Why Melania Trump would make an amazing New American First Lady

She not only admitted to having household help as a SAHM, but she was completely matter of fact about it, as if it was just obvious she’d need support to run her household.  This is not at all American, but it could be if she were First Lady and women could have the model of a housewife who was unashamed of having domestic help and considered it part of her essential toolkit in managing the household.

Contrast her openness about household help with Michelle Obama, who has called herself “Mom in Chief” in her new role as SAHM, but utterly downplayed moving her mother into the White House to provide childcare gratis (so, for the last eight years).  One can find this information in the Wikipedia article on Mrs. Obama, but from the horse’s lips, not so much.  No, from the horse’s lips there is dissembling about having one of Obama’s female relatives provide live in help when the two Obama children were infant and toddler aged.   That female relation was the “babysitter we lost”  Michelle Obama has alluded to in the past. They lost her due to her wanting to receive, well, money for babysitting.  Michelle Obama is very clear on that point at least, that they didn’t want to pay for childcare while both of them worked.  All of this is much more sadly and typically American, downplaying free help from relatives, not wanting to pay normal wages for “watching babies”, and  simultaneously flapping hands in the air about “the high cost of childcare for hard working women”.

Modelling matters, and I know what kind of SAHM model I’d prefer to see normalized.  I’d love to witness the seeds of a new American ideal of housewife, one who really is a domestic administrator whose role warrants both status and the right to delegate tasks to support people (which would mean working for such housewives would be seen as legitimate work).  That would be lovely and we could have that in Melania Trump as First Lady.  A housewife can dream.

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51 thoughts on “Why Melania Trump would make an amazing New American First Lady

  1. The problem as I see it TPC, isn’t so much that household help is viewed as unnecessary. I think it’s pretty much expected that SAHM in certain classes with extraordinary levels social and career supporting demands on them will have household help. No one with a modicum of observation skills bought what Michelle Obama was selling with the whole Mom-in-Chief stuff.

    The issue is that for a good percentage of SAHM (myself among them), hiring household help is cost prohibitive. The women who desire and can afford the help already use it, and do so without the lest bit of shame or apprehension. This is true even among conservative religious women.

    Given the realities of the American economy and the world we live in, I don’t know that we’re ever going to have a situation where a plurality of SAHM are in a position to hire help. But there is a place of sanity to be found between having the means to hire help and slogging through trying to do “it all” on your own and with perfect RoboMom precision.

    Better that we do the more doable thing and dispense with the farcical notion of the isolated, super spiritual workhorse of a woman who doesn’t need anyone but Jesus and her husband to fulfill every line and precept of the Proverbs 31 model with ease and joy.

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      • I wasn’t trying to detract from your point. Rather, making the relevant 2016 point that cost issues have to be taken into consideration. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

        Where I grew up it was pretty common for pastors’ wives (black wives, I mean) and a few of the wives of holiness churches to be SAHM. Not many hired help although they certainly utilized and bartered goods and services from one another which lightened workloads. This was pre-1980.

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    • Elspeth said:

      “The issue is that for a good percentage of SAHM (myself among them), hiring household help is cost prohibitive. The women who desire and can afford the help already use it, and do so without the lest bit of shame or apprehension. This is true even among conservative religious women.”

      I admit to my help very frankly (especially to younger mothers to prevent any of them crying in their Cheerios about how perfect I am), but I don’t think that is the rule.

      There are obstacles in the way of even well-off households hiring appropriate help.

      1. Husbands. A guy can make $100k a year and still think his wife ought to be doing all of the toilet and floor scrubbing that happens at his house. (See, for example, the Dalrock guys.) It can be very, very difficult to persuade a husband to unclench even to the tune of $100 a month. There really are guys (I know one) who really believe in the perfect wife fantasy that TPC describes: cooking, cleaning, large family, homeschooling, hobby-farming, skinny, sexually voracious, etc. (Back in the real world, most of us are doing swell if we manage any two of those.)

      I got a monthly cleaner as soon as our oldest was born, it took some selling to my husband. Now that he’s used to it, he understands that it helps everything run more smoothly at home and that we have bigger fish to fry. I’ve also sprung him from yard hell, so fair is fair.

      2. Pride and “tradition.” My sister and I both have cleaning help. Our mom, on the other hand, did not for many years, even though my parents could easily have afforded it and they were both working. Mom is a bit of a hoarder, so things got worse and worse with every passing year. Once things get bad enough, things can easily spiral out of control. The person doesn’t have company over because it’s so bad, and because they don’t have company, they don’t bother cleaning, and because they don’t clean, they don’t have company over, etc. Plus, (and here we return to #1), my dad cherished the illusion that they could take care of it themselves. We had an intervention, they rolled back the filth with help from a friend, and they finally got hired cleaning help–but it should have happened 10-15 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      • To continue, in my internet life, I often come across well-off, conscientious mothers of multiple children who are having trouble keeping things together–like a mother of five little kids attempting to homeschool and finding life really chaotic and stressful.

        It’s just a totally foreign idea to somebody like that that she could spend a couple hundred dollars a month and not have to worry about heavy cleaning anymore. (A lot of us were brought up a lot poorer than we are today, so we don’t think like that.)

        But then there’s always going to be a “helpful” person jumping in and announcing that she has 8 homeschooled kids, her husband is almost never around, they live on around $40k a year, and she does just FINE and why do you need any help? (That’s a real character on CAF–I cannot verify whether her self-description is correct, but she really does pop up and say that pretty regularly.)

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  2. The issue is that for a good percentage of SAHM (myself among them), hiring household help is cost prohibitive.

    A good point, as not everyone wants to continue to “work” for free. It concerns me to see the struggles SAHMs face, but what’s going to happen when the elderly start needing more care? The social system isn’t equipped to help them all. Do SAHM’s get saddled with caring for their own children, and possibly aging parents or in-laws?

    Perhaps the best course of action fit in the current situation is to not burden SAHMs with unrealistic expectations. Just because “they’re home aaaall day” doesn’t mean they should be saddled with more responsibilities. It’s why it bugs me when churches expect this overwhelming willingness from SAHMs to help out, and then turn their noses up toward all the singles. It’s like, hello?

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  3. “Do SAHM’s get saddled with caring for their own children, and possibly aging parents or in-laws?”
    Yes. Thus the phrase, “Sandwich Generation”. I have friends who bear this burden. I will eventually – hello, only child. Probably after my kids are grown, because the younger is 11 and my parents are healthy.

    All of this work isn’t “real work” and therefore doesn’t count. Feminism was supposed to elevate women qua women … but we stuck with the same, “only the things that men do are awesome” framework. Bah.

    It’s so common here in SoCal to have a gardener… excuse me, “lawn service”… that the less than perfect yard is a social class signal. It’s also pretty cheap, since most of those offering their services aren’t here legally (or why we don’t avail ourselves – DH isn’t good with that).

    And then women who can afford it hire a maid service. Not a maid, no no no. Not a personal servant – perish the thought! That’s for those women in La Jolla or Beverly Hills. But someone to come do the cleaning? Yes. My next door neighbor makes good money at that job.

    We hire “services”, we don’t hire servants.

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  4. Everyone expects wealthy people to have household help. Melenia is matter of fact about it because she can’t downplay their wealth like many running for public office attempt to do.

    Household help is out of reach for most families with a SAHM but having a grandmother or other relative live with you and help with child care is pretty common and could be a practical solution for a lot of people.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know about that, there are a lot of higher income people (100-300k/year household) who fetishize doing everything and I do mean EVERYTHING themselves, even if one stays home. It’s only the case in America though, as far as I can tell.

      And a SAHM coming over to another SAHM’s house for a couple hours in the morning/afternoon to help out shouldn’t be out of anyone’s reach and I feel like with less hiding of household help as important that kind of thing would go back to happening. Or one SAHM cooking for another who tutors the first one’s kids. All of this dropped off a cliff in the 1990s and given flattened incomes, it’s weird that it’s not coming back more aggressively nowadays.

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  5. In the entrepreneurial world world, there’s the saying, “work ON your business, not IN your business.

    “…all the time you are spending doing jobs that other people could be doing is time that you are not running your business. When you get bogged down in simple details that your employees could be working on, you are not being an effective leader.

    “As the leader of your business, you are responsible for spotting problems and delegating solutions. You are responsible for setting goals and thinking about the future. The only person in your company who will be genuinely motivated to grow your company is you. Every minute that you spend working on tasks that can be delegated is a minute that you are not planning, strategizing and building the best business possible.

    “This is why it’s important to work on your business, not in your business. You are in charge of the big picture. When you see areas that need improvement, delegate the work out, so you can continue to be the troubleshooter and visionary that you need to be.”

    http://www.inc.com/rhett-power/work-on-your-business-not-in-your-business.html

    I feel like that particular insight is lost on a lot of people who see the housewife’s duties primarily in terms of exactly those delegate-able low-level tasks–the sparkling floors, the hot meals, etc. Obviously, somebody has to take care of that basic stuff, but at the same time, somebody has to be taking care of the big picture. Are the kids eating OK? Are they getting enough exercise? Are they doing fine in school? Do they have a wholesome peer group? Are they staying in touch with friends that have changed schools or moved? How are their sibling relationship? Are they in touch with extended family? Do they have an age-appropriate knowledge of running a household? Do they have age-appropriate money skills? Are they getting enough driving practice? Are they pursuing passions that will keep them out of drugs and perhaps pave the way to a future career? Etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. But then there’s always going to be a “helpful” person jumping in and announcing that she has 8 homeschooled kids, her husband is almost never around, they live on around $40k a year, and she does just FINE and why do you need any help? (That’s a real character on CAF–I cannot verify whether her self-description is correct, but she really does pop up and say that pretty regularly.)”

    I was going to comment on just that point. And like you said with Dalrock and crew, the reason these men want the stepford wife and believe she exists, is one always pops up claiming she can do all. This snowflake is then put on a pedestal as example to other women of “hey she can do it why can’t you”. Of course its all stories from some anon woman online that may or may not be true, but it doesn’t matter if they are untrue, she is still held up as the gold standard. Maybe she can do it all because she does have help, but conveniently leaves that part out to the men.

    In addition to this list: “cooking, cleaning, large family, homeschooling, hobby-farming, skinny, sexually voracious, etc. ” add blogging. It was once suggested to me that if I can’t blog once a day like the other alleged “do it all perfect godly” women, well then I just must have poor time management skills. After all, she can do it why cant you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LGROBINS said:

      “And like you said with Dalrock and crew, the reason these men want the stepford wife and believe she exists, is one always pops up claiming she can do all. This snowflake is then put on a pedestal as example to other women of “hey she can do it why can’t you”.”

      Yeah.

      My sweet grandma is the closest person I know in real life to their ideal–boundless energy, cooked, cleaned, farm-wifed, mowed the lawn, and gardened like crazy (plus some part-time work because grandpa insisted) and was probably never over 120 pounds except when pregnant. BUT–and–this is very important–she had 3.0 kids, they went to public school, the grocery store was five minutes away, and grandpa (who also had boundless energy) was home from the mill every day around 3. Also, grandma was a firecracker when her kids were growing up–that was well before my time, but apparently, some of her fights with grandpa were epic.

      I don’t know any woman well who meets the Christian manosphere ideal, and I know a lot of really great women.

      “It was once suggested to me that if I can’t blog once a day like the other alleged “do it all perfect godly” women, well then I just must have poor time management skills. After all, she can do it why cant you!”

      Oh my goodness.

      I think most people can either “do it all perfect” or write about doing it all perfect–you’re not going to find a lot of ladies doing both.

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    • But then there’s always going to be a “helpful” person jumping in and announcing that she has 8 homeschooled kids, her husband is almost never around, they live on around $40k a year, and she does just FINE and why do you need any help?

      I find it would be prudent to take the “it worked for me” advice in a discriminating manner. It’s great the strategy worked for this particular individual, but what about everyone else? Do they just suck? My thoughts are, the people making those statements simply don’t care about a family’s particular situation.

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      • Maea said:

        “My thoughts are, the people making those statements simply don’t care about a family’s particular situation.”

        I think that’s right.

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      • TPC said:

        “The same person AmyP is referencing doesn’t actually live on 40k/year. Nearly everyone who can toddle to a mailbox in that household is out earning money, including “stay at home mom”.”

        I’m not totally sure we’re talking about the same person, but if we are

        –she says she has the big kids paying for their extracurriculars (music lessons, etc.)
        –she says she herself is doing some sort of handicrafts
        –I think there may be some hocus pocus with the $40k, as military families get housing allowances, so that might not be being counted
        –military medical benefits would make a HUGE financial difference with a family that size in controlling expenses in a way that could not be duplicated for civilian families

        Now that I think of it, I’m starting to wonder if she even knows how much they make.

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        • She also does in-home daycare and has worked outside the home during various points in her marriage. Which, you know, people do what they gotta do. But that’s just not a family where mom’s been staying home not bringing in income while dad only brings in a static 40k for 10 or 20 years or whatever. I’ve made more general posts about this kind of thing, it’s really common to present one’s household as a single-income one when the family is hustling hard behind the scenes to bring in under the table income to supplement.

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      • TPC said:

        “I’ve made more general posts about this kind of thing, it’s really common to present one’s household as a single-income one when the family is hustling hard behind the scenes to bring in under the table income to supplement.”

        True. “SAHM” is often more of a state of mind than a factual description.

        I don’t know if you missed this, but in one of her more colorful recent posts, she mentioned that she used to take six little children to one of her jobs. That was part of some cheerleading about how any mom who wants to supplement the family’s income can do so without paying for childcare, rah rah rah.

        Ooookay.

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      • it’s really common to present one’s household as a single-income one when the family is hustling hard behind the scenes to bring in under the table income to supplement.

        That’s not really living in a household with a single-income earner. If you’re hustling, you’ve got more than one income earner, or an income earner working more than one job.

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      • If she’s in a military household and is only counting salary as income she is being blatantly dishonest. Salaries are low but you also get rent money, tax-free shopping (I used to take other people I know shopping for groceries and clothes on base, they were astounded by how cheap it all was), subsidized daycare, allowances for each extra child, a tight-knit high-trust community that employs each other’s kids… I could go on. If a woman in that situation is bragging that it’s due to her own awesomeness then… Yeah, I don’t think the words I want to use are appropriate on this blog.

        Liked by 1 person

    • @Seph

      I think no matter what, this person is being dishonest. Additional income is additional income. To top it off, purporting one’s life as a “I do it all on 1 income” is a flagrant case of false representation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maea said:

        “I think no matter what, this person is being dishonest. Additional income is additional income. To top it off, purporting one’s life as a “I do it all on 1 income” is a flagrant case of false representation.”

        I’ve never had the nerve to ask the amazing-awesome-mom-of-8-on-$40k to break it down, but her stories tend to be an ever-changing kaleidoscope. So, I’ve always had my doubts (and it sounds like TPC has some, too), but she’s really hard to pin down. Also, although she mentions that her husband had to go back to the Army to keep them afloat, she never comes to grip with what that means for families in the same income range that don’t have that as a realistic option or how much just the Army insurance is worth.

        It’s only when you have been tracking her stories for a while that you start noticing how much variation there is in her versions of reality. I don’t know that she’s lying, necessarily. I charitably assume that her family’s life is so chaotic that she doesn’t really know what’s going on.

        What does really toast my biscuits is how totally taken in by her a lot of other posters on that forum are.

        (By the way, can I coin the term “magical housewife”? I would use it for women who are awesome…on the internet.)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I broke down in front of an OG homeschool mother about the expectations that were on me once and she pretty much rolled her eyes and told me to tell my husband to join us all in consensus reality. This was a clergy wife with tons of kids who homeschooled them all on pennies in the 80s and 90s, but when presented with the 21st century Stepford homeschool mommy picture she immediately saw it for a lie. The problem is that that generation has absolutely no idea what *consensus* reality now is. They don’t know how much time people spend online, they don’t know how carefully people are curating their self-presentation on the internet, they don’t understand that lots of young people are getting their only ideas about any way of life other than the mainstream from blogs. The older women who do have an online presence don’t do even a fraction of the debunking of crazy expectations that they ought to. Maybe they will cop to tight framing of photos, maybe they’ll occasionally point out that they don’t have babies anymore, but I have never seen a single one of the last generation talk seriously about this problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You Know Who said:

      “The problem is that that generation has absolutely no idea what *consensus* reality now is. They don’t know how much time people spend online, they don’t know how carefully people are curating their self-presentation on the internet, they don’t understand that lots of young people are getting their only ideas about any way of life other than the mainstream from blogs.”

      Yeah.

      Here’s a little youtube for you:

      I think a big part of the cure is seeing more of other people at home (and not just on major occasions). When you see people’s homes and you have the general idea of what their normal life looks like, the internet stuff won’t take you in.

      It’s sort of an internet hellhole, but I’ve learned a lot about the dark side of mommy blogs and lifestyle blogs from GOMI–photoshopping, the special slimming poses, spanx, endorsements, etc.

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      • The youtube clip is why I unplugged from the Matrix facebook and haven’t looked back.

        I used to work in traditional-mother households doing work similar to an aide for children. These kids had psychological and physical disabilities, and their mothers needed to extra help. I wondered “why would they need help when they’re home all day?” Well, it wasn’t until I worked in their homes, for well over a year at times, I could see why. The fathers worked full time, or sometimes OT.

        No one dropped by the visit the moms. No one offered to take the kids for a visit to give the mom some respite. No one offered to help the moms out for anything. In fact, sometimes their families interpreted my presence there as “oh, so now you can manage MORE!” without considering the fact I was there for a specific purpose.

        Once people accept the idea mothers are people, we’ll have taken a huge leap toward proper progress.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, that video is great. Really captures it all. “The dark side of mommy blog” sure says it well.
        I like some of the articles at Scarry Mommy, just because they are real and tell stuff like it is and are often very funny. They dare to say parenting doesn’t have to be perfect. I believe Dalrock et al poked fun at the site at some point, you know its a feminist site, run for the hills!!! So many men think if you aren’t the perfect wife and mother or at least present like the ones online, then you must be a bad or lazy mom.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll admit to the occasional bout of FB Envy – but then I remember that I actually know these people well enough to realize it’s just the merest sliver of their lives. But still…. you know how it is – envy breeds dissatisfaction breeds criticism breeds….. blah blah blah

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  8. I see that TPC has found the new I-am/my-wife-is-a-tireless-fembot-with-no-needs-whatsoever thread on CAF. Welcome back!

    The tldr is–“If you don’t kill yourself doing exactly what I’m doing, you’re selfish.”

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  9. Maea,
    Well, when they are holding out for a unicorn that is what will happen. Just like they gang up on women for waiting around for her alpha to show up, they don’t see that they do the same thing with women.
    They want “ready made” woman. Convenience food or a frozen meal that is nicely partitioned. They don’t want to put in the work of making a woman from scratch, of helping her grow. So, when they see some woman online wrapped in a shiny marketable container, its so easy to grab for it and get addicted. After all the package is glossy, it might make great claims of “100% whole grain” ,”all natural”, “gluten free”, “no added sugar” and think wow this is GREAT, a healthy wonderful meal (woman) and I don’t have to put any work into cooking or dating.

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    • Oh yes, I remember reading about this. It’s the same as the “woman who gets it”? What exactly are women supposed to get, I’m not sure. It took me a few years to “get” a lot of things after marriage, but my husband could say the same about himself too.

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  10. Maeve,

    I think this is the one you want.

    http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=1000777

    There’s an appearance by TPC plus enough passive aggression from parents of large families to fuel an aircraft carrier.

    The thread got closed down–it was that good.

    I don’t know why this is so, but at least judging by CAF, parents of 1-5 are right there in the trenches and have problems and make mistakes, but apparently, once you have 7+ children, you just waft along, two inches above the ground all the time, carried along by how GOOD you are.

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    • Women are SAVED through childbirth????????
      Too bad I gave up booze for Lent – this doozy of a thread is calling for at least a couple good swigs and I’ve only just started!

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      • “Women are SAVED through childbirth????????”

        That is in the Bible. See 1 Timothy 2:

        “11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet woman will be saved through bearing children,[a] if she continues[b] in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”

        I note that there’s a lot of fine print in that final verse: “if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”

        So, even in that particular verse, just having babies is not quite enough.

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      • The entire thread is a demonstration on how to lack empathy, and argue like middle schoolers. I notice there’s a male poster there who’s extolling his lifestyle as no big deal, all while ignoring that not everyone can do the same. Interesting.

        As far as being saved through childbirth, I suppose that means I’m screwed seeing I don’t release eggs properly 😛 I’m kind of making light here, and kind of not because I’ve met other women who can’t have children at all. What would those people say about us? God is punishing us?

        There’s a reason why I don’t use CAF anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Maea said:

    “The entire thread is a demonstration on how to lack empathy…”

    Thanks to CAF, I have come to the conclusion that lack of empathy is the main tool in the toolbox of at least some parents of large families.

    I challenge anybody who disagrees to read that whole thread.

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      • Hi Amy – It was just like you said – the whole thread was so devoid of compassion or empathy or anything else. And the assumptions so many of them made, with quite an air of righteous outrage, “well, they only have one child, so MUST be using contraception…selfish…blah blah blah” .

        No charity. No compassion. No kindliness. Sad and disappointing.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. “why would they need help when they’re home all day?”

    I’m tempted to argue that the secret with many Americans is that the idea of having a SAHM with paid help makes little sense, as the whole idea of being a SAHM is that you’re staying at home to do those tasks in the first place and minimize outsourcing. I think for many, the theory is that if you’re paying somebody to help, then you’re doing nothing, and if you’re doing nothing, why are you sitting at home instead of earning income like a “real” American?

    Plus to a lesser extent, because having children is seen as a choice, there’s little sympathy since there’s a sense that everyone is aware of the difficulty of raising a family, and we have modern solutions to avoid that problem.

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  13. David Alexander said:

    “I’m tempted to argue that the secret with many Americans is that the idea of having a SAHM with paid help makes little sense, as the whole idea of being a SAHM is that you’re staying at home to do those tasks in the first place and minimize outsourcing.”

    On the low end of SAHMs, it might really be just a matter of cutting down expenses. Higher up the income scale, the goal can be more to improve general quality of life and maximize home productivity. So, baby isn’t sick with daycare crud and getting mommy and daddy sick. Mom isn’t coaching soccer camp, but she is choosing soccer camp and providing transportation to soccer camp. And more controversially, mom may not be scrubbing toilets, but she’s got the local special ed system figured out and special needs kid is on a good track and has friends. That last item is extremely valuable. To put a crudely economic figure on it, it’s worth mid-six figures.

    When there are choices, the question is, what do we in-source and what do we out-source? We can’t in-source absolutely everything imaginable. We have to choose what to in-source, what to out-source, and what not to even try.

    “Plus to a lesser extent, because having children is seen as a choice, there’s little sympathy since there’s a sense that everyone is aware of the difficulty of raising a family, and we have modern solutions to avoid that problem.”

    Having two children is nearly the law–at least if you’re married.

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