may not be able to rock some royal icing like I can, but it doesn't have anything to do with money or education. It has to do with my decision to make time to make it happen, because it's a priority for me. Even if it's 3 am and I will be a completely crappy, zombie mom tomorrow morning and I end up leaving my kid with DJ Lance Rock. I made the choice. This obviously extrapolates to much more important decisions, but sometimes the long list of little decisions affect the structure of our life. Just ask Subway Jared. Sandwiches. His life was forever changed by sandwiches. I'm just saying.

Now, it needs to be said that I am eternally grateful for the life I am afforded and the knowledge that at least for today, I can feed my family and have a roof over our heads. And I know that some families aren't as lucky, as a result of things beyond their control.


Me: crazy fortunate and grateful for everything I have, some of which is the result if my decisions, some fate.

Some: not as fortunate, some of which is a result of poor decisions, some fate.

Some: not as fortunate, totally shitty luck at life, but decide to make the most of life and make good decisions with the choices they are given.

BUT, all of these instances can result in someone being an awesome stay at home mom, or a shitty one for that matter, and it doesn't have shit to do with income or education. So give props where props are deserved, because being a mom is flipping hard, ya'll!

I'm rambling. There are like three flies in the house. I'm out of milk, and my kid, who is currently pouring his water on the dog, needs lunch, which will of course be a peanut butter sandwich, because regardless of your education and income, you cannot convince a two year old to eat anything else.

Home. Decisions. Sandwiches. Jared. Carter. Connections. Out.

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