By Marsha Halbrook
There is a tendency today for people to equate raising children with babysitting, and homemaking with housecleaning. I can hire someone to babysit or to dean my house, but I can’t hire anyone who can train my children to deal with the complexities of fife or who can make my home a place where family members feel accepted, supported, and loved. – Cheri Loveless, Co-founder, Mothers At Home
At a time when the job market is flooded with working mothers and the women’s movements have extolled the virtues of women fulfilling themselves in meaningful careers, there is a quiet but determined revolution afoot! The organization behind this swiftly growing revolution is Mothers At Home. The founders are three Northern Virginia mothers, and the members are mothers all over the United States with allegiance spreading abroad.
Mothers At Home is a new volunteer organization devoted to the support of women who have chosen to stay at home to nurture their families. The beginnings of Mothers At Home go back several years. Janet Dittmer and Cheri Loveless began discussing ideas for boosting the spirits of others mothers at home. They talked about ways of giving the at-home moms more support, and the idea of doing a monthly newsletter came together. Soon they were joined by Linda Burton, and in January of 1984, their first issue of Welcome Home was published.
The reception of Welcome Home far exceeded all expectations! Circulation has grown from 98 subscribers in January of ’84 to 1,000 in March of ’84. As of November of 1984, circulation is close to 7,000 with requests for subscriptions pouring in daily. Interestingly enough, this growth has been without any advertisement on the editors’ part. The press has actually sought out the organization.
The editors of Welcome Home know from first-hand experience that staying home to nurture a family is perhaps the most demanding, most challenging, yet most rewarding of the many career options open to women today. It is also one of the least understood and most underrated, causing much frustration and anxiety to those who choose it. The purposes of Welcome Home are to: (1) let mothers at home everywhere know they have made a terrific choice; (2) let mothers at home know that they are not alone (in fact they comprise the single largest occupation in the country today); and (3) let mothers know that when they choose to be at home, they choose to be in wonderfully good company. Today’s mothers at home are smart, talented women who, though concerned with developing their own potential, have decided that caring for their families deserves their foremost attention at this time.
“I have working friends who say my mind is too good to stay home. I decided my mind was too good not to stay home with my children. The best minds are required there,” says Linda Burton, a 37-year old mother of two. A former publicity writer for public television, Linda had never planned to stay home. After trying the working mother role and attempting to balance “quality time,” motherhood, a career, and find good care for her children, Linda decided that the only person who would be able to give her children the kind of care she wanted them to have was herself. As for quality time-how do you explain to a baby that he is supposed to wait for “quality time” to take his first steps or speak his first words?
“When you think about what you’ve taken on, raising the future generation-the leaders and idea makers of tomorrow-you kind of shudder. It’s an awesome responsibility,” says Janet Dittmer, a mother of four. Janet is a 35-year old former researcher at Stanford Research Institute, who holds a master’s degree in clothing and textiles. “We decided when we got married I would stay home when we had kids. We don’t eat out once a week, go to movies or drive new cars. But, I think we’re doing just fine.”
Cheri Loveless, a 32-year old mother and freelance writer says, “At times, we’ve been really pinched for money. We have five children but feel strongly enough about me not working that we find ways to cope.”
The strength of this fast-growing organization has not gone unheeded by the media. The founding mothers have appeared on numerous programs, including the Phil Donahue Show and Dr. James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family. ” The message of these united mothers has also been heralded in national magazines and newspapers across the country.
The pages of Welcome Home do not attack the working mother. The editors recognize that because of pressures of today’s economy, many mothers do not have a choice. In fact, many mothers who work outside the home are Welcome Home subscribers.
The majority of articles, art work and poetry in the newsletter is contributed by the subscribers. The immediate success of the publication is proof in itself of the many talents mothers across the country possess. Thus far, some of the articles featured have been on such topics as raising teen-agers, the real feelings surrounding a miscarriage, the challenges of raising a handicapped child, ways a mother finds relief during her twenty-four-hour-a-day job in order to renew herself, and teaching appreciation of the fine arts to children. Regular columns address the issue of making and saving money at home, problems and solutions, the preschool years, and home management. With the arrival of the new year, plans are underway to add other monthly columns and to increase the number of pages in the newsletter.
To meet the demands of the publication, the editors have relied on volunteer mothers who regularly donate time to answer mail and attend various other jobs. The mail room includes a large well-equipped play area so that mothers can bring their children and supervise them while they handle the mail and visit with other moms. Aware that the demands of the thriving newsletter could threaten their number one priority — their families — Janet Dittmer says, “We realize that our first priority is to be mothers at home. We made the choice and we’re not going to do anything, no matter how great the cause, to-take ourselves away from our families more than we feel is appropriate . . . . We’re mothers at home, that’s our first priority.”
For a one year subscription to Welcome Home send $12 ($15 outside the U.S.) to Welcome Home, P.O. Box 2208, Dept. GT, Merrifield, Virginia 22116.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 16, pp. 496-497
August 15, 1985