What Feminists Don’t Understand About Work and Motherhood

 

Last week a feminist writer waded into the mommy wars; well not so much waded in but threw a bomb into them:

To Twitter’s credit, most people didn’t take the bait; it’s not worth explaining to someone completely unfamiliar with motherhood why a mother might want to stay home and raise her children herself. But here I am, trying to explain that decision.

Last night I was on a Clubhouse call (for those unfamiliar, it’s a new social networking app that allows you to create global conference calls that you can listen in on and/or participate in) about sex, that devolved pretty quickly into a conversation about motherhood. One software developer said something extremely risque: She went into the job looking for the flexibility necessary to one day have a “lot of kids” (the number we’re slated to have come summertime) and stay home with them. She mentioned something I had never heard of before: Jeff Bezos’ “Regret Minimization Framework” which just amounts to “I don’t want to regret anything when I die.” It’s explained here,

A mental model is a way to think about the world. It is how we respond and make decisions on the things we encounter in daily life. No single model is right for every person, so it’s important to understand what works for you. You need to understand how you perceive the world and what you hold important. Furthermore, different models work for different situations.

For Bezos, the model he used for this decision became the Regret Minimization Framework. While simple, it’s what got him to take action on the idea he had been incubating for some time. It was what turned a difficult decision into an easy one.

It all starts with a question: In X years, will I regret not doing this?

This is basically how I live my life already, although it differs in one very distinct way from what Jill Filipovic and Jeff Bezos prioritize: I don’t want to regret any decision I make, and I place more importance on not regretting personal decisions than professional or business ones. I can pinpoint this prioritization to one place and one time: The evening of December 28, 2002, the night my mother died with me, her only child, alone by her side. Her estranged parents were standing off in a corner, uncomfortable fully engaging in the scene, a few friends similarly hung back from this extremely personal and raw moment. It was just me and my mother. When I consider my regret minimization framework, it centers around my deathbed looking different. When I was helping write my mother’s obituary, I couldn’t remember all the places she had worked, but the fact that I was alone in the funeral director’s office putting her funeral in place was crystal clear. When I decided to stay home with my kids when my oldest was born over seven years ago, I did so because I knew I would rather spend my short time on Earth with her than anyone else, doing anything else.

In response to Jill’s tweet, I saw a similar feeling expressed by a widow whose deceased wife had stayed home with her children. Excuse the profanity, but it perfectly encapsulated how I felt about Jill’s original tweet:

It’s honestly a sad way to look at the world, just within the framework of a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to one’s bottom line. Our bottom line is… low, it’s low, but our happiness quotient is very high.

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  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Let’s take that tweet apart line by line:

    “I would also argue that when you’re married, no, you don’t get to decide these things unilaterally.”

    Hey. No argument there. When you are married you don’t get to decide important things unilaterally – either as a husband or a wife. That’s what Paul means about the whole “one flesh” thing. The two of you are now a greater whole and you have to work by consensus.

    “If I came to my husband and said I am going to quit my job and dedicate all of my time to keeping our household, now I need your income, I think he’s in his rights to say, uh, no.”

    That is correct, too, but in this context it is a strawman argument. Quitting a job – for either husband or a wife – is one of those big things you decide by consensus. It’s pretty scurvy to ambush a spouse with that type of decision without prior consultation. So, yeah. He is within his rights to say no.  However, having kids is one of those big things, too.  The issue of child care should have been addressed before the arrival of the child – and should be subject to amendment afterwards (when you discover those blithe assumptions you made before delivery were so much twaddle).

    “And now I am really going to get myself yelled at, but I also think the issue of example-setting for a kid is a totally fair one.”

    Also painstakingly self obvious. Parents set examples for the child to follow.

    “What example are you setting when dad works for pay and mom does the care work at home?”

    Umm . . . that your children are so precious you are not willing to subcontract their care to minimum wage employees invested in nothing more than a paycheck? That was pretty much the consensus of Janet and me when our children were young. That they were the most important things in our lives and – if it were to any extent possible one of the two of us would be home guarding and nurturing that investment. It happened to be her staying at home when I could make more than she could and me when she could make more than me. (So mostly she stayed home.)

    “Lots of reasons not to want to set that example for a child.”

    The only statement in her two tweets that I can take issue with. But that attitude is her problem. Not mine. After all those kids who were given the example you don’t have to put yourself out for those for whom you are responsible are going to be picking out her nursing home when she is to old to look after herself. (So will my kids. I know they plan to follow the example set by Janet and me. They kept an eye on me after she died, and continue to do so.)
     

    • #1
  2. She Member
    She
    @She

    I regret that I only have one like to give @seawriter’s comment #1.  Clearly this Jill woman is completely ignorant about what marriage is and how it works.  Apparently she’s an “attorney and author” who seems to make a living blogging stupid things.  I’ve never heard of her.

    She’s been married since 2018.  I’m trying not to project any conclusions from what I read in this tweet into her personal circumstances.

    • #2
  3. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    “What example are you setting when dad works for pay and mom does the care work at home?”

    Umm . . . that your children are so precious you are not willing to subcontract their care to minimum wage employees invested in nothing more than a paycheck?

    No freakin’ kidding.  I can’t imagine how self-absorbed she must be, to fail to consider the perspective of her children.  

    Sometimes, both parents have to work.  That’s life, sometimes.  You gotta do what you gotta do.

    But, given the option, she thinks she’s setting a good example for her children by leaving them, to go make some money?  What kind of example is that?  That neglecting your children is noble?  That money is more important than your own children?

    Talk about trying to rationalize away your guilt.  Golly.

    • #3
  4. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    I note that ‘progressives’ are big into ‘artisan’ things…artisan cheese, artisan bread, artisan furniture…if there was an option to buy artisan *cars*, lovingly hand-crafted by Ecuadorian villagers using their traditional metalworking skills, they’d probably go for that as well.

    But when it comes to artisan child-raising, their views tend to be different…

     

    • #4
  5. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    One can only ponder the depths of wrongness required to make women feel guilty about fulfilling the uniquely defining role of womanhood.

    • #5
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    This reminds me of watching one of the Democratic Presidential Primary debates last cycle, when they were talking about federally funding daycare services.  The candidates came extremely close to saying that no one should suffer the indignity of raising their own children.  Good post, Bethany.

    • #6
  7. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    David Foster (View Comment):

    I note that ‘progressives’ are big into ‘artisan’ things…artisan cheese, artisan bread, artisan furniture…if there was an option to buy artisan *cars*, lovingly hand-crafted by Ecuadorian villagers using their traditional metalworking skills, they’d probably go for that as well.

    But when it comes to artisan child-raising, their views tend to be different…

     

    A very good analogy.

    • #7
  8. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    My wife stays home with our kids. She feels guilty about it sometimes. Not because she isn’t pulling her weight or because she’s modeling harmful behavior. She feels guilty sometimes because the tradeoff involved means that I don’t get as much time with the family as I would want while she gets exactly what she wants. On the other hand I know that her tradeoff is never being “off duty”. We only kind of knew what we were committing to. Yes I would like to be more involved; yes she would like to hang up the Mom hat for a week every now and again. Even now, though, neither of us would have it differently. 

    • #8
  9. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Now that I am old…I am really, really happy that I was able to stay home and raise our children when they were little. Yes, we were poor–cash-wise. Yes, we didn’t go on fancy vacations, or have new cars. But, now that I am old—I see how quickly that time of their lives zoomed past, and how important those years were in their lives to be in their own home, with their own mom and dad. Dad worked, yes. And we both knew when we decided to have children that I would stay home and be the mom and he would go out and be the dad who earned our money. And, now that we have grandchildren old enough to be seniors in high school, we’re both still really happy that we made those choices. I went to work when our youngest was in high school, and it was a good time to have the extra money, and I’m retired now after 25 years of school teaching. I’m just glad that we figured out how to do it like we did, because we have no regrets at all. 

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Bethany Mandel:

    My late wife was a stay at home mom. She lived for and ultimately died loving our children. It was her full time job. I can write so much more on this subject, but suffice it to say that belittling her decision to prioritize our children over “work” [REDACTED] pisses me off. https://t.co/zThDNDNYZM

    — Matthew Kolken (@mkolken) March 11, 2021

    This guy says it all.  The feminists are worried a stay-at-home mom (even one that works from home) sets a bad example to her kids because it shows how important they are.  It may make daughters more likely to become stay-at-home moms themselves, and sons to marry women who want to be stay-at-home moms.  Even friends of the stay-at-home-mom’s kids notice how Mrs. Smith is always there, unlike their moms.

    Nope, feminists have to bad mouth everything traditional about women, whether it’s behaving in a feminine fashion or assuming traditional family roles.

    • #10
  11. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Stay-at-home Moms negate some of the harmful influences of the State on children.  Kids not sent to daycare are not indoctrinated with leftist propaganda.  And a certain number of stay-at-home Moms home-school their children, also avoiding that leftist indoctrination.  Feminists are not happy about that.

    • #11
  12. JayMiller Lincoln
    JayMiller
    @JayMiller

    My wife stayed home and home-schooled our nine children. She had a job as a caseworker resettling refugees with World Relief and they pleaded with her to return after our first was born but it just didn’t work for us. We had to sacrifice a lot to make this work, especially in the early years, but the payoff was and is tremendous! The children are thriving, five are married so far, and grandchildren are arriving. And they are (the older ones) confident, secure adults and not living in my basement! I have six daughters and I’d be thrilled if they followed in their mother’s footsteps, but that will be their decision. 

    • #12
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