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The public (outside the home) and private (within the home) do not separate easily in the life of a mother or paid worker.In this review essay we explore and critique the dichotomous conceptualizations of "stay-at-home" versus "working" motherhood by concentrating on the discrepancies between ideology and experience.
The idea of a "stay-at-home" mother is a modern mainstay in U. culture and is often thought of as the "traditional" mother.
This image has become an ideal version of what a "true" and "good" mother is and should be.
It gained its popularity from the iconic homemaker imagery of the 1950s even as the number of employed women grew (Garey, 1999).
In addition, both sides argue that society does not see the full value of what women do as mothers whether they are "at home" or "at work." Yet, neither characterization of motherhood necessarily reflects what all mothers actually experience.
We argue, as other feminist scholars have (e.g., Garey, 1999; Hondagneu-Sotelo, 2001; Uttal, 2004), that the dichotomous construction of mother versus worker oversimplifies the complexities of motherhood and work in the current economic system which requires most adults to participate in the workforce.