Rachel Campos-Duffy Wants Moms Who Stay Home to Stay Happy, Too
ParentDish columnist and author Rachel Campos-Duffy says she is blessed to be a stay-at-home mom to her five kids, and she wants other women who choose hearth and home over business suit and briefcase to feel the same way.
The phone call that ended Rachel Campos-Duffy's career as a full-time talk-show host also led to an epiphany about motherhood.
When producers from ABC's "The View" called to tell the former MTV "Real World" star they had chosen Elisabeth Hasselbeck as the new permanent member of the daytime talk-fest, Campos-Duffy was devastated.
She recalls the moment in her new book, "Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood."
"That day was also my son's second birthday," she writes. "I lay on the sofa, simultaneously feeling very sorry for myself and feeling very guilty about feeling sorry for myself. It was, after all, Jack's birthday. Consumed with self-pity, I was in no mood to bake a cake."While she did mourn the loss, that pivotal moment also gave her a fresh perspective on motherhood, Campos-Duffy told ParentDish via e-mail.
"I was disappointed, but also surprised by the fact that I simultaneously felt relieved," she wrote. "I was a few months pregnant, and maybe that in some way also helped me to see the importance of what I was already doing. It was a profound moment of appreciation for the life I already had and the work I was already doing as an at-home mom."
Campos-Duffy and her husband, Sean Duffy, have five kids ranging in age from 1 to 10 years old, with a sixth one on the way. She stays home with their children while Sean works as a district attorney in rural Wisconsin and makes a bid for Congress, but her time is not limited to child-rearing -- she also has a thriving professional life.
Campos-Duffy began her career in television as a cast member on the San Francisco season of MTV's ground-breaking reality series, "The Real World." Her conservative viewpoint and Hispanic heritage continue to make her a favorite of media outlets like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.
But she isn't only a television pundit; she's also a writer. Campos-Duffy is a columnist for ParentDish, and her contribution to our Red Mom - Blue Mom feature garnered national attention during the 2008 political season.
For all her enthusiasm about being a stay-at-home mother, Campos-Duffy is not immune to the repetitive drudgery that can make a mom feel trapped and bogged down. That's why she decided to share her strategies for embracing all that comes with mothering in her new book.
One key to happiness, she said, is realizing that you don't have to give up your entire professional or personal identity to stay home and raise your kids.
"I can totally relate to the fact that most modern moms have had a taste of professional achievement prior to becoming moms and the unique satisfaction that comes from excelling in one's field of expertise or particular talent is a legitimate desire," she said. "What's great about at-home motherhood today is that technology permits us to still be informed and to some degree involved in our professional or artistic interests."
Campos-Duffy points out that the Internet allows moms to feel connected, and also helps them to be "as informed as your average journalist about current events or any niche topic you can think of."
She added that the classic feminist idea that women can have it all makes it hard for moms to admit that they get pleasure from giving up their careers to be a full-time mother.
"Too often when we talk about the trade-offs of motherhood, we talk about the sacrifices and fail to balance that conversation off with a discussion about the satisfaction and pleasure we get from mothering," Campos-Duffy points out. "Most SAHMs today choose to be SAHMs, and the reasons are not limited to thinking it's good for their kids. In my case, being home works for our family, but my reason for doing it day in and day out is as much about the fact that I love what I do and I get satisfaction from doing it well."
That's not to say that she doesn't understand what it feels like to let go of an exciting, interesting career that you love. Campos-Duffy is honest about the fact that she never intended to be a full-time mom.
"I wasn't one of those girls who dreamed of her wedding day or of having a family," she said. "I became a SAHM by default. It wasn't a conscious decision I made."
However, she embraces her role wholeheartedly, and is smart enough to know what helps her be happy at home. For instance, she has a housekeeper who comes several times a week to help her manage her busy household of seven and growing. She also makes time for her professional pursuits, even if she does it after the kids go to bed.
She wrote her book, she says, often in the wee hours of the evening.
"It entailed a lot of late nights and the most supportive, awesome husband any woman could ever dream of having," she said. "Writing this book really made me realize that I really did hit the jackpot with Sean."
Husbands, she added, are a key component to any mom's happiness, and unlike the previous generation of women, Gen X dads are more likely to "walk the walk" when it comes to contributing to the household.
"Your husband will set the tone for how the family respects and honors what you do," Campos-Duffy said. "Most men today want to be supportive good husbands, and they grew up with a sense of justice and equality when it comes to the sexes."
Campos-Duffy is well-qualified to offer the wisdom she's earned during her decade-long tenure as a mother, but she wants her readers to know that "Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood" is not just another weapon in the Mommy Wars.
"This whole mommy-war thing is so passé," she said. "Our lives and families are so unique and dynamic – it's impossible to apply cookie-cutter rules to our lives and choices as moms and parents. In fact, this book isn't just for full-time SAHMs, it is a tool and guide for any mom who is home on maternity leave, temporarily laid off or just trying to make the most of the time she does spend home with her kids."
Related: Read more from Rachel Campos-Duffy in her ParentDish columns, View From the Homefront.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.