There has been an unusual amount of discussion this election season about the role of the stay-at-home mom, a subject that has been below the media's radar for the past several decades. You'd think it was the '70s all over again.
The renewed interest in the subject was sparked by comments from Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. She said Ann Romney -- the wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney -- "has actually never worked a day in her life." In addition, she said Mrs. Romney never has dealt with the economic issues that women in this country are facing.
Ann Romney replied on Twitter: "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work." In an interview later, Mrs. Romney added: "She should have come to my house when those five boys were causing so much trouble." And laughing -- with a laugh that every mom could relate to -- she said, "It wasn't so easy."
In fact, Romney said her husband often told her that the work she was doing inside the home was even more important than the work he was doing in the business world.
The White House ran a hundred miles from Rosen's comments, and that was because moms across the nation -- and their husbands and children -- agreed with Mitt Romney's message to his wife.
Children are dependent on their parents for survival. They need us to feed, clothe, teach, love, discipline and listen to them.
First lady Michelle Obama, via Twitter, correctly said: "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."
President Barack Obama distanced himself from Rosen's comments, too, saying that Ann Romney "seems like a wonderful woman." The president went on to say that there is "no tougher job than being a mom," adding: "I don't have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates."
So we all seem to agree; everyone recognizes the hard work that goes into being a stay-at-home mother.
Here's why: A stay-at-home mom is on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. She neither gets paid in money nor receives annual performance reviews, and she has no opportunity for bonuses or promotions. There is no water cooler chatter, and there are no fun lunches with co-workers.
However, she does get paid in hugs, kisses, tantrums, whining, laughter and all the joys that go along with motherhood.
As the mother of a 6-month-old girl and a 2 1/2-year-old boy, I can tell you what goes into a typical day. First, the day starts about 6 a.m. I make a fresh pot of coffee and prepare the baby's bottle while making my 2-year-old his breakfast. I get him out of bed, brush his teeth and dress him for school. The two of us then go into his sister's room, change her and get her dressed, and then all three of us proceed into the kitchen.
I strap my 2-year-old into his highchair and serve him breakfast. I then feed the baby. Once everyone is fed and dressed, we pile into the car and drive to my son's preschool. Of course, they need to be lifted into their car seats and then buckled in. After we drop my son off, I rush home to put my baby down for her nap. Once she is asleep, I feed the dogs and tidy up the house. I then prepare lunch for my son. Then my daughter wakes up from her nap.
I change her, carry her to the car and buckle her in before driving to pick my son up from school. Once we all get home, I change him, feed him lunch and put him down for a short afternoon nap. I then entertain my 6-month-old by reading her a story or doing baby exercises. Then I feed her a bottle and put her down for a nap.
Right when she falls asleep, my son is waking up. This is when we do some sort of arts and crafts activity. After we do that, we go outside with the dogs and play. About this time, my daughter wakes up. I then change her and bring her outside with us for some fresh air. After the fun outside, it is bath time. I usually put both kids in the tub. We play with all sorts of bath toys, and I scrub them clean. Once both kids are out of the bath, I change them into their pajamas. My son has strong preferences for which pj's he will wear.
At this point, we go back into the kitchen, where my son eats some dinner in his highchair while I prepare the bottle for his sister. I then feed the baby her last bottle. While I am feeding her the bottle, I am reading to both my son and my daughter. We read lots of books before bed. My son will accompany me as I put his sister to bed. I then read him a few more books and tuck him in.
Once both kids are asleep -- usually about 7:30 -- I can take a shower and eat dinner myself.
A day in the life of a stay-at-home mom is rewarding and fulfilling -- and a whole lot of work, just like any career.