By Jenny Dean Schmidt, Channelmom
I find myself perplexed by a group of outraged, “opt out” moms. Recent news shows moms who chose to “opt out” of their jobs — to stay at home with their kids — are now having difficulty “opting back in” to the workforce. And, some of the moms having difficulty are “peeved” that employers aren’t being more welcoming… not to mention the fact that the economy has made it difficult for many job-seekers to find the jobs they desire. Before I tell you how the outrage of “opt out” moms belittles the job of motherhood, let me issue a few disclaimers:
Disclaimer #1: I support moms, period. I want all moms to be supported in child-rearing and beyond.
Disclaimer #2: I believe women can work outside of the home without being bad moms. I also believe they should get equal consideration and equal pay for equal work.
Disclaimer #3: I am a mom reporter, who took 10 years off of working outside the home, to be a stay-at-home mom to our children.
OK, here goes… I read Kelly Wallace’s (CNN) report about the phenomenon of “opt out” moms having difficulty getting back into the work force (link below). Wallace said her “pet peeves” included companies that don’t make it easier for moms to get back into the workforce. On the surface, that seems like a reasonable opinion. If a mom needs a job and is qualified, companies should give her a fair shot at being hired. But, Wallace went on to quote Lisa Belkin’s statement that, “Perhaps the biggest lesson from the women who opted out and are having trouble getting back in is “not always having an eye’ on their return.” The implication Belkin makes is that moms should be thinking about going back to work the whole time they’re staying home with their kids. The lesson, according to Belkin, is that moms should NOT make the mistake of being fully-focused on their child-rearing, but should always keep one “eye” on the computer and the other on networking to make sure they have something worthwhile to return to in the working world — like motherhood is not worthy IN and OF ITSELF!
Kelly also profiles a mom who was upset that employers don’t see the value of PTA experience and other volunteer work. Again, does everything we do as moms have to be a resume-builder? Can’t our “mom work” simply be valuable because we are raising our kids well?
In another article about “opt out” moms, Mom Writer, Deborah L. Jacobs writes in Forbes (link below), “most of the women who I interviewed told me that they had experienced career setbacks as a result of their decision.” Did they expect anything else?! When you choose to dedicate yourself to something as worthy as motherhood for years of your life, haven’t you CHOSEN to sacrifice other things (like a job) that you determined had less value than child-rearing? Why would a woman expect to come back to something she SACRIFICED — for the sake of her kids — and find herself in exactly the same standing? It’s called “sacrifice” for a reason… and it’s a worthy one. I applaud any mom who had the wherewithal (and the blessing of financial stability) to make the decision to stay home with her kids. Research shows the majority of moms would like to stay at home with their kids, either part-time or full-time. Additional research shows that when moms (or dads) spend more time with their kids, those kids do better in school and avoid delinquency.
Obviously, I have sympathy for stay-at-home moms who now need a job to help support their home. I want them to be hired. This is not about whether or not moms should be hired back into the workforce. It’s about the complaints of some moms, who seem to resent the fact that their dedication to motherhood didn’t add to their outside career.
And, what about those kids whose moms chose to stay home with them? How do they take it when their moms are disappointed that child-rearing didn’t add to their resume? Good and dedicated moms are a beautiful thing. Being a mom is valuable in and of itself. I am not “peeved” that it didn’t pad my resume. My kids are my resume.