My Life. My Choice.

As many of you know, I recently had a baby.  I’m trying to forgive the extra pounds and sleepy eyes but sometimes when I am out running errands I’m glad that I have my tiny baby with me so that people know that I have an excuse.  I don’t want people looking at me and thinking that I am the way I am because I’m lazy, or lack self-control.  I think we can all agree that that kind of thinking is flawed.  I should be more much accepting of the body that has grown and nurtured six babies.  My stretch marks aren’t something to be sneered at and my extra pounds mean so much more than just a need for diet and exercise.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I haven’t had six babies.  Let’s say that I haven’t had any.  Let’s say that I am the way I am and look the way I look because of medication, or a health condition, or because I have an affinity for bread, cheese, and chocolate.  Does that change anything?  Does that change the fact that it’s no one’s business why I look the way I look and it’s inappropriate for anyone to assume anything about my life or character because I am carrying a few extra pounds?  In fact, if someone where to stand up and say, “anyone who chooses not to be a size two is lazy, and impulsive.  We need to make sure that people aren’t making that kind of choice.” there would be an incredible uproar…at least if the statements by the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch that were reported last year are any indication.

So why do we allow people to say that about other areas of our life?  Why do we allow the President to stand up and insult us?  Why do we sit by and  let the “most powerful man in the world” say that we who choose not to work for a monetary gain are not “full and equal participants in our economy”.

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I read the President’s speech.  I read every word, and in between bantering with the audience about Trick or Treating, desperately trying to convince us that Obamacare is working, and accusing anyone who disagrees with his ideas of obstructing “progress”, he insulted me, my choices, and my way of life.

No one would accuse a family who only makes home cooked meals of cheating an aspiring chef out of an income or of putting McDonalds out of business.  So why is it ok to criticize me because I choose to raise my own children instead of working in an office for 50k a year just to turn around and pay our now needed nanny every last cent of that?  Because I am denying a nanny a job in my home I am not a “full and equal participant in our economy”?  Why is it that ME doing the job of raising my children without a salary isn’t as fruitful or worthwhile as paying someone else doing it for me?

The President said:

And so some of this is personal, but some of it is also what we know about our economy, which is it’s changing in profound ways, and in many ways for the better because of the participation of women more fully in our economy.

Well I disagree Mr. President.  I disagree because all of this is personal.  Your mother and grandmother are not the only women in this country and their story isn’t the only one that needs to be told.  What about my story?  Isn’t my story as valid as theirs?  You may see me as a stay at home mom and college dropout but I am so much more than that.  I could go on to explain the reasoning for my choices, but I won’t do that because my reasons and my choices are nobody’s business but my own.  I don’t care if you think that’s not a choice you think American’s should make.  In America we are supposed to have this thing called “liberty”, which means that the individual is in charge of his or her own destiny.  Or as Ben Carson would say, “you are the captain of your own ship.”

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Just as it would be inappropriate for someone to comment on my weight and size, it’s inappropriate for anyone to comment on my choice to stay at home with my children instead of working outside of the home.  Mommy Wars are bad enough without the President taking sides.

Do you have any idea how insulting and degrading this is?  To accuse me of not being a full and equal participant in our nation’s economy because our family dynamics look different than the family across the street?

I will give the president the benefit of the doubt and say that he is NOT trying to force us all into the workplace and indoctrinate our children at an even younger age, but no matter how you twist it, there is no way to get around the fact that he believes that those of us who choose to stay home with our children are not “full and equal participants in our nation’s economy”.  I know this because he said it no less than three times.  There is also an assumption that women who choose to stay home are only doing so out of obligation or necessity and not because we want to.

Now, let’s look past the glaring irony of these words coming from a man who draws his current salary out of our hard-earned paychecks, but to suggest that our nations economy and individual women themselves aren’t flourishing because we choose to participate differently than the marxist ideal is showing ignorance of not only economics, but also human nature.

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I’ll leave it to someone else to explain how wrong he was on the economics (except to say that anyone would realize that freely withdrawing myself from the job market means that someone else has a better chance) but I think I’m enough of an expert on people like me to know that our choices are based on so much more than financial gain.

I stay home with my children because I enjoy their company.  I homeschool my children because I love to learn and explore truth with them.  I haven’t furthered my own formal education because I believe what I am doing now is more important than a piece of paper and what I want to do with my life doesn’t require it.  I know I said I’d leave the economics to someone else but there is an economic phrase that is appropriate in this context: “Opportunity Cost” is the value of the best alternative forgone.  Which basically means that you only have one hour, if you choose to spend it watching TV, you can’t spend that hour reading.  The same thing holds true for money and many other things in life.  I chose not to pursue further formal schooling because thus far it has not been worth it to sacrifice time with my family for a degree, and until the opportunity becomes of greater value than the cost, I will not choose it.  And since so far my choices neither pick your pocket nor break your leg, I would rather the government keep their noses out of them.

You see, we humans make choices based on emotions, situation, likes and dislikes, and plethora of other things that can’t be measured with a paycheck or other economic measuring sticks.  At this time in my life no amount of money could entice me away from the life our family has chosen.

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He also said:

By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool, and let’s make sure that we are making America stronger.  That is good for families; it’s also good for the children, because we know investing in high-quality early childhood education makes all the difference in the world, and those kids will do better. So we need family leave, we need better child care policies, and we need to make sure that women get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.

Yet another misconception (and an economic nightmare I’ll let someone else sort out for you).  I realize that our family is blessed in our ability for me to stay home.  I also know that not everyone wants to stay home.  What I do believe is that very few women facilitate family choices that are against their individual family’s best interests.  We may not all make the same choices, but that doesn’t mean the different choices we make are wrong.  I would like to think that if a woman chooses to go back to work after having a baby it is because she believes it is best for her family (for whatever reason… it’s not my business).  But the fact remains that sometimes a “high-quality preschool” is not good for family and not good for children. Forcing businesses to change their benefits and practices in this way (which, from an economical standpoint, is nearly impossible because, among other things, salaries aren’t standardized and shouldn’t be set by the federal government — just ask the Soviet Union how well that worked out for them) is not good for families, individuals, businesses, or society as a whole.

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It all comes down to freedom.  What is good for my family should not be mandated by the government and neither should this.  Forcing businesses to adopt policies that assume this societal ideology is no different from forcing businesses to adopt a policy that assumes the opposite.  This kind of thing is different from safety regulations which preserve life and limb.  I believe he is right when he said “it’s good policy.  It’s good for business.  It’s good for the economy. ”  But it’s not the government’s place to mandate good business practices.  We the people are a far better at that than Washington.

When you go out to vote on Tuesday.  I want you to ask yourself if the candidates you support are perpetuating a utopian ideal that not everyone may choose, or the freedom to choose their ideals for themselves.  But above all else I encourage you to vote for people who, as Matt Kibbe would say, “don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff“, because when you boil down all of the rhetoric and ideologies, that is what freedom is all about.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Trista Bytheway says:

    I have never heard anyone else vocalize the thoughts of wanting to have their baby with them so others know why they look the way they do; grateful to know I am not alone in that. And great thoughts on our personal choices. I have a formal degree and could have a great paying job and career, but the thought of leaving my children to work full time makes me sick. And I personally believe in our situation my husband would not be where he is today if I worked–being the sole provider has motivated him in a way I don’t think anything else could have. I am grateful for the opportunity we have to make these choices for our family.

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  2. Donna says:

    “…but no matter how you twist it, there is no way to get around the fact that he believes that those of us who choose to stay home with our children are not “full and equal participants in our nation’s economy”. I know this because he said it no less than three times. There is also an assumption that women who choose to stay home are only doing so out of obligation or necessity and not because we want to.”

    Huh, that wasn’t my take-away at all. Nowhere did I read that women who stay at home are somehow less than women who do– what I read was that we need to ensure that the women who do work, can be full and equal participants. This is not a threat to women who forgo working to raise their children, nor is it suggesting that they are not equal, or their choices not valid.

    However, I hate the phrase “participants in our nation’s economy.” What a load of political-buzzphrase crap. How about workforce? Or employees? Say what you mean people! This is where misunderstandings happen, because yes, then it does sound like anyone who doesn’t work doesn’t participate in the economy. I despise this kind of language use. There should be a government mandate against buzzphrases.

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    1. LOL! Now THAT’S a mandate I can get behind ;)

      And as the woman who single handedly keeps amazon.com in business, I don’t think anyone can accuse me of not participating in our economy :)

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