Commentary on the President’s Speech on Families and SAHMs

Backrground of me: I have a degree in Public Relations from the only accredited University in Indiana for Public Relations. I worked in the Corporate Communications department of a Forbes 200 company for four years. When my daughter was born I gave up the glamorous life of pant suits to raise a family and I am currently freelancing for small companies in the community, because I like to be my own boss (other than the toddler, I mean).

I don’t want anyone to draw a line in the sand here… or say it’s “us” vs “them.” I don’t want to start an online war or bash the President. I’m not trying to ignore the rest of his speech (which I have read) and I don’t want to overlook the amazing things he did say during that speech. New laws for family ARE needed! I know so many families right now that have no choice but to work though births and suffering because they can’t afford to take any time off to help their loved ones. This kind of stuff is great and awesome and NEEDED. It does not, however, negate some of the other things that were said.

I’m not trying to change minds here. I know you stand on your side of the fence and I stand on mine and so we’ll all immediately be defensive about our side. IF WE COULD JUST STOP DOING THAT FOR A MINUTE and maybe consider the way some of this stuff sounds so… and JUST FOR A SECOND consider the feelings (and yes rights) of a specific group of people (and to conservatives out there these sentiments sound really similar to those coming from the left on some matters)… and if you’re lucky I’ll address those thoughts at the end.

From where I stand there is a more subtle, secondary agenda here. To discourage the idea of stay at home motherhood. I have copied the speech as it read on Snopes and since the website thought it would be appropriate to interject their (obviously liberal) opinions, I thought I would do the same. (again, before you roll your eyes… just consider my side of the fence).

“I kept on hearing about my mom struggling to put herself through school, or my grandmother hitting that glass ceiling. And I thought about Michelle, and I told some stories about when Michelle and I were younger and getting starting, and we were struggling to balance two careers while raising a family. And my job forced me to travel a lot, which made it harder on Michelle, and we would feel some of the guilt that so many people feel — we’re working, we’re thinking about the kids, we’re wondering whether we’re bad parents, we’re wondering whether we were doing what we need to do on the job. And as the catch-22 of working parents, we wanted to spend time with our kids, but we also wanted to make sure that we gave them the opportunities that our hard work was providing.”

Sooo… this says to me that because I have chosen to stay home I’m not “making sure” my children have those opportunities or that somehow as parents we aren’t working as hard as a set of two parents that work outside of the home. That somehow their struggle starting out as two working parents and the choices they had to make shadow the incredibly hard decision it was for me to give up my career, adjust to a completely different level of income, and STILL provide all those needs and opportunities to my child. It’s not a harder struggle either way… they’re just different. I can’t imagine missing out on everything Emery does all day, I see that pain in my husband… and choosing to give up the pant suits, pay checks, and whatever feeling society tells us that as women we NEED to have because we’re women gosh darn it and we deserve to have a purpose outside of motherhood too! (BTW: I DO have a purpose outside of motherhood. I am a PERSON outside of being a mother. I realize some people get lost in it… but I don’t think we should and I haven’t. I’m awesome. I have an awesome life. I do awesome things with my life… Like ranting on a blog.)

“And then, of course, I think about my daughters. And the idea that my daughters wouldn’t have the same opportunities as somebody’s sons — well, that’s unacceptable. That’s not acceptable.”

It really isn’t acceptable. I fall more in the camp of loving my families traditional roles, but I realize that’s not for everyone… and it’s freaking ridiculous that women don’t make as much money as men for the same job. And that’s just the TIP of that proverbial iceberg.

“But here’s the challenge — that’s all good news — the challenge is, our economy and some of the laws and rules governing our workplaces haven’t caught up with that reality. A lot of workplaces haven’t caught up with that reality. So while many women are working hard to support themselves and their families, they’re still facing unfair choices, outdated workplace policies. That holds them back, but it also holds all of us back. We have to do better, because women deserve better. And, by the way, when women do well, everybody does well.

So women deserve a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And Rhode Island has got the right idea. You’re one of just three states where paid family leave is the law of the land. (Applause.) More states should choose to follow your lead.”

More true things. Especially for single parents.

“Without paid leave, when a baby arrives or an aging parent needs help, workers have to make painful decisions about whether they can afford to be there when their families need them most. Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth to their child. I mean, there are a lot of companies that still don’t provide maternity leave. Of course, dads should be there, too. So let’s make this happen for women and for men, and make our economy stronger. (Applause.) We’ve got to broaden our laws for family leave.”

Even more true and needed things. It’s AWESOME that he wants to address this and hopefully make a difference for parents and families.

“Moms and dads deserve a great place to drop their kids off every day that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg. We need better childcare, daycare, early childhood education policies. In many states, sending your child to daycare costs more than sending them to a public university.”

That is also true… but it feels less supportive of ALL parents… what about the rights or support for those that do choose to leave careers? What about work from home moms that can’t afford to do those things either? (Originally I began to spew into a different rant about insurance and women’s rights in general and about how if you need an abortion covered then I need my natural home birth covered too… but that’s a tangent and we won’t talk about that now ;))


“True. (Laughter.) And too often, parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper daycare that maybe doesn’t have the kinds of programming that makes a big difference in a child’s development. And sometimes there may just not be any slots, or the best programs may be too far away. And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

Wwwwaaaaiiiiittttt… it’s awesome that there is cheaper daycare… because then lower income families can afford it. Aaaand… we don’t need government programing EVERYWHERE. I don’t want kids getting neglected or abused (oh sweet goodness please don’t take that from the previous statement) but we just can’t all afford the same options. AND THAT’S OKAY. What we do need is to make sure if parents are working there are affordable SAFE and HEALTHY places for children to go. Maybe more strict policies or more care checks. I don’t know what that takes. But you don’t have to make lower income families feel like their daycares aren’t as wonderful as a high-cost baby boarding school.

AND DID YOU NOT SEE THE PART WHERE HE SAID MOTHERS LEAVING THEIR JOB IS NOT THE CHOICE WE WANT AMERICANS TO MAKE? Because he said that. It’s bolded for your convenience. He said it. He padded it with a lot of other encouraging words and nice ideas for working parents… but he suggested that staying home makes women worth less (specifically monetarily) for their WHOLE LIFE.

Maybe, for the rest of my whole life (yes that was redundant) I don’t care how much money I make. Maybe, my worth doesn’t come in the form of some numbers after a dollar sign (and yours shouldn’t either, man or woman). But our President most definitely suggested that women leaving their jobs is not a choice “we” want them to make… and that, dear online brethren, is a negative sentiment to the stay at home motherhood community.

Okay… that was a lot… so I’ll save my gay rights and marriage unfairness rant for another time.


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