The myth of the full-time mother.

Working mothers, don’t feel guilty, said Carol Sarler in the London Times. You probably spend more time with your kids than most women have throughout history. In decades and centuries past, most rich women outsourced their parenting. “Maternity and wet nurses leapt in at the cessation of labor, to be replaced by nannies and later by governesses.” Poor women worked in fields or factories with a baby strapped to them “until they had given birth to enough of them that the older cared for the younger in a haphazard daisy chain of comfort.” And middle-class women, while they may well have been full-time housewives, were certainly not full-time mothers. Before the invention of supermarkets and washing machines, shopping for food, cooking the meals, and cleaning the house took hours of arduous labor. Child rearing was limited to “a kindly but determined shooing outside to play.” Only in the last few decades can a woman who opts out of the workplace actually spend most of her time mothering. “Bully for her, if it is what she chooses.” Just don’t pretend that such “constant, vigilant, hands-on care” is anything but abnormal.

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