TLC has a new show, The Secret Life of Soccer Moms, that “celebrates stay at home mothers” by giving them a chance to leave their families for a week to live the dream careers that they gave up to be a stay at home mom. The pilot episode featured a would-have-been fashion designer who was able to spend a week working for a designer, creating three dresses that were shown in a small fashion show. In the end, the designer offered the mom a full-time job, which she accepted, even though that means getting outside care for their kids. Yay, episode ends and women rejoice. Right?

Upon perusal of the TLC website, I came across the message board for the show. Whoa, stay-at-home-mom backlash! The majority of the posts proclaimed the show to be a horrible encouragement of ripping apart the [wonderful nuclear] family and branded this mother as utterly selfish for choosing her dreams over her children. Accusations flew – including that their hired sitters/day care workers will probably beat their children, and that there’s something wrong with this woman for not finding total fulfillment through raising her children. And yes, someone even blamed the feminist movement for all the world’s problems today. OK, maybe just violence in schools. Yes, that’s the feminist movement’s fault.

Uh, what?

Why doesn’t anyone ever point out that fathers also “abandon” their children when they work full-time outside of the home? Just because the female births the babies does not automatically mean they are the only ones who are capable of raising them. Perhaps it is a generational thing, but when I look at my married/coupled friends (mid-to-late 20s), in over half of them the woman makes more money. Will we ever stop automatically assuming that the woman is in the better position to be the primary care giver? Because at this rate, when my friends start making babies, from a financial perspective, if anyone’s going to stay at home, it should be the fathers.

Moving on … why am I even surprised that the feminist movement still gets blamed for personal shortcomings? The feminist movement gave women choices – to focus on their career, motherhood, both, or neither. But at the end of the day, it’s all about choice. Yet reading this message board, it sounds like women have the freedom of choice – but something’s wrong with the women that don’t choose to be stay-at-home mothers, because that’s the most rewarding thing a woman can do. What would these women say to a woman who chooses to never have children? That she’s ignoring her natural instincts? That there’s clearly something biologically wrong with her?

Oddly enough, only one person on the message board pointed out that these women (as in the women on the show, no finger pointing to the other women on the message board) were privileged to even have the choice to be a stay at home mom, and suggested TLC instead do a show helping out mothers who have to work outside the home. But, other women came right out and said that regardless of your financial situation, mothers shouldn’t work outside the home. If you can’t afford one income, be creative! Find a paying job you can do at home. As if it were that easy.

Newsflash: some families can’t afford to live on one income. Some mothers have no husbands to help them out. Work-from-home jobs are hard to come by, and unless you luckily have a combination of degree and on-the-job experience, most work-from-home jobs won’t support a family.

But believe it or not, some women don’t feel complete satisfaction when focusing 100 percent of their energy on raising children. But this isn’t a feminist issue. This is an issue for all people, regardless of gender. We all should have the freedom to figure out what makes us happy, and pursue those dreams, regardless. Millions of children go to day care or have baby-sitters during their youth while their mothers work, and believe it or not, they turn out fine. I happen to know many, personally. Some women who can afford to stay at home choose not to because they see the benefits in pursuing their own dreams – not only for their personal enrichment, but to set a good example for their children. Don’t you think a child would turn out much better if the child had happy, fulfilled parents, even if there parents were away at work half the day, than a stay at home parent who was unfulfilled, sad and possibly ultimately resentful? I think well-rounded, happy parents are much more beneficial than having someone you share DNA hovering over you 24/7 just because someone thinks that’s their “natural” role.

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