Sunday, April 14, 2013
When Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, told the world that Ann Romney had “actually never worked a day in her life” because she was a stay-at-home-mom to five sons, the emotions from both sides of a debate that began in the 1960s surfaced with a roar. Ann and Mitt Romney were married in 1969. Her decision to remain at home, even though she was intelligent and well-educated with a BA from Harvard, was not only what she was supposed to do, but what she opted to do.
Looking back, it seems as though there was less stress during the 1960s, perhaps because we hadn’t entered the age of technology. There weren’t nearly as many opportunities for women to engage in a full-time career along with being a good wife and mother. Women attorneys and doctors were a rarity. A married woman who found it necessary to work just had a “job” as a teacher, nurse, receptionist, secretary, check-out girl, or, if lucky, an envied food or society writer for the local newspaper, usually achieved by writing her column from her home typewriter. And, if she became pregnant, it was perfectly acceptable for her employer to terminate her services.
A single woman could be a stewardess on an airplane, if she embodied the following requirements outlined in the 1966 New York Times classified ad for stewardesses at Eastern Airlines: “A high school graduate, single (widows and divorcees with no children considered), 20 years of age (girls nineteen and a half may apply for future consideration). 5’2”, but no more than 5’9”; weight 105 to 135 in proportion to height; must have at least 20/40 vision without glasses."
During the 1970's, Maida Heatter, daughter of the famous radio commentator, Gabriel Heatter, began to give baking courses out of her home in Miami Beach. In 1974, after writing the award winning, “The Book of Great Desserts”, she said, “While all those women were out searching for their careers, I stayed in the kitchen and found mine.”
Stay-at-home moms of the ‘80s and ‘90s criticized working mom peers for “choosing a career over their children”, while working moms criticized stay-at-home moms for “giving up their ambitions and income for an apron and a vacuum”, classifying them as dull and unintelligible in conversation. By the year, 2000, some 77 percent of women between 25 and 54 were in the workplace, many with executive jobs and professions. When a couple was introduced socially, the question had shifted from, “What does he do”, to “What does she do”? It became a stigma for a woman not to be employed.
Then, a slow revolution began to evolve. It started in small towns like ours, where women decided to stay at home. Their careers were put on hold for the more significant career of raising children. There also emerged a large group who home-schooled their children, which, if done correctly, was a full-time job in itself.
Many stay-at-home moms have found opportunities for creating part-time businesses from their homes. Large cities like Manhattan in New York offer part-time careers such as a dog walker for the elite Upper Eastside pampered pooches. This might be a come-down for what was once expected from those with corporate credentials, but the going rate to strut eight darlings attached together is $35.00 per dog. This adds up to $1,900 a week! Small town moms can be just as innovative. There are, of course, opportunities in computer land, but, for those proficient with a sewing machine or who have a talent for making cookies and jams, an at home business is at their fingertips. A word of advice is to refuse anyone who asks for money up front to get you started.
For all you mothers who have chosen to work at home, and for all who have chosen to work outside the home either from necessity or to continue your careers, you are to be commended for your endeavors. Motherhood is not an easy task. The days are too long and the nights too short. And, just when the children have grown into adulthood and you think it’s finally your time of life, they march back in with grandchildren. These are the dividends that make it all worthwhile.
Tune in Comcast channel 22 & BrightHouse 199 to watch host, Valerie Hart, interview chefs in their kitchens "The Back of the House", or watch it live on your computer at www.lakefronttv.com. Follow her food page on Wednesdays in The Daily Commercial.