Stand up for stay-at-home motherhood

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Regarding the article “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by Cammie Jones in the October edition of Augusta Family magazine: Ms. Jones has it wrong. The question of whether a mother should provide daily care for her children is anything but difficult, if your mind and heart are in the right place.

I am a stay-at-home mother of a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old. Before I made the decision to stay at home, I was a successful master’s-degreed career woman. The birth of my firstborn changed my life. I had planned to have the baby, spend eight weeks with him at home then slip back into my full-time job.

I was so naïve. After only one day of leaving my baby with a nanny, I accepted what I had been denying. God had given me a new job: mother. I felt guilty that it took me personally witnessing this nanny’s neglect to get me to do my new job. I resigned from my position the next day. It was bittersweet, but my boss was happy, my husband was happy, I was happy and, most importantly, my baby was happy.

Let’s examine the real reason many mothers choose a job outside of the home. The financial excuse is lame at best. Common sense tells us that you buy what you can afford. If you live on one salary, you buy what you can afford with one salary. I don’t shop secondhand, but I did downgrade my sports car for a compact car. A child’s fondest memory won’t be that her mother picked her up from day care in a luxury SUV or had an impressive investment portfolio.

The truth is that the mother does not want to change her life and make raising her children the priority. But that’s one of the great things about America. A woman can choose what she will do with her life. At least one of the “employed” mothers in the article admitted that she would rather be with her co-workers all day than her own children.

Next to self-gratification, the feminist revolution of the 1960s and ’70s was a driving force in stripping babies out of their mothers’ arms. The movement leaders were telling mothers that they weren’t worth anything unless they, too, had jobs like men. The result? A generation of children who were not raised, but simply housed by day care or individuals who really didn’t have a vested interest in them other than a paycheck.

Deep down, these mothers must know that they’re not giving 100 percent at home or work. They’re stretched so thin that they’re invisible to their children, significant others, employers and even themselves. How sad is that?

So instead of publishing a piece that glamorizes the working mother and uses antiquated talking points about “staying at home,” it probably wouldn’t hurt – considering the current condition our society – if media were to offer its readers a pro-stay-at-home-mom perspective.

Lisa S. Leonard

North Augusta, S.C.

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shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 10/08/11 - 11:20 pm
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The biggest problem is that

The biggest problem is that many mothers don't have husbands that make enough money to support a family like your husband obviously can. Many don't have a husband at all. Many of my wife's friends would love to stay home unfortunetly the child support they recieve isn't even enough to raise the child.

That being said I was very lucky to have a stay at home mom. I was the youngest of three and once I was old enough to trust home alone (I believe I was 12 or 13) my mother went to nursing school and became a registered nurse when she was over 50. A job she kept until well into her 70's.
I understand what you're saying and it really is a good letter. You are one of the lucky ones and your child is even luckier!

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 10/09/11 - 02:33 am
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Amen, Mrs. Leonard. And, SFB,

Amen, Mrs. Leonard.

And, SFB, more of the biggest problems are unwed mothers who have no husbands(only F-boys), and wed parents who value MORE house, clothes, cars, cell phones, etc. more than they value spending their time and energies with their kids. Put another way: the latter group acts as if having more is more important than the proper rearing of their children. Put a third way: covetous, wed parents are unwilling to sacrifice their Pavlovian quests for more material possessions on the altar of offspring betterment.

shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 10/09/11 - 04:06 am
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Amen Craig. And Craig why are

Amen Craig.
And Craig why are we up so late? I've had insomnia for 5 days now. Hopefully my wife will let me nap on the couch while I watch football. Thank goodness the kids will be off with their friends as usual.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/09/11 - 07:01 am
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Are you men aware that some

Are you men aware that some men push their other half to work....more play toys for them & a lighter load...... don't be too quick to blame the females...& shrimp the addiction is working now (posting on here) so try to enjoy it. :O)

agustinian
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agustinian 10/09/11 - 07:03 am
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Dear Ms. Leonard, Thank

Dear Ms. Leonard,

Thank you for a wonderful letter. You speak the truth. Staying home to raise children is one of the hardest things to do. Your time and energy are spread in many different directions, you feel like you aren't getting anywhere, you don't get any external appreciation (especially from the popular culture), and you go to bed very, very tired. But, nothing is more important to a child and secondarily to society, then that a child be raised by a loving parent at home. I don't have the capacity to do it, and so I admire what you did, and I know your children will be better for it.

Thank you

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 10/09/11 - 07:21 am
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Good letter, excellent

Good letter, excellent points!

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 10/09/11 - 07:24 am
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I had a friend who worked at

I had a friend who worked at a preschool, and reported that some parents still brought their little ones to the school every day -- even when the parents had a holiday from work. Why bring kids into the world to simply pay someone else to raise them for you? It does not take a village to raise a family -- it takes a committed mom and dad!

Techfan
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Techfan 10/09/11 - 07:48 am
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It's not just luxuries. Since

It's not just luxuries. Since the real income of most families hasn't increased since around 1980, most don't have that option.

Jane18
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Jane18 10/09/11 - 09:43 am
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Not only do I remember,

Not only do I remember, happily, the times I spent taking care of my children(stepchildren and biological son), they remember also. We have so many fun and important times to talk about when we are together. The day my stepdaughter(she was only 2 years old when her Dad and I married)told me she "admired" me for the Mama and woman I was to marry a man with children, raise them, and later worked a job(as a divorced mother of her and my son---yes she came with me). Doesn't get much better, does it?Sometime I wish I could do it all again!

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 10/09/11 - 10:04 am
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I am easily offended, so it

I am easily offended, so it didn't take much of Lisa Leonard's self-serving, condescending letter to set me off. I raised three children while working at a professional career full time. My children, now a physician, and attorney, and a published writer, are happy, married, and parents themselves. Don't preach to me Ms. Leonard. If you are satisfied being a full-time mom, go for it, but your snide, unfair, and inaccurate put-downs of women who make other choices is repugnant. No one has mentioned one of the most important reasons for a mother to work for pay, and that is the issue of power. No matter how reasonable the father is, no matter how sensitive he may be to his wife and family and their legitimate financial needs, the person earning the money is in a unique position of power in the household. My husband was very understanding and generous, but there were many times when I felt demeaned by having to ask him for more money. Simply put, money is power, and the psychology of the power dynamics in a family is directly related to both personal and marital satisfaction. Even wives who think their husbands would never act on the power they have as sole earners may be deceiving themselves. So long as that power is there, it can be used.
I never, never ever put myself in that position and it worked just fine for me.

Jane18
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Jane18 10/09/11 - 10:47 am
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Why in this world would

Why in this world would you,eee, be offended by Lisa's letter? I doubt she would be offended by your feelings of staying home or not staying home with your children. I do wonder why you felt demeaned by asking your husband for money, and why you had to ask. My husband asked me, and that was always, working or not working. They made it, I paid it!

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/09/11 - 11:01 am
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Yes, no doubt, there are a

Yes, no doubt, there are a lot of frazzled moms trying to have it all who end up having nothing. And much can be said for assigning priorities/values beyond materialism.

However, the problem we have in this discussion is believing that motherhood is a one size/plan fitting all households and that if everyone doesn't do it, the way we do it, they are wrong.

There is no debate that stay at home moms (can) have the home court advantage for all the obvious reasons. Notice I said, CAN. There are just as many stay at home moms who are miserable failures as parents and role models as well as many moms who have been able to balance work with motherhood. It's a personal/family choice and neither side should be made to feel less than or somehow lazy or evil.

It would be more valuable to examine who we ARE, rather than focus so much on what we DO. More is caught, than taught.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 10/09/11 - 11:00 am
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Oh, please, Jane18, get real.

Oh, please, Jane18, get real. Leonard's letter in effect accuses paid working mothers of placing their own gratification above the well-being of their children, of handing off their babies to be "housed" in daycare by neglectful employees, of being brainwashed by feminist leaders. She calls mothers like me "sad." And you don't "get" why I am offended? And isn't it nice your husband is sensitive and thoughtful--so far.... There are many, many women who know exactly what I am talking about. What truly is "sad" is that so few of them feel safe in admitting they ultimately are powerless to do much about their financial dependency. When I was young, I was determined I would do what I could to limit my dependency on others, including and especially, a husband. That was the best idea I ever had.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/09/11 - 11:04 am
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Why oh why do we continue to

Why oh why do we continue to compare ourselves to others ...when are we going to get what Paul said about that?

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/09/11 - 11:09 am
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eel, I completely agree with

eel, I completely agree with your idea about preparing yourself to be independent. The ablility to be interdependent with one's spouse is not the same as being completely dependent upon him. You were wise beyond your years. I have befriended many over the years, who were unable to care for themselves and children and as a result lived in misery.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/09/11 - 05:30 pm
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Ladies, this is the goal.

Ladies, this is the goal.

Proverbs 31:10-31
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 10/09/11 - 11:28 am
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Glad it's working out for Ms.

Glad it's working out for Ms. Leonard and hope it continues to work out for her. Unfortunately it does not work out for thousands of women who found their whole world ripped from under them when their husband discovers drug use (yeah, happens to a lot of middle class people), alcohol, decides to cut her purse strings when she needs the money for the children so he can buy his toys, invests all their money in a bad investment, loses his job, abuses her, hides his assets, leaves her for a younger woman, dies and she finds the insurance is not there due to him allowing it to lapse. Like eee, I find her letter very condescending to those of us who worked either by choice or by necessity. Being a stay at home mom is a wonderful luxury and I do not deny her that, but I hope she has all her ducks in a row in case the future does not provide her the rosiness she thinks it does.

craig spinks - your disgusting sexism is duly noted. I noticed that you seem to feel that all the responsibility falls on the women and that they are the problem, not the irresponsible young men who can't keep their "little friend" tucked in their pants and refuse to use a condom and then refuse to take care of the multiple babies they father. I know a young man who had three young women who all thought they were in an exclusive relationship with him pregnant at the same time. He is taking care of none of the three babies. Sexual responsibility lies with both parents. At least these women are not killing or abandoning their offspring.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/09/11 - 11:30 am
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I've been qued, but

I've been qued, but hopefully, the AC will allow my post showing what I believe to be the best description of the goals we should strive for in being both wife and mother.

Papillon
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Papillon 10/09/11 - 11:50 am
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Thanks for the time warp.

Thanks for the time warp. Instead of critiquing the nuclear family model, capitalism, or the fact that the US has the shortest maternity leave in the developed world, let's just blame selfish women. (http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6743707/k.219/Stat...) Women and their families make different choices at different times that are the best for themselves and their children. Since my husband is a student, I work so that I can provide health care for my daughter and not use government aid programs. My work with a non-profit organization also allows me to create a better, more just world for my daughter to grow in. Shame on those who create false divisions between women (who work-in-the-home or work-outside-the-home) who have the same goals of caring for their children, their families, their communities, and the world.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/09/11 - 11:53 am
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Cassandra, what you are

Cassandra, what you are describing is an epidemic in our society. Women have to learn how to choose better partners initially, and even in doing so, you are correct when you say that there are no guarantees and she should be prepared with skills and education.

Women don't know how to ask the right (or any) questions of themselves much less of the potential partner until they are in it up to their eyeballs. Marriage is more about physical/social attraction and then it hits the fan. It is much easier to parent when two truly become one and not a lot of that is happening today.

I apologize for so many posts, this is my topic.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 10/09/11 - 12:52 pm
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Choosing wisely has no vision

Choosing wisely has no vision on the future. There are countless women who chose a man who fit everything that one should look for in a mate, be married for years, in some cases decades only to find out he was secretly a different person on the side that no one knew, or to have him have a change of habits/ personality. If you choose to stay at home, I'm all for your choice, just be sure that while at home you are preparing for yours and your children's potential change in future.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 10/09/11 - 01:16 pm
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Oh, one more thing. Lisa

Oh, one more thing. Lisa Leonard suggests the Women's Movement tried to make mothers feel guilt over not working for pay. She says nothing about the ongoing campaign, especially on the religious right, to make women feel guilty if they do. I imagine that's where Leonard is coming from. Her baby a new job from God? She felt guilty about day care? The religious right, most of whose ideas are promoted by men, is a transparent effort to take women back to the 1950s and before. Based on her rationalizations, Lisa Leonard has fallen for that message hook, line, and sinker.

LMH
46
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LMH 10/09/11 - 01:19 pm
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I thought my generation (Gen

I thought my generation (Gen X) had put this dead horse in the ground long ago, but I guess there are still some of us who insist on continuing to beat it.
What you enjoy, Mrs. Leonard, is a luxury most women today absolutely CANNOT afford. By all means enjoy it, but do not ever make the mistake of judging other women by the way they MUST live their lives.
I wonder what advice you have for those widowed moms whose husbands were recently killed overseas? How about those moms who recently had to deal with divorce? What about those whose husbands have been laid off and have been looking for work for months or years now? They cannot stay home.... does this make them any less a good mother? By your standards, yes. I wonder how my friends in these situations would react to your letter?
Wake up. Your argument begins with the premise that ALL women with children are married to a man making enough money to support a family. Yours obviously makes enough for two automobiles.....you yourself had to let us know you never buy secondhand, but you downgrade. How noble.
The real world is out there waiting for all of us........ I wonder, do you plan on returning to work once your child is old enough for school?
I wish the best of luck when you try.

effete elitist liberal
3112
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effete elitist liberal 10/09/11 - 01:53 pm
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The tide seems to have

The tide seems to have turned. The warm fuzzy "Amens," "Thank yous," and "Good letters" of the earliest posters have been replaced by the voices of real women living in the real world. This doesn't happen often enough in these pages, so it has been nice to see.

Momoffour
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Momoffour 10/09/11 - 01:55 pm
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Let me first say that I have

Let me first say that I have been on both sides of this fence. I was a SAHM for 5 years and am now a working mom. I would like to direct your attention to the fact that you are very financially blessed to even have the dream of a luxury SUV and an investment portfolio. Those things are not in our vocabulary with 2 working parents and 4 young children. The fact that you "don't buy secondhand" also tells me that you do not live the in world that many of the rest of us do. Again, you are blessed and need to thank God daily that you even have the choice to stay home. Many of us don't. Staying at home is a personal choice, as is working outside of the home. This is a choice that no one on either side of the coin should feel condemned for. It is a personal choice between God and her family and that is where it should stay!! I might also direct you to the Biblical perspective of priorities within ones life. The order of these are God first, then husband, then children. I'd like to know how I'm putting my husband in his rightful place in my life if I am not preparing financially for our retirement in which our little glowing cherubs will be off living their own lives and I will be left to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. The operative word here is BALANCE!!! Without it you are not living a Godly life, no matter what choices you are making! I pray you take a serious look at your combative position on this very volatile topic and begin to see that there are always 2 sides to every coin.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/09/11 - 02:07 pm
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eel.....Most of us know that

eel.....Most of us know that one size doesn't fit all...like you I believe we each do what is best for our family...what others think doesn't really matter...I've done both...but the stay at home didn't last long.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 10/09/11 - 02:21 pm
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No one has really said too

No one has really said too much about one of the root causes of the problem: irresponsible MEN who procreate, then bolt. A single mom has no choice but to work to support her kids (or go on the gov't dole). Where is the dad in all this? If he is dead, sick, or disable, that is one thing. But, if he is able-bodied and refuses to support the children he fathered, then HE is the root problem. Any culture where single mom homes are the rule, rather than the exception, is headed for problems.

If a respectable man becomes a husband and a father (in that proper order), then many problems can be avoided. That said, I think one of the points Ms. Leonard makes is that instead of having that bigger home or that fancier car, put kids first. When my wife and I were marred we made a pact to be parents and forego daycare. Believe me, it was tough getting along on 1 or one-and-a-half incomes. Many times we passed as I returned home from work just as she was leaving for a part-time night job. But, we took care of our own kids, and sacrificed to do so. Looking back, we still believe that was one of the very best decisions we've ever made. Our kids are proof of that. But, it took 2 parents working together and sacrificing for the benefit of our children to make it happen.

There is no problem with a married woman working full-time, as long as she and her husband do no put material things or social status ahead of raising their children. Heck, let the woman work and have the man stay home, if that is what they prefer. Just make the welfare of your own children the priority. I have seen too many homes where dollars were more important than daughters or sons. That's where you must draw the line.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 10/09/11 - 02:59 pm
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I'm wondering if Mrs.

I'm wondering if Mrs. Leonard's story would be different today if she had found a competant nanny to care for her little one from the beginning. Seems this decision to stay at home only came after neglectful childcare.

dotherightthing
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dotherightthing 10/09/11 - 04:00 pm
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Willow: I LOVE THIS: "There

Willow: I LOVE THIS: "There are just as many stay at home moms who are miserable failures as parents and role models as well as many moms who have been able to balance work with motherhood. It's a personal/family choice and neither side should be made to feel less than or somehow lazy or evil. " Amen, you said it and nothing else comes close. I am a working mother (married, husband works full time) and one of our huge debts we have to pay off is that we had two chikldren and had horrible insurance. We were married so there was little assistance made available to us. We both work to provide a better life (now and in the future) for our children. I think mothers who take care of their children and family and make them a priority regardless of their employment status are awesome! Mrs. Leonards letter is more along the lines of someone who is trying to be a bully than the compassionate stay-at-home moms I know

dotherightthing
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dotherightthing 10/09/11 - 04:04 pm
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@howcanweknow: I know someone

@howcanweknow: I know someone who works at a MDO and stay-at-home mothers bring their children in their all the time, every day, then go home with no other children at home. So why is that acceptable? But a working parent can't do they same? I hate how one sided this is

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