Oprah revisited the ultimate mommy question on her show yesterday. “My Baby or My Job: Why Elizabeth Vargas Stepped Down.” I don’t think I’ve blogged about this here before (though I’ll look through my archives and check), so I want to do so now. I’ll give you a rundown of the show – especially a few of the comments that really struck a chord with me – and then share my thoughts on the subject.
I came into the show late – about the last half hour. Apparently in the first part of the show, Oprah interviewed Elizabeth Vargas about her choice to stay home with her newborn baby instead of staying in her high-profile job as anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight.
The part I saw dealt with the members of a discussion panel – if you visit the link above, it starts on screen “6 of 13.” I don’t have a transcript of the show, so I’ll just do my best from the notes I scribbled as I watched and the recap provided on the Oprah Show website.
First of all, my biases. My son was born in February of 2006, and I returned to work for nine weeks in March-May of 2006. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the fifteen months since then. Now then, on to the show.
Barbara, a working mother of three, said that
“If you don’t have something that is your own, then your kids become everything. And you need to make that separation about what you’re doing for your kids and what you’re doing for yourself.”
I can see her point, to a certain extent. It’s not healthy to sublimate your every thought, emotion, and need within the roles of housewife and mother. As an adult woman, you need to have time and space for yourself – time to affirm your intellect, to nourish your spirituality, to nurture your emotional self. However, I disagree that the only way to maintain your sense of self is to pursue employment outside the home.
Women who stay home make a powerful choice to do something “for their kids” and they often make sacrifices which make their choice possible. They also make the choice to find necessary “separation” in other avenues. You can enjoy adult conversation at church – a great, stimulating debate at a book group – a peaceful meditation during naptime – a “break” from the day to day doldrums at the spa – a creative outlet in a hobby, a class, or a blog (:-). For women who stay-at-home because they BELIEVE they are making the best choice for their children, Barbara’s comment rings empty and hollow – it’s a false argument in favor of working.
She went on to say that it’s
“more important… that you’re around when your kids are teenagers. You know, anybody can read your kid a book or cuddle your kid.”
One stay-at-home mom took exception to her remarks.
“I think that sometimes using phrases like that minimizes what being a stay-at-home