I watched an odd thing unfold recently on my personal Facebook page. One of my friend’s posted about a horrible daycare experience she had that involved her toddler. Her babysitter lost her kid for over an hour. And it was the police that called her about it, not the daycare.
She was basically venting her frustrations about daycare options in her town. She lives in a very small town, less than 2,000 people. So options are limited to say the least. Most people were supportive and appalled that the daycare let it happen.
Then came the entitled person who flipped out and blamed the mom, because the mom worked. Even told her, it was her fault and if she wanted to be a mom she should stop working and take care of her kid.
My friend responded, “so you want me to be a welfare mom?” The person lost it even more at this. Complaining in all capital letters that she should rely on her husband to make money and she should focus on being a mother and stop this bullshit modern woman crap where moms work and that’s what is wrong with society.
A little background. My friend has a 2 year old daughter. Last year, she left her husband after he broke the 2 year old daughter’s leg when he grabbed her by it and tossed the kid because the then 1 year old girl wouldn’t stop making noise. He also had a history of beating up my friend and cheating on her during their short 3 year courtship and marriage. She is a single mom who does not get child support, because she worries if she gets support, her abusive ex will get visitation rights.
She has two options; work or live on welfare. She’s got a degree in pharmaceutical medicine and therefore works as a pharmacist. We later found out the rageful woman blaming her for her daughter going missing was a regular customer of hers that she had friended because it’s a small town and everyone knows everyone.
After several people jumped on the case of the enraged woman telling her to basically shut the hell up, she apologized. But the damage was done.
Here’s the thing, I look at it from a slightly different standpoint. Since the beginning of civilization there have always been women who needed to work to support their families. Even in ancient Sumer, there were women who had to work to provide for their kids. Fathers were deserting families even back in those days and with the break down of the small community, came the breakdown of community support provided to women and children without male providers. The idea that all women stayed home and took care of their kids until the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s is a myth.
Worse, having the ability to be a housewife and child raiser is actually a luxury of the upper middle class and wealthy. Interestingly, while the wealthy in societies can afford to do this, they usually hire poorer women to take care of their kids.
Furthermore, in today’s modern society in the US, it takes considerably more money to be a member of the upper middle class than it did in the 1960s and 1970s, meaning even fewer mothers have access to the luxury of being a stay at home mom as a full time job. And it’s not just single mothers this applies to. I have plenty of married friends where just the husband’s salary isn’t enough to allow the wife to be a stay at home mom.
This means the women who went off on my friend, didn’t just have misplaced rage because my friend worked, but she had misplaced rage based on the myth that when she was growing up, all women stayed home and took care of their children, “like a mother should”.
I consider these myths (much like the myth of teen pregnancy) not just fanciful, but dangerous. If we continue to perpetuate this myth of happy domestic bliss, we also continue to tell generations of upcoming parents that they are failures before they even start, because they can’t afford to be stay at home parents and still manage to buy a house, own cars, and afford the basics of life; like health care or healthy foods for their kids. Except that reality never really existed. Death is a part of life, and being a bad husband and father isn’t a brand new concept that started in the last two centuries. And we run the risk of encouraging women to stay in abusive relationships because it’s better than being a working mom. Abusive relationships that realistically could end in death for her or for one of her children.