Barbara Walters' Question on 'The View' Gave Me a Pregnant Pause
It was a provocative question, especially since baby #6 was sitting on my lap at the time. I simply responded, "Being a mom is the best job in the world!"
Politico called the answer "diplomatic," and National Review's Kathryn Lopez tweeted that it was "graceful," but I couldn't help being disappointed with my response. Not that it wasn't true -– being a mom is the best job in the world - but I felt that a question as culturally loaded as this one deserved a better answer, especially from someone who has written countless columns and an entire book on the subject of at-home motherhood and the sad fact that our culture does little to applaud or elevate this noble calling.
So, if I had it to do over again, what would I say to Barbara? I'd say, "Barbara, I consider it a privilege and a blessing to have six kids and watch them grow up. As fun as it is to be here with you all (and it is!) I wouldn't trade the precious and fleeting time I have home with my kids for anything."
The truth is, I honestly hold nothing against Barbara for asking the question. Come on, it's "The View!" We expect conversation-starters and brutally blunt discussion. More importantly, I understood full well what Barbara was trying to say. She's a smart woman and a mom herself, so she knows that raising children, especially six, involves not only professional sacrifices, but also many daily personal sacrifices. From Barbara's perch, I can see why my decision to choose at-home motherhood in rural Wisconsin over a "budding career" as she called it, seems perplexing.
What I failed to articulate in that moment on behalf of all the other at-home moms watching is that amid the daily diapers, dishes and tedium, there is also a certain kind of happiness that one can only derive from service to others – especially our children. In our me-first culture, that is a very counterintuitive notion, but one that recent scientific studies into the field of "happiness" are confirming. People who serve others are happier, regardless of their income or personal circumstances.
But setting aside service for a moment, perhaps the most under-examined aspect of mothering is pleasure -– yes, pleasure! Despite the hard work, an increasing number are choosing to do it full-time because they derive real pleasure and a deep sense of satisfaction from doing it well.
Being an at-home parent does not make me a better parent. What it does afford me are more opportunities to become the best parent I can be. That's as satisfying a feeling as any daytime Emmy -- and it won't wear off when the headlines fade.
Time spent with my kids permits me to better understand their personalities and needs. Like any other profession or sport, I improve my skills and techniques the more time I spend doing it. Becoming a better player in the parenting game means more moments to enjoy the game -– or in this case, delight in my children. Would I trade that for anything? Not a chance. Not even for a career as illustrious and historic as Barbara Walters'.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.