By Heather O.
I try not to get too political on this blog, because it generally doesn’t end very well. Politics tends to make everybody get a little nutty, and I’m crazy enough as it is. But in light of the comments by Ms. Rosen recently about how Ann Romney never worked a day in her life and therefore doesn’t understand economics, well, I just can’t keep my mouth shut.
I get what Rosen is trying to say, I do. Ann Romney comes from privilege and is married to a bazillionaire. It’s not unfair to imply that the Romneys might not understand the financial struggles that the average American faces, particularly in these tough economic times. Bottom line, Ann Romney is rich, and being rich is easier than being poor.
I have worked more than a day in my life. When my husband started law school, we were solely dependent on my income to live. It was stressful, particularly on those weeks when my promised 40 hours of work ended up being closer to 30, or, one terrifying week, only 24. I looked at my time card with that scant 24 hours written in, and I thought, “I hope we can pay rent this month.” And when I got pregnant, we had to make the very difficult decision about what we would do in terms of income–pay for day care while I went back full time, or have me stay at home and bite the bullet with student loans? In the end, we hobbled together a compromise. I went back full time for a short while, then cut back to per diem work, and we took out student loans to make up the difference.
Throughout our marriage, my husband and I have constantly been re-evaluating our financial position. I went back to work briefly a few years ago when money was tighter than we were comfortable with, and then again, we had to make the decision to return to one income when my husband changed jobs. Every year we revisit the idea of me working, as we evaluate where we are financially, and what our financial goals are.
I don’t think we are unique.
Most families I know where the mom stays home, the mom is involved with financial decision making. I know many mothers who are solely in charge of the household budget, making daily decisions about allocating funds. I have one friend who sheepishly admitted that she took $1.99 from her grocery budget to buy more tokens for an game she was playing on her iphone. Another friend laughed and replied, “Way to sacrifice the eggs!” We all laughed, but it struck me that we were laughing because we all know the intricacies that go into forming a household budget, and WE ALL KNOW HOW MUCH EGGS COST. Economics at its basic level, if you ask me.
I don’t know if Ann Romney ever had these kinds of conversations with her husband, but dismissing her skills as an economist just because she’s a stay at home mom is unfair and ignorant. Ann Romney might not understand the necessity of accounting for $1.99 in the grocery budget, but I have no doubt she understands the cost of clothing for her children, missions for 5 boys, and college tuition. It would surprise me greatly if she and her husband didn’t counsel together about how they were going to pay for these things, even if the questions were different than the ones my husband and I ask each other.
And while being rich is easier than being poor, being rich can get complicated. How does Mitt Romney manage his millions? What funds does he invest in? How does he balance cash flow, liquidity, and retirement benefits? How does he make sure that his money works for him? The man is richer than God, so clearly he has figured these things out. If he figured these things out without consulting his wife, I’d be shocked.
I know there are mothers are there on the front lines who are hanging on by their fingernails, wondering how they are going to do it. And Ms. Rosen is right that Ann Romney has never been one of them. But that doesn’t mean Ann Romney doesn’t understand economics, or the challenges or raising children, or that staying at home has made her stupid.
Just because stay at home moms don’t make the money doesn’t mean we don’t understand how it works.
And an attack on motherhood from a woman doesn’t help anybody.
That’s all I wanted to say. We will return to our regularly scheduled program with posts about my garden shortly.