One of the people I most admire in this world, my mom, was a young wife and mother who stayed at home with me and my three sisters for most of our childhood. Besides preparing meals, keeping the house clean, and handling the various challenges that arise in a house of children, my mom managed the family finances and homeschooled us. Largely because of her work, all of us are now college grads or successful college students.
Blogger Amy Glass, takes issue with women like my mom and apparently thinks she is entitled to look down on them just because they make different choices than she does.
Amy claims housework isn’t “real” work without explaining what, exactly, would be required to meet this definition. She states, “Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business.” Who is equipped to make such an overarching and elitist judgment about value? The implication is that handling responsibilities in the home in exchange for sharing one income is somehow an illegitimate exchange or an example of freeriding.
The value of clean laundry, like any other good or service in an economy, is an individual preference to be determined within exchanges. Just because the value of a person’s contribution doesn’t easily translate to a specific dollar amount, doesn’t mean there is no value. If someone in the household did not do these tasks they would simply be outsourced. What if someone opens a laundry business? Does that meet Amy’s definition of “real” work?
As a preschool teacher, my mom now has many of the same responsibilities she had when she was a stay at home mom. Since she is getting monetary compensation for her contribution to the lives of children, I wonder if she has graduated to Amy’s definition of “real” work.
There is an argument for the idea that too much emphasis and pressure is put on people to make certain life choices. I can get on board with Amy’s idea of celebrating other life milestones in the same way we have showers for weddings and births. If Amy wants to extend that to backpacking across Asia, instead of looking down on others, she should go ahead and start throwing these for her friends. I don’t plan on giving birth or getting married anytime soon but if anyone wants to throw me a “shower” for a trip to New Zealand, go for it! I will also be glad to come to the bridal or baby shower of my friends even though I don’t aspire to have either one for myself.
Making a life choice that is better for yourself doesn’t mean that your choice is objectively superior for everyone or that there is something inherently wrong with all the other life choices. My mom’s choices certainly weren’t right for me, but neither would choosing to be an engineer or a doctor. That doesn’t mean I should look down on others who make those choices or scoff at them for celebrating the milestones of their chosen path in life.