Monday, February 23, 2009

Please . . . not THAT

My morning routine (once the kids have left for school and provided I have no doctors' appointments to rush Owen off to) goes something like this: Turn Chicago Public Radio up (it's already on, but I haven't heard much with 4 kids and a husband milling about in the kitchen). Make myself a bowl of Cream of Wheat. (I prefer Farina, but it's almost $2 more a box.) Do the dishes while the cereal finishes thickening. Eat while I read the news and my emails that require attention. Put my bowl in the dishwasher and clean the kitchen while I continue to listen to the morning news.

And the news, of course, has been less than upbeat lately. But it hasn't made me downright angry until today--and I'm not talking about reviewers who dared give Hugh Jackman anything but high praise for his hosting of the Oscars last night.

I'm talking about one woman interviewed here in Chicago who said she's been eating frozen foods since being laid off a few weeks ago from a well-paying job. A dietitian was interviewed for the same segment. She (dietitian) said people often mistakenly believe eating healthfully means paying more for your groceries. Not so, she insists. You can buy a chicken and vegetables and make a few days' worth of soup for much less than it costs you stock up on a few days' worth of frozen, fat-, sodium-, and preservative-filled pre-packaged meals. This recently laid-off woman said yes, she knew that, was sure she could save "a lot" of money if she made her own meals, but (and here's where my blood pressure starts to go up in spite of the fact that I don't eat those sodium-filled frozen foods) cooking makes her feel too much like a stay-at-home wife and mother.
I know it's old fashioned to stay at home. I've known that since I decided this is where I want to be. I've known that since Ron's female college roommates got angry at him for marrying me, someone who "only" had a Bachelor's degree and who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and who, therefore, was "an insult to feminism." Yes, that's a quote. But not only is it apparently old fashioned, but it's shameful now. At least one woman right here in Chicago would rather go broke buying crap food and then die of heart disease than do anything that might make her feel for a few hours like (gasp!) a stay-at-home wife and mother. Heaven forbid.

Y'know, we, as a society, deserve what's coming to us now. We really do. If we have reached the point where we would rather kill ourselves than live like the middle class, then we deserve to be spiraling downward at a dizzying rate. Glenn Pace of the LDS church said in a talk not terribly long ago that we should *not* be like a parent who, upon seeing his child hurt himself after doing something we told him not to do, says, "Serves you right. You had it coming." And, yeah, sure: ideally, I'd like to be the kind of person who never says "I told you so." But I'm not. I'm disgusted by our sense of entitlement and our downright shame at having to let go of pre-conceived and plain-old wrong notions of what we deserve.

Excuse me now while I go plan tonight's dinner, do some laundry, and vacuum the carpets. Yes, I know, I should be embarrassed to admit that's what lies ahead for me this morning.

And I'm not sure whether that's Cream of Wheat or bile I feel rising in me right now.


Shankar said...

Yay for you. Somewhere societies everywhere have forgotten that the most important "job", if you will, is that of a mother. Why is there more outrage that customer service jobs are being outsourced to Asia than there is that parenting has been outsourced to nurseries, child-care facilities and television?

Bobbie said...

It's the disdain so many women feel for women who *do* choose to stay home that enrages me. I don't know how Europe and India view the working mother/stay-at-home mother controversy, but here in the States, it can get really ugly and emotional. A huge divide often separates the viewpoints. And when someone asserts they don't want to do anything that will make them feel like a stay-at-home wife and mother? That sentiment goes beyond "simply" disdain and seems to approach disgust/abhorrence.

Emily M said...

Hi, Bobbie. Found your blog as I was blog-hopping recently. I love this post. NPR is my adult conversation during the day, as well. When I was listening to the end of the year wrap ups on Talk of the Nation, they were asking for nominations for the person-of-the-year in any field, with the stipulation that you had to be a professional in that field in order to nominate someone. I had to call in and nominate my mom. You can guess how the screener felt about my nomination-- "Thanks, but I don't think we can take your call today." It is really annoying how much what we do is looked down upon by the rest of the world. Throughout the rest of the program, I was comparing the positive influence of whoever they were talking about to the influence of a good mother on the world, and very few of their nominations measured up. At least WE know we have the most important job in the world.

Anonymous said...

Some people just don't get it. It would have made me angry too. Some lady in Chicago is sadly misguided and shamefully ignorant about what is really important.

mnmsalyer said...

I understand that some people need to work outside their homes, some families need both parents to work outside their homes, and the things that work for my family might not necessarily work for many others. I do not understand, however, the way that so many people hold disdain for the work that I do when I am at home with and for my family. It seems to be a timeless issue in our country.

As for Hugh Jackman, he's the reason I had the Oscars tuned in the entire time. (It was tuned in, but I was reading to my daughter for most of the time when Jackman was not on.) I refuse to listen to anyone who has anything bad to say about him, or even to acknowledge the fact that anyone might possibly have some bad thing to say.

By the way, I'm finally tagging you back. :-) I don't think I did it right, but I enjoyed doing it.

Bobbie said...

Marian, that's exactly it, isn't it? I have several friends who work full time outside the home, and I know they're doing what is best for them and their family. They respect me and I respect them. If I were to break down what I do in the course of a day and then hire people to do those same things while I leave the house to get a job so I can pay them, would I be more acceptable to society? Why are being a chef, a housekeeper, a personal assistant, a tutor, and a nanny respectable jobs only if you are *not* doing them for your own family?