New-fashioned Motherhood

So we’re coming full circle, after all the decades of enlightenment and empowerment by the feminist movement. The merits of staying home to raise children well are becoming a newly re-discovered….mother lode for women and families.

Someone had to do it, and the natural was Rachel Campos-Duffy. She has written a book about it, and the title is as delightfully simple as is the concept: Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood. Kathryn Jean Lopez draws her out….which is about as hard as saying “Go.”

The author is looking to preserve that which many prominent women — and men — ran away from for all too long, and have paid a price for losing. And she is living, breathing credibility: a young, Catholic, Hispanic mother of six. Who — for a pop-culture reality check — was once on MTV’s The Real World (she and her husband met at a Real World reunion, as it happens) and was almost a co-host of The View (she has been a guest co-host). And she may also be spending time in Washington come January, when her husband, Sean, hopes to be sworn in to the seat of Rep. David Obey, an appropriations powerhouse who has been in office since 1969 (longer than Duffy has been alive).

What’s going on here?

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: I was a finalist for co-host of ABC’s The View twice.

(She should have won the spot two times ago.)

The second time I narrowly lost out in the competition, it occurred to me that I was already doing what God was calling me to do — being home, taking care of my kids. Before that, I sort of thought I was “between gigs,” waiting for my next big break. My oldest was five at that time, and I was starting to see the fruits of my time at home with them — their manners and sense of compassion, the things that happen when you parent well. As I began to appreciate what I was doing as a mom, I simultaneously became aware of how little the culture values it. 

So, unlike the majority of us who say ‘someone ought to do something’….she did something. Her book is full of common sense. But since it’s not so common anymore, it’s refreshing. Like this part…

They really aren’t secrets. They are ideas and techniques for enjoying motherhood that have worked for me. They aren’t complicated. The real secret is internalizing the fact that we all need to constantly recommit, sometimes daily (even hourly!), to whatever principles or techniques make our daily lives more enjoyable and joyful. It’s very easy as moms to get caught up in to-do lists and forget to indulge in our child’s particular laugh or smile.

This is a reminder of simple pleasures, of finding joy in everyday stuff (no matter whether that sounds corny) and especially if it seems mundane.

How did this young woman whose star was rising in Hollywood wind up in Wisconsin, with six children, and so darned happy?

I have MTV to thank for that. Only on The Real World would a conservative Latina from Arizona meet an Irish-American lumberjack attorney from rural Wisconsin. We fell in love and married while I was auditioning for The View. The deal we made was if I got the job, we’d move to New York City. If I didn’t, I would move to Hayward, Wisconsin, his hometown. I didn’t get the job, and I moved from Beverly Hills to rural Wisconsin. I have fallen in love with the people of Wisconsin for the same reasons I fell in love with Sean. They are kind, unassuming, good-natured, and honest. In a nutshell — so not L.A. There is truly no better place to raise kids. As for Wal-Mart, well, I’m not above admitting that most of my date nights with Sean end with a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up diapers and anything else I need.

Which begs the question….what else do we need?