Hunt: Mothers misunderstood

 

 

Georgie Hunt

A lot of work goes into Thanksgiving dinner, but we forget. We sit down at the table, grin at our heaping plates and, shoving pale parsnips to the side, give thanks for turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash and red wine. Instead of marveling at the cook and showering her with thanks, we crack pepper, sprinkle salt and spread butter, awarding the food our attention and gratitude, as if some masochistic turkey decided to cut off his own head and stuff himself with bread. What about our mothers? Have we ever said thank you?

Recognizing my own assumptions, I should note that not all mothers cook Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps implying women do all the work is politically incorrect; my apologies if people are offended, but I’m not placing women in the kitchen and arguing mothers should cook Thanksgiving dinner. Your dad cooks? Wonderful! You defrost dinner in the microwave and eat at individual folding tables? Great; I hope there is something good on TV. What’s that? You’re a vegetarian? Enjoy those pale parsnips!

No family is the same as any other.

My mom cooks Thanksgiving dinner; in fact, she cooks every dinner. My family situation is not the way life has to work or should work. The way my family functions is also not something I should have to defend, but misconceptions make it so I must. Stay-at-home moms are misconstrued.

Ever since I noticed not everyone at the lunch table ate peanut butter sandwiches cut into bunny rabbit or heart cookie-cutter shapes, I’ve been aware of two common misconceptions about women who make the choice to stay at home to raise the children they chose to have. My peers, who came to school with pocketfuls of change rather than brown paper bags, looked at my homemade lunches and shook their heads in disgust, as if my bunny rabbit and heart-shaped sandwiches, like bloody weapons, represented some heinous crime. Children of parents with jobs outside the house thought they had my family all figured out: Georgie’s mom must be either privileged or terribly unintelligent.

If a woman stays at home, she is construed as one of two: the trophy wife or the matronly, indolent slob.

I would like to set the record straight. First of all, a trophy wife does not qualify as a stay-at-home mom. More accurately, she is what is called a kept woman, but I suppose it’s easy for people who don’t know what they’re talking about to fail to make the distinction.

They think moms who stay at home don’t actually stay at home at all but instead shop all day, drive their BMX X5s and Porsche Cayennes to the country club, play tennis and golf, fundraise with the DAR, pamper their cuticles with weekly manicures and pedicures and eat nothing more than grapefruit for breakfast.

I have witnessed many people try to sketch an image of a stay-at-home mom and end up painting a portrait of a woman in pearls with a husband so wealthy she can afford not to work outside the home.

Not every stay-at-home mom gets painted so glamorously; some are victims of the ugly sketch. If a woman chooses to stay at home and her family is not seemingly wealthy enough to endure such an economic sacrifice, well then, the only explanation to her staying at home must be her mental incapacity to do anything else. Wearing flannel pajama bottoms and an oversized Disney T-shirt, she does laundry and bakes cookies until 2:30 p.m., when she inelegantly maneuvers her girth into the family’s navy blue minivan and transports her kids and their sticky, germy friends from school to soccer practice and dance class, only to pick them up two hours later.

Automatically assuming a stay-at-home mom is either one or the other, the privileged princess or the stupid slob, is as ridiculous as presuming all little boys play soccer while their sisters dance about in pink tutus and ballet slippers. Erroneous extremes!

There is no denying a woman is privileged to be able to stay at home and raise her children. Her children are equally fortunate that she can be present for every moment, as during childhood, each is a special occasion all on its own.

Being a stay-at-home mom is not a role to which a woman’s mental deficiencies subject her. Stay-at-home moms choose to stay there; it is not that they cannot do anything else with their hours and days, but rather there is nothing they want more to be doing.

We are all here at Villanova taking classes and studying hard to make exciting lives for ourselves. With what we learn, we will do great things and go interesting places, but we must all the while guard ourselves against the arrogance that deludes us into believing the fantastic lives we imagine ourselves leading will make us in any way nobler and more daring than the women whose daily labors have fed our stomachs and fulfilled our hearts.

Each and every moment a stay-at-home mom devotes to her children is her contribution to the betterment of the world. A job outside the home provides the means for a family to enjoy a good living, but the daily labor of a stay-at-home mom creates a good life.

Not only do stay-at-home moms deserve respect, they merit great thanks.

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Georgie Hunt is a junior English major from Pomfret, Conn. She can be reached at [email protected]