Barbara Walters’ Question on The View Gives Pregnant Pause

National   Steven Ertelt   Dec 16, 2010   |   2:40PM    Washington, DC

The View co-host Barbara Walters is getting an earful from popular pro-life blogger and family advocate Rachel Campos-Duffy.

She made the mistake of asking  Campos-Duffy, whose pro-life husband Sean Duffy recently won election to a Congressional seat in Wisconsin, a question that made it appear Walters assumed Campos-Duffy regrets how her large family has supposedly hindered her career. It hasn’t.

Walters inquired:  “Did you ever think, ‘I wish I had a career and I didn’t have six kids?”

With baby number six sitting on her lap at the time, Campus-Duffy simply responded, “Being a mom is the best job in the world!”

Now, with more time to reflect, the respected writer has a more detailed answer of what she would have said:

Politico called the answer “diplomatic”, and National Review’s Kathryn Lopez tweeted that it was “graceful,” but I couldn’t help being disappointed with my response. Not that it wasn’t true – being a mom is the best job in the world – but I felt that a question as culturally loaded as this one deserved a better answer, especially from someone who has written countless columns and an entire book on the subject of at-home motherhood and the sad fact that our culture does little to applaud or elevate this noble calling.

So, if I had it to do over again, what would I say to Barbara? I’d say, “Barbara, I consider it a privilege and a blessing to have six kids and watch them grow up. As fun as it is to be here with you all (and it is!) I wouldn’t trade the precious and fleeting time I have home with my kids for anything.”

The truth is, I honestly hold nothing against Barbara for asking the question. Come on, it’s The View! We expect conversation-starters and brutally blunt discussion. More importantly, I understood full well what Barbara was trying to say. She’s a smart woman and a mom herself, so she knows that raising children, especially six, involves not only professional sacrifices, but also many daily personal sacrifices. From Barbara’s perch, I can see why my decision to choose at-home motherhood in rural Wisconsin over a “budding career” as she called it, seems perplexing.

What I failed to articulate in that moment on behalf of all the other at-home moms watching is that amid the daily diapers, dishes and tedium, there is also a certain kind of happiness that one can only derive from service to others – especially our children. In our me-first culture, that is a very counter-intuitive notion, but one that recent scientific studies into the field of “happiness” is confirming. People who serve others are happier, regardless of their income or personal circumstances.

But setting aside service for a moment, perhaps the most under-examined aspect of mothering is pleasure – yes, pleasure! Despite the hard work, an increasing number are choosing to do it full-time because they derive real pleasure and a deep sense of satisfaction from doing it well.

Being an at-home parent does not make me a better parent. What it does afford me are more opportunities to become the best parent I can be. That’s as satisfying a feeling as any daytime Emmy — and it won’t wear off when the headlines fade.

Time spent with my kids permits me to better understand their personalities and needs. Like any other profession or sport, I improve my skills and techniques the more time I spend doing it. Becoming a better player in the parenting game means more moments to enjoy the game – or in this case, delight in my children. Would I trade that for anything? Not a chance. Not even for a career as illustrious and historic as Barbara Walters’.