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May 7 2012

I Am a Feminist Mother… Who Stayed at Home

By at 9:44 am

feminist mother megaphoneI have practiced “feminist mothering” for thirty six years. Really.

I was at Barnard College just as the modern feminist movement was unfolding in the early 70′s. There, I learned to respect my own choices and to have the confidence that I could accomplish anything I wanted to do. There we “girls” were convinced that we were as smart (actually, usually smarter) than the boys we knew. There we were convinced (as if we needed convincing) that we should proudly feel smart and not hide it. That we should only be with men who respected our intelligence and our bodies. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 19 2012

The Accidental Stay-at-Home Mom

By at 11:47 am
curriculum vitae typewriter

My CV could use a good dusting off.

First birthdays are bound to bring out the reflective in a person, and I’m no exception. Avi and Maya turn one tomorrow, and for the last few weeks I’ve been reflecting like crazy. I’ve learned a few things this year. Here they are, in no particular order:

It’s not helpful to compare myself to others. Yes, its super crazy hard not to, and I’ve always been one prone to torturing myself by making illogical comparisons, but I understand now that when it comes to my girls and how they’re faring, it’s not helpful to measure them against French babies or Chinese babies or my friends’ babies or the babies that people write about in parenting books. That practice generally does nothing more than wreck havoc with my already havoc-ridden brain. We could all parent better, and most of us are doing the best we can. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 16 2012

Weekly Roundup: The CEO vs. The Stay-at-Home Mom

By at 11:36 am

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

the conflict elisabeth badinter

- Forbes asks: Is Modern Motherhood Working Against Women? Not according to one woman, the CEO of a tech company, who explains how she was able to be a business woman and make attachment parenting work for her family. (Forbes)

- For those who question just how busy stay-at-home moms really are, here’s a chronicle of a day in the life that will make you tired just reading it. (Shine)

- Laurel Snyder, Kveller contributer and author of Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher, talks about raising her Jewish kids with religion, but not too much religion–i.e., they don’t keep kosher. (CNN)

- And for your daily dose of cute, here’s a baby who absolutely loves being vacuumed (Jezebel):

Feb 8 2012

From My Days on the Forefront of Women’s Lib

By at 4:32 pm

women's liberation protestAlina Adam’s post on Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique inspired me to leaf through my copy. I’ve never actually read it but it is a treasured memento. In 1963, when I was still a little girl, my feisty, well-before-her-time grandmother bought up a whole bunch of paperback copies (still marked on the cover at $.75 each) and gave them out to friends and family. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 6 2012

On the Feminine Mystique and Not Wanting to Have it All

By at 2:58 pm

feminine mystique betty friedanBetty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published in February of 1963. However, excerpts of what would become her celebrated work appeared in Mademoiselle as early as 1962–exactly 50 years ago.

And though it is such a part of the American culture that I felt I knew what it was about, I didn’t actually read the entire thing–as opposed to references, reviews, analysis, etc.–until last month. It wasn’t at all what I expected.

For one thing, I was surprised to learn that what we now call Helicopter Parenting was a phenomenon described– if not similarly named– by Ms. Friedan as far back as five decades ago. Only her primary concern was for the syndrome’s effect on the mothers. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 2 2012

Can’t We All Just Get Along (And Not Judge Each Other’s Strollers)?

By at 4:10 pm
stroller

Is my stroller good enough for you?

Renee Septimus’ article “Enough Already with the Mommy Wars” about the battle between stay-at-home and work-outside-the-home moms (because we are all working moms) got me thinking about judgment. It makes me cringe to think of how critical moms can be of one another’s career choices, and it extends beyond paychecks. If you don’t have the right car seat/stroller/enrichment class, other moms might smile (out of sympathy?) to your face and then badmouth you to anyone who will listen.

My answer to, “What do you do?” is, “As much as I can.” My first job and priority is SAHM. After that, I am a freelance journalist, and I teach group cycling classes at local gyms. I work when my daughter sleeps or is at preschool. When she is around, she has my (mostly) undivided attention. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 30 2012

Enough Already with the Mommy Wars

By at 3:30 pm

mommy warsThe other day I was channel surfing as my grandson was sleeping and Anderson Cooper had a show on about the “mommy wars.” Yet another spotlight on this very tired topic, based on a recent study from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, which claimed that women who worked outside of the home were “happier and healthier” than full time stay-at-home moms. The panel consisted of three women in each camp and an “expert.”

OY! Not again! Forty years of this conversation is more than enough already! Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 8 2011

Staying at Home with the Kids? Get a Post-Nup

By at 2:51 pm

I remember meeting, on several occasions, with the rabbi who was going to perform our wedding ceremony.  My future husband and I were surprised when he told us we needed to sign a Jewish prenuptial agreement.  He asked us to determine an amount of money that my future husband would pay me, on a daily basis, in the event he refused to give me a get (a Jewish divorce).  Our rabbi suggested a large sum, and my husband and I laughed as I told him to triple it!  Divorce was the furthest thing from our minds, and I knew that my husband was not the type who would refuse to give me a get.  Since both of us knew this was never a document we would be using, my husband readily agreed to triple the amount and we signed it.

Looking back, our rabbi was really on to something. What better time to get a future spouse to agree to something then when he or she is happy and excited about the marriage, and divorce is far from anyone’s mind?  And while every other week the magazine covers in the supermarket checkout line talk about one celebrity or another signing or not signing a pre-nup, most people have not heard of, or considered, a post-nuptial agreement.

Let me be clear: I do not believe everyone needs a post-nuptial agreement, which is a contract between spouses outlining what will happen financially, or otherwise, in the event the marriage breaks down.  However, if you have given up your career (or taken a very long hiatus) to raise children and manage the household, I am suggesting that you at least use this article as food for thought. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 2 2011

How I Afford to Stay Home

By at 10:24 am

I loved Mayim’s piece on choosing to be a full-time presence of her children’s lives and I agree that the adulation celebrities receive every time they do something “normal” like raise their own children is really a result of their place at the top of the tax bracket.

I’ve never heard it said that the “American Dream” is to make millions of dollars filming a made for TV movie while your children are at home being potty trained by your nanny who also cooks for your sexy husband and lives in your amazing house. Nor do I think it’s the wish of any parent to have their child’s face plastered on tabloids (next to a comment about your thighs) each time you take them to the park. So, I guess it is noble when a celebrity tries to shelter their children from the reality of being famous and allows them to grow up in the arms of their Mama.

I think the real American dream is to be able to support your family and to allow your children every opportunity you had growing up and then some. I’ll admit to wishing we had more money and I think every working Mama wants more time with their kid.  In a time where two-incomes are no longer a luxury, they are a standard; we are all akin with sacrifice.

I fully intended to go back to work after my son was born but after moving for my husband’s job we quickly realized that his schedule was hellacious, we weren’t on “the list” at a single daycare, and finding a job in this economy proved difficult. That and I had morphed into an attached parent who breastfeeds around the clock and refuses to let my baby cry for more than a minute at a time. When we sat down and crunched the numbers me going back to work would barely pay the bill for someone else to raise our son, so we decide to make some sacrifices that would enable me to see him wake up sleepy-eyed from every nap and be present for each milestone. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 26 2011

Just Like Sarah Jessica Parker, I Don’t Have a Nanny

By at 11:10 am

Mayim and Sarah Jessica Parker just hanging with the kids. (Note: Just in case it's not obvious, we added Mayim to SJP's Vogue photo spread.)

In a recent issue of Vogue magazine, Sarah Jessica Parker was quoted as saying she does not have a live-in nanny. What followed in many people’s minds and blogs was a deluge of “Wow! That’s sooo amazing! I really admire her, she is sooo awesome!” We see this quite a bit in our celebrity-infused consciousness and culture: amazement and what looks like tremendous gushing admiration for celebrities who do such things as “raise their own children,” as Deborah Kolben recently snarled–er, noted: What is so praiseworthy,  about celebrities raising their own children!?

Well, as a celebrity who a) raises my own children with no live-in nanny, part-time nanny, babysitter or housekeeper; b) talks about raising my own children without any of these things, and c) has sometimes received praise for not having any of these things, I thought I would respond on my behalf.

I don’t think that the reaction of astonishment and praise for celebrities doing things like not having a live-in nanny is simply because they are celebrities. I think it’s because they are wealthy. A lot of people think that if they had the money for a live-in nanny, they would hire one. You can take this train of thought as far as you want to: maybe if you had the money, you would hire a night nurse when you have a newborn. Maybe you would hire a live-in chef. Maybe you would also like to have a personal trainer on hand and a personal assistant to do all of your shopping, errands, dog-walking and the like. Maybe you would never work again if you didn’t “have to.”

Many celebrities can afford to do all of these things, and, interestingly, not all of them do. Why don’t they? In theory, I could afford a live-in nanny I suppose. Maybe not a very fancy one, but for the sake of argument, let’s say I could afford one. I don’t. Why not?

Well, I want to raise my kids myself. I don’t want help from someone else or input from anyone other than my husband, who is home with our boys when I am working (I was the primary 24/7 caregiver for the first year of both of our boys’ lives). I like nursing all night, waking up at 6 am to feed my sons and try and keep them content. I like the challenges because I like the results. I like knowing exactly what they are interested in, what foods they like and don’t like, and I love being there if they fall, get discouraged or punch each other. I love holding them when they cry and seeing their joy when they build something awesome with LEGO. I love being the one to hear my almost-talking Fred utter phrases he has never said before. I don’t want to hear about any of this from anyone else, and there is nothing I was put on this earth to do more than to be the mama of these souls. I am devoting my life right now to being the best mom I can be to them in all of my imperfection and struggle and that is a decision I make independent of how much money I do or don’t make.

I don’t think I am better than anyone for making the choice not to have a nanny, celebrity or not. My husband and I made the choice that was right for us, and everyone gets to make the choice that’s right for them. Full-time parenting sans nanny should  not be a luxury or anything special or praiseworthy to partake in. Northern European countries such as Sweden and Denmark acknowledge that full-time parenting is the best thing for babies, families, and society, and it is facilitated by the government offering paid maternity and paternity leaves extending into a child’s toddler years. Our country could learn a thing or two from these countries.

But until we do, in this culture, we all make decisions based on what lifestyle we want. If you want to have a lot of expensive clothes and expensive cars and a house with a hefty mortgage and you also want to travel a lot without your children, I suppose you will make life choices that allow that to happen and that’s fine for you even if it’s not fine for me. My desire to be the primary caregiver to my children without paying someone else to do the things I can’t or don’t want to do is a choice I would never back down on, even if I won the lottery tomorrow. If I had to move out of Los Angeles, live in a studio apartment with them in the cheapest part of this country, sell my car, and stop eating out or shopping at specialty markets to support being their mama this way, I would do it in a heartbeat.

And there’s not many times in my life I will ever get the chance to say this, but here goes:

This is how SJP and I roll. So do millions of celebrity, non-celebrity, rich and not rich parents all over this world. So if SJP and I are going to get praise, let’s all share it.

To all of you who stay at home: You are sooo amazing and you are really awesome.

There. Doesn’t that make you feel like a celebrity?

Check out Mayim at Perez Hilton’s birthday party and read about how Chelsea Handler mistook Mayim for a lesbian at the Horrible Bosses movie premiere.

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