I was watching CNN when Hilary Rosen said it and while I understood what she meant, I also knew it was problematic.
For the next several days, I listened to every pundit and politician who could find a microphone pay personal homage, to the 'hard work of motherhood'. Some, liberal and conservative, actually meant it. Some, liberal and conservative, didn't have a clue as to what they were talking about.
The fact is, we don't value the work of all mothers in our country. We don't believe that single mothers who don't make enough money, who travel long commutes to work, or who work and go to school to better themselves are 'hard working mothers'. We actually want poor mothers to work AND make the PTA meetings AND cook the nutritious meals AND discipline the children AND do all the other things that middle class and wealthy mothers - single or married - tell you they can hardly do themselves. And if the mothers aren't able keep up, they are branded as irresponsible and their morality is questioned. If, on the other hand, middle class and well to do mothers aren't able to meet the demands of their role - well they are simply 'overwhelmed' by the demands of motherhood.
This article, about a bill that puts all of the political sophistry and preening about motherhood to a test. It also shows that the work of all mothers is not actually so highly regarded after all...
"House Republicans emphatically agree with Mitt Romney that stay-at-home moms work just as hard as anybody in the workforce. But when it comes to applying that standard to mothers on welfare, they draw the line."
"Romney weighed in on the work of stay-at-home moms last week after Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen suggested that Ann Romney, a stay-at-home mom, had "never worked a day in her life." Mitt Romney defended his wife's choice to stay home with their five sons by saying, "All moms are working moms.""
""Well, I agree," Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said of Romney's comment."
"But when Mica was informed of a Democratic bill that would allow child rearing to count toward the required "work activity" that must be performed by recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families -- the federal program born out of welfare reform in 1996 -- he had a change of heart."
""It's a stretch. It's a stretch. It's a stretch," Mica told The Huffington Post earlier this week."
"Specifically, the bill, called the Women's Option to Raise Kids (WORK) Act, would allow low-income mothers with children ages 3 and under to stay at home with their children and continue receiving benefits. It will be introduced by Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and has about half a dozen Democratic cosponsors."
""It really is a luxury these days for a mom to be able to stay home and raise the kids," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a cosponsor of the WORK Act, said Thursday on MSNBC. "But if you're lower income, it's just virtually impossible right now not to look for some outside income.""
"Mica tried to explain why he thinks the work of stay-at-home moms is different from other kinds of work."
""It is work, but it isn't work in the normal sense that you would qualify for those kind of benefits," he said."
"Asked if he understood the point that Democrats were trying to make with their bill -- that if everyone agrees that raising children is real work, the government should treat it as such, too -- Mica said he did."
""I see the argument. Yeah," he said. "But it doesn't pass the test.""
"Some Republicans became irate as they tried to square their views on the work of stay-at-home mothers with the aim of the Democratic proposal."
""Anybody who knows what they're talking about would know it's darn hard work," said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "The entire issue is that women bear a disproportionate share of the hard work. Birthing, carrying, the whole thing -- it's hard work.""
"But he raised his voice when asked if that meant he could support the Democratic bill."
""Of course not!" he said. "I'm for jobs!""
"Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who is running for Senate, called the Democratic bill "disgusting.""