Disclaimer: I don't know who Matt Walsh is, although a quick search revealed that he is making enough waves that there's a website called whatismattwalshwrongabouttoday.com. That's okay; if people feel the need to attack him, he's probably doing something right, and in any case, he gets this one really, really right: “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” (H/T Jon) This husband's homage to his wife was inspired by conversations like the following:
“So is your wife staying at home permanently?”
“Permanently? Well, for the foreseeable future she will be raising the kids full time, yes.”
“Yeah, mine is 14 now. But I’ve had a career the whole time as well. I can’t imagine being a stay at home mom. I would get so antsy. [Giggles] What does she DO all day?”
“Oh, just absolutely everything. What do you do all day?”
“…Me? Ha! I WORK!”
“My wife never stops working. Meanwhile, it’s the middle of the afternoon and we’re both at a coffee shop. I’m sure my wife would love to have time to sit down and drink a coffee. It’s nice to get a break, isn’t it?”
The conversation ended less amicably than it began.
Walsh's whole commentary is worth reading. Here are some snippets.
Look, I don’t cast aspersions on women who work outside of the home. I understand that many of them are forced into it because they are single mothers, or because one income simply isn’t enough to meet the financial needs of their family. Or they just choose to work because that’s what they want to do. Fine. I also understand that most “professional” women aren’t rude, pompous and smug, like the two I met recently. ... But I don’t want to sing Kumbaya right now. I want to kick our backwards, materialistic society in the shins and say, “GET YOUR FREAKING HEAD ON STRAIGHT, SOCIETY.”
In making his point, the author fails to mention that there are other essential professions (sometimes lacking in respect), and that any legitimate work done with excellence and integrity has value, often great value. Cut him (and me) some slack: it doesn't change the truth of what he says. Our society has elevated employment, almost any employment, over work that does not bring in a paycheck, especially if the non-paying work involves home and family, like rearing children or caring for elderly parents.
It’s true — being a mom isn’t a “job.” A job is something you do for part of the day and then stop doing. You get a paycheck. You have unions and benefits and break rooms. I’ve had many jobs; it’s nothing spectacular or mystical. I don’t quite understand why we’ve elevated “the workforce” to this hallowed status. Where do we get our idea of it? The Communist Manifesto? Having a job is necessary for some — it is for me — but it isn’t liberating or empowering. Whatever your job is — you are expendable. You are a number. You are a calculation. You are a servant. You can be replaced, and you will be replaced eventually. Am I being harsh? No, I’m being someone who has a job. I’m being real. ... If your mother quit her role as mother, entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly. The ripples of that tragedy would be felt for generations. If she quit her job as a computer analyst, she’d be replaced in four days and nobody would care.
Having been both computer analyst and mother, I can attest to what he says. Guess which career garnered the most admiration and accolades?
Of course not all women can be at home full time. It’s one thing to acknowledge that; it’s quite another to paint it as the ideal. To call it the ideal, is to claim that children IDEALLY would spend LESS time around their mothers. This is madness. Pure madness. It isn’t ideal, and it isn’t neutral. The more time a mother can spend raising her kids, the better. The better for them, the better for their souls, the better for the community, the better for humanity. Period.
The following may be my favorite paragraph of the whole article.
Finally, it’s probably true that stay at home moms have some down time. People who work outside the home have down time, too. In fact, there are many, many jobs that consist primarily of down time, with little spurts of menial activity strewn throughout. In any case, I’m not looking to get into a fight about who is “busier.” We seem to value our time so little, that we find our worth based on how little of it we have. In other words, we’ve idolized “being busy,” and confused it with being “important.” You can be busy but unimportant, just as you can be important but not busy. I don’t know who is busiest, and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. I think it’s safe to say that none of us are as busy as we think we are; and however busy we actually are, it’s more than we need to be.
I think I'll change my advice to those who are asked the condescending and offensive question, "What do you DO all day?" And I'd apply it to almost any profession, not just motherhood—no one from the outside can really know what it takes to do another's job. First, I'd quote Elbert Hubbard: Never explain—your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway. Then I'd suggest this as a response:
That's a trade secret, and revealing it is against the rules of our Guild.