The decades-old mommy wars heated up in April when Democratic commentator Hilary Rosen made the assertion that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life.
Rosen later apologized, but the long-time debate about what is better for children — moms working outside the home or staying home — continues.
With Mother’s Day approaching, Sandra Cavalier, the director of the Office of Adult Services at Frederick Community College, said she is hopeful the debate eventually will end and all mothers will be valued whether they work in or outside the home.
“Some women have no choice other than to work,” Cavalier said. “Each of us has to make our own decisions as to what is best for us. Hopefully society will sanction that.”
For Stephanie Dellamura of Walkersville, the choice was easy.
“I knew I always wanted to stay home,” she said. “My mom stayed home because that was thing you did. Once I had kids, I knew I would stay home.”
Dellamura, 45, left her job as a sales representative in the biotech field 10 years ago when her first son, Gregory, was born. Today, Dellamura is raising her three boys, Gregory, Adam, 8, and Jacob, 3, while her husband works full-time.
Dellamura knows she is fortunate to be financially able to stay home. And she doesn’t judge those mothers who can’t.
“I’m fortunate I could make that choice,” she said. “But I respect moms who have to work. I don’t know how they do it. I have never looked down or disrespected someone who has to work. Staying at home is not for everybody.”
Dellamura said it is important for her to be home with her young children.
“I know kids grow fast and I want to see them for more than a few hours a day,” she said. “And, when they are teenagers I’ll still need to be here for them. I want to be here for them when they get home from school and in the summer.”
A recent study conducted by Kim Parker with the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank that conducts research on current issues, found 62 percent of working mothers say they would rather work part-time and 37 percent would prefer to work full-time. Parker’s research also found 21 percent of adults say the trend toward more mothers of young children working outside the home has benefited society.
“The reality is that most working mothers would rather work part-time,” Parker said. “There is still that tension on the part of mothers themselves.”
However, Parker said there is consensus among people that more women in the work force has been a change for the better.
“There is a consensus that women in the work force is a good thing,” she said. “It’s a concensus that has been building.”
For Angie Fish, serving as president of the Frederick County Board of Education and as a full-time10th grade teacher at Northwest High School in Germantown, works for her family. Fish and her husband are the parents of four girls.
“I absolutely love what I do,” said Fish, 40. “I love what I do. I absolutely love teaching. It’s such a joy in my life. And it’s financially important that I work.”
Fish of Frederick credits her family for helping her balance home and work.
“It’s a real team effort,” she said. “I certainly could not do it without my husband and my mom and dad. I am truely blessed. I have a very supportive family. My husband takes the kids to school in the morning and I can meet them at the school bus in the afternoon.”
Fish said she will not seek re-election when her term on the school board expires in December. Fish has said she plans to spend more time with her family after leaving public office.
Fish said having the summers off with her children also helps.
Judging the merits of stay-at-home moms is something Fish said she never would do.
“It’s what works for the individual mom,” she said. “It’s not for me to pass judgement on anybody. What works for the individual mom is what is best.”
But according to Dellamura, society assumes moms like herself accomplish little.
“I think people who work are under the impression that we watch TV and eat Bon Bons,” she said. “I don’t sit down. It’s a challenge. You’re at your job 24/7. You don’t get a break. It’s a nonstop paying job. You’re dealing with innately selfish little people that you can’t reason with.”
Despite its challenges, Dellamura said she wouldn’t change a thing.
“The boys and I are able to enjoy many fun things during the day,” she said. “We spend a lot of time at the area parks, lakes and the libraries. We go to the national and Catoctin zoos, go bike riding, swimming at the YMCA, go out to lunch, have picnics, rent movies or play games.”
And, when she catches herself complaining, Dellamura quickly remembers what she does have.
“On beautiful days when I’m out of the house with the boys or just Jacob at the park, I regret ever complaining about how hard my job is,” she said. “I would never trade a thing.”