The Perks of Stay at Home Mothering, an Open Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President, So, you gave a speech last weekend, huh? And . . . three, two, one, BOOM went the mommy wars. I'm pretty sure you didn't intend to say that being a stay at home mom isn't "a choice we want Americans to make." I mean, that IS what you said, but it can't be what you MEANT to say. Right? I'm pretty sure you MEANT to say that parents shouldn't be forced to choose between being able to care for their children and being able to provide for them. Being a stay at home mom is a choice *I* made. I knew when I made it that it would mean I would have less money-earning potential over the course of my lifetime. I'm fortunate in that we are able to afford to make that choice. I don't want you to worry about me Mr. President. In fact, I think you might want to be jealous of me. Because, maybe I DON'T get a paycheck . . . but I'd happily pit the perks of my job against the best of those offered to working gals in corporate America. Here are some of the "BEST PERKS AT TOP EMPLOYERS" according to Business Insider. Let's take a look, shall we? 1. Google has free food, a bowling alley, and bocce courts. "Among other benefits, employees can help themselves to whatever's in the overflowing food pantries or cafeterias and use the company's bocce courts, bowling alleys, or gyms." I TOTALLY get food at my workplace, whenever I want. And I get to pick exactly what food is available. If I want goldfish crackers and a root beer float for lunch, I can have it. If I want a bowl of Cap'n Crunch and a glass of Pinot Noir, I can have that. And WE have a trampoline and a treehouse and 567,894 Legos and I get to use them.
2. Chesapeake Energy has an indoor rock climbing wall. Okay, okay, MY rock climbing wall is outdoors. But I live in Los Angeles, so our outdoors is better than your indoors, right? Plus, I have a sandbox. And a rope swing.
3. General Mills employees can work from any space they choose within the office. "The company has begun to adopt the FUSE (Flexible User Shared Environment) program, where employees can sit and work wherever they want in the corporate headquarters." ME TOO! I get to work in ALL the places in my environment. I get to work from my kitchen, my bedroom, the garage. . . . Hey, *I* even get to work from my BATHROOM. Take THAT General Mills. (No hard feelings, though. I like your cereals.)
4. Campbell Soup Company has on-site kindergarten and after-school programs. "Campbell also has on-site fitness centers and day care centers, as well as a full kindergarten program, after school program for kids six to 12 years old, and a lactation room for nursing mothers." Hah, Campell Soup Company! I'll see your "on-site kindergarten" and raise you an on-site second grade, an on-site fourth grade, an on-site fifth grade, and an on-site seventh grade. PLUS an on-site pre-school and on-site infant care. And this whole PLACE is just one lactation room after another, as far as the eye can see . . .
5. The J.M. Smucker Company holds bowling nights and softball games for its employees. I get bowling nights, plus movie nights, and game nights, and dance parties, and birthday parties, and court-side / 50 yard line season tickets for a wide variety of sporting events. A VERY wide variety. I can go to a sporting event just about every day of the week.
6. Johnson & Johnson offers private concierge services to its employees. "At the family company Johnson & Johnson, 12,000 employees have access to a concierge service that will see to it that their chores get done. This ranges from returning overdue library books to making sure your dry cleaning gets picked up on time." I've got this too. Now, it didn't come right away. It took a few years to reach a seniority level at which I started getting some "concierge service." Note to self: start calling it that. Well, that's not true. The complimentary wake up service started right away. But then, about three years in I also started getting laundry put away for me, and trash cans emptied, and clean silverware put away. By seven years in I was getting laundry sorted, and dishes done, and some meal preparation. By ten years in I got errands run (library books and EVERYTHING), no kidding cooking and laundry, cars washed, babysitting . . . the works. It's awfully nice.
7. Mattel, Inc. allows its employees to take paid time off for their kids' school field trips. "Mattel is devoted to the happiness and futures of employees' children. Employees can . . . take advantage of a program that offers 16 hours of paid time off for school-related absences like parent-teacher conferences or field trips." Sixteen hours? Is that per YEAR? Jeesh. I get like ten hours a WEEK off for school-related field trips. And the husband and I make a point of having parent-teacher conferences, like, all the time. I would even go so far as to argue that my own family is even MORE dedicated to the happiness and future of my children than is the Mattel Corporation.
8. Microsoft Corporation has a very generous paid maternity and paternity leave. "The Microsoft Corporation gives new parents at the company generous maternity and paternity leave, but what sets Microsoft apart from other companies in this regard is that the leave is paid, rather than unpaid. Microsoft also provides a network of support systems, such as mentoring programs for parents." I've had seven babies, and each time, I've had the generous support of my husband, my parents, my in-laws, my neighbors, and my friends to help me, all without ever getting my pay docked. I have people who'll stay with my older kids while I'm in the hospital. I have people who come and pick up my kids and take them over to play at their houses, so I can have some alone time with the baby. I have weeks' worth of meals delivered, hot and fresh and at my doorstep. All for free. And I do the same for my friends when they have babies. It's lovely how it all works out. Support systems. We got 'em. Plus, my boss is the GREATEST.
So don't you worry about me and my choices Mr. President. I'm good. I'm sure you could find something else to spend your time and resources upon. Like, and I'm just throwing this out there, like encouraging the kind of workplace flexibility that would allow parents who need it to be caregivers AND providers for their children. That would be awesome. Please give my best to the family. Cheers, Kendra Tierney
p.s. Hey, working mamas. I don't know your situation, but I'm pretty sure you love your kids just as much as I do and are trying to make the best choices for your family. I feel lucky to stay home with my kids. I know it's not something every family can make happen. Hopefully you can still enjoy pictures of an almost forty year old woman jumping on a trampoline.