Bust-In Moms: The New Mommy Trend?

Monday, October 27, 2008
Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake, blogs over at Tina Brown's Daily Beast this morning about the Other Financial Meltdown that’s happening – that of the Wall Street wives, whose husbands are losing their bonuses, jobs and houses, and who are consequently starting to suffer. She quotes one of these women, called “the Mrs. Richan Vulgars”:
“People are totally freaking out,” says Marilena Greig, a divorced New Canaan stay-at-home mom I interviewed for The Feminine Mistake. “I go to yoga in Greenwich with a lot of these women who spend their days shopping. Now their husbands have lost their jobs, and people are terrified. They’re pulling the plug on everything; they’re telling their kids, ‘That’s it!’ These are people who live in 30,000-square-foot houses, but a lot of them live on the edge; they’re leveraged not only in their accounts, but in their lives. There are a lot of ‘For Sale’ signs on these properties now, but the houses are not moving. And two-thirds of the marriages in Fairfield County end in divorce. There are so many women going to these job counselors, but they’ve been out of the work force for 20 years. What do they do to make money? How do they support their lifestyles?”
This got me thinking. For the past five to ten years, during the boom years, we’ve read countless articles about Opt-Out Moms: professional women who went to the best schools, worked in top firms and companies, then left it all when they had kids to stay at home. Clearly that was a choice in the boom years, while their husbands made bank and their 401k’s soared. But now that many of those husbands are experiencing a drop in compensation or job loss, and those 401ks are quickly plummeting, opting out may no longer be a viable choice – especially considering that some of those marriages might have held together sheerly for economic reasons.

With times looking to be lean for the next few years, perhaps we are looking at a new mommy trend: that of Bust-In Moms. Bust-In Moms will be, in essence, Opt-Out Moms who have to get back into the workplace in order to attempt to continue their standard of living. They will either have to rekindle their previous careers as professionals, or try a completely new field if it’s really been 20 years -- or if their old career was in financial services. They won’t be able to be picky; security and stability will be keywords in their job search.

If growing numbers of Opt-Out Moms re-enter the workforce, there will be repercussions on all of the dependent areas. Bust-In Moms will need quality childcare, affordable work outfits, fast and healthy family dinner options, and of course, career guidance. (I also predict sequels of Working Girl and Baby Boom, coming soon to a theater near you!)

The scary part about all this, of course, is that jobs will be hard enough to get and maintain for women who’ve been working all along. All of those flexible schedules we’ve fought so hard for may go flying out of the window in the face of plunging profit lines. For Bust-In Moms, there may be few jobs to bust back into. For instance, Greig, the woman mentioned above, ended up getting a job cold-calling to sell supplemental insurance on commission. But there’s no salary.

Many stay-at-home moms who weren’t professionals or high earners to begin will also have to get back into the workplace, and for them the options will be even fewer.

Bennetts, whose book is all about the mistake stay-at-home moms are making by not earning a living and having a livelihood outside of raising their children, says she takes no satisfaction in being right about her ideas. And indeed, there is no satisfaction seeing the lifestyle options of women and moms dwindle even further. I have a feeling our generation will be forever changed by this recession. I know I’ll definitely be teaching my daughter about the benefits of staying active in the workforce.
Anonymous said...

i know this isn't going to be popular but i just wish all the mommies i knew would stop whining about balance all the time. it's not like the rest of us have balance in our lives, and i would bet that that the majority of mothers who use the word as their calling card (a) never had it pre-baby either and (b) didnt like their jobs in the first place.

Anonymous said...

do you think that every woman who has made the decision to stay at home with her children after having a career just turns into a brainless, crafting, shopping idiot who has nothing interesting to say anymore? is this how you really perceive stay-at-home moms? let's have a little respect for whatever choices mothers make today, because whether we decide to go back to work or stay at home, it is a hard choice.

i plan to teach my children that yeah, it's wonderful if you want to be a working parent. but it's also wonderful if you want to take some time to stay at home with them.

and also let's not forget about all the women who willingly take a financial hit just to stay at home with their kids!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the women who decide to stay home turn into "brainless, crafting, shopping" idiots. Few of the stay-at-home moms I know are any good at any crafts.

monica said...

I think there's a distinction to be made between the ultra-rich women Bennetts is writing about, and the majority of stay-at-home moms. (Most of the SAHMs I know have very little time to shop, let alone do crafts!) I also don't necessarily agree with Bennett's characterization of SAHM's choice to stay at home as a "mistake." My point is that it's going to be increasingly financially difficult for women to make the decision to stay at home. And that SAHMs who chose to stay home, and now no longer have that option, are going to be at a disadvantage in this new economy. And that's a shame, no matter what you spend your day doing.

rupal s said...

commenter #1: people like you are the reason why there's sucha gap between women with kids and w/o kids. you'll never understand ..... until you do.

Shama said...

I am a stay-at home mom for the last many, many years and have loved it though i do my work from home and get the best of both worlds.I am a real estate consultant and my home doubles up as my office.So i think we women can adapt ourselves to whatever comes our way as long as we have out priorities in the right place.

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