There’s so much to do in this beautiful province of ours, and, as I’ve discovered since giving up my freelance ways for a steady paycheck, never ever enough time. I’ll be taking two weeks off in July this year. For one of those weeks we have a cabin rented and sandy beaches and barbecues are about the only items on my agenda. For my second summer week I’ll be hanging out at my home around the bay, living the life in outport Newfoundland.
While there, I’ll go to the post office and have a yarn to kick start my mornings. I’ll probably run a few errands for my parents; to the shop with dad’s morning coffee and snack, back to mom with the empty mug and an oh so stimulating conversation that will go something like;
Mom; “Did he like his (insert healthy snack choice here)?”
Me; “He didn’t eat it while I was there.”
Mom; “That frigger. Chomping away on candy, bars, and chips, I suppose.”
I totally lie and creatively offer some lame candy-coverup. Mom, knowing I’m lying, will decide to change the day’s menu. Suddenly meat cakes and deep-fried squid tails are off, and salad and left-overs are on. Or at least that’s the threat.
Then it’s back to the shop to inform my father that the jig is up and he has to come clean or we’ll be eating like we’ve suddenly moved to a fat farm.
Then it’s gabbing on the road for an hour or so followed by some quality deck time, which often includes some people watching and a healthy dose of gossip.
Maybe a walk on the beach, a visit to the wharf, a swing in the playground, and then back to the deck for more me time and gossip catch up. Ah. Rough stuff that outport life.
Do I miss living in an outport? You bet ya. And the longer I’m away the more I realize how far away from retirement I actually am. But do I miss being a stay at home mom? Not really, though announcing that publicly may be to my peril as some studies can make working mothers feel like we’ve failed the family and set our children adrift.
A recent Pew Research Center study showed that women are now the primary breadwinners in 40 per cent of households with children. It also suggested that children of working mothers don’t fare as well as children with stay-at-home moms. The report ignited a sharp debate on Fox News between some of the network’s most prominent as host Megyn Kelly, contributor Erick Erickson and anchor Lou Dobbs went at it on air.
Erickson said that in nature, the male is typically dominant and that children in a two-parent traditional household will more often than not be more successful than children of single or gay parents. Wow. Who knew?
“We should not kid ourselves or scream so loudly in politically correct outrage to drown the truth,” Erickson claimed. “Kids most likely will do best in households where they have a mom at home nurturing them while dad is out bringing home the bacon.” You could have knocked me down with a feature. Really?
Erickson then told Kelly that it’s not healthy for society when the roles of men and women in the family are interchangeable.
Kelly, a mother of two, held her own, saying that plenty of data suggests that children in homes with homosexual parents or working mothers are as healthy and able to thrive in society as children with stay-at-home moms. She also dismissed Erickson’s contention that he wasn’t judging others.
“I think you are judging people. You sound like somebody who is judging but wants to come out and say ‘I’m not, I’m not, I’m not, but let me judge, judge, judge. And, by the way, it’s science and facts, facts, facts.’ But (there are) a list of studies saying your science is wrong and your facts are wrong.”
Dobbs was later interrupted by Kelly when he claimed damage was being done to society by the breakup of marriages and the rise of single-person households.
“Why are you attributing that to women in the workforce?” Kelly asked somewhat forcefully.
Dobbs replied, “Let me just finish what I’m saying, if I may, oh dominant one.”
While Dobbs seems like a bit of an arse, and that’s bad enough, he is also wrong. What good is a stay-at-home mother if she is unhappy?
Researchers at the America Sociological Association found that mothers who go to back to work within weeks of giving birth had “more energy, mobility, and less depression by age 40” than those who spend months or years at home.
A recent Gallup study found stay-at-home mothers were more likely to experience stress, worry, anger and sadness than were those who held paying jobs. Among the findings: 28 percent of the at-home moms described themselves as depressed, compared with 17 percent of employed moms.
The British Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reported that housewives were more likely to be obese (38 percent) than were those who juggled children, a steady relationship and a paycheck (23 percent).
And the Journal of Family Psychology in the U.S. concluded that a 10-year-long study following new mothers found that those who held a paying job, whether full-time or part-time, were in better health in general, and less depressed in particular, than those who did not.
Look, I’ve been both a stay at home mom and a work-outside-the-home mom. Which is better? The one that makes you, and your children, the happiest.
And while I may miss the “everyday is five o’clock Friday” life that outports provide, there is something to be said for getting out in the workforce, earning a decent pay cheque, and having your children thrive in a quality day care they adore.
Now, if only employers could do something about extending vacation time. I’d be happier than my father is when he gets away with sneaking grub he shouldn’t.