I was told this week, on Mother’s Day no less, that stay at home mums aren’t contributing to society. As economic units they have no value to society. In fact they are a drain on society as they use more than their husband’s tax contribution of services. The comment wasn’t meant maliciously but as an explanation of why family tax benefits are probably on the chopping block. I didn’t say so at the time but I was deeply offended. Not by the person who made the comment, but by the lack of value society places on stay at home mums. Am I really nothing more than an ‘economic unit’ that must be urged back into the workforce where I can earn some value?
For a long time it’s been obvious that stay at home mums have little remaining societal value. Feminists tell us we can now be more than housewives and mothers, implying that those roles are less than our potential. Friends and family members (and often complete strangers as well!) ask about the stress on our husbands having to support the family on one income, as though we are lazy and burdensome. Statistically speaking, we are part of the ‘unemployed’ even though we try to baffle them with fancy titles like “Home Duties” or “Household Managing Director’. We’re also the brunt of society’s ‘soap opera and bonbon’ jokes. Even working mums comically state that their brains were going to mush when they were at home so they had to return to work, meaning that those who’ve opted to stay at home become more and more addled as the years go on.
In recent years, the catch phrase “get mothers back into the workforce” has been blaring from the tv. The government gives a number of reasons why they are ‘concerned’ for our welfare. Seemingly, because we rely on our husbands to support us, we are at greater financial risk if our marriages end in divorce. Our skill sets also diminish the longer we refrain from ‘working’ (cause you know we do none of that at home), limiting our future
usefulness job prospects. Apparently, not only do the mothers benefit from returning to the workforce, but the children will be able to ‘optimise’ their learning and development in an institution with staff who are properly trained to care for and raise children. Oh please!! Is it any wonder that we’ve switched off the tv and stopped listening to all the propaganda?!
Where is the love?! You know – husbands that love (and support) their wives until death do they part and mothers that love their children above themselves. Maybe that should be the value that we are looking for in our communities – people that strive to love and care more than they earn and spend. Love might actually make the world go around better than money and credit cards. Just a thought.
As a stay at home mum I know that I am forfeiting a significant income, that my degree lays gathering dust, and that there are absolutely no societal accolades for the work (yes it is work!) that I choose to do. But I stay at home with my children anyway, because the value of what I do for my children and family is worth more than money, degrees and pats on the back.
At the end of my life, when I look back, I may not see a past full of exotic holidays, jewels or designer outfits, or a spiffy career that climbed the heights, but I will see a lifetime of memories that were made with my children; and my children’s memories with be of their mother and not a stranger from a child care institution, who could never love them.
No, I am not contributing financially to society but I am investing greatly in its future. Mothers, with the time to mother, can go a long way towards solving a lot of society’s ailments. They are much more than an economic unit. Stay at home mothers are raising a healthy future. Their contribution is invaluable, even if society doesn’t realise it.
Happy Stay at Home Mother’s Day!