Suzanne Fields

When a successful (single) career woman pokes fun at women with babies in strollers, you know she's either feeling unsure of the choices she's made or she's down to her last idea for a Father's Day column.

Maureen Dowd, femme fatalist for the New York Times, may be feeling a little woozy after the sturm and drang at her newspaper. Maybe we should cut her a little slack. But knocking motherhood?

She describes women who have left careers to be full-time mothers as "Stepford wives" addicted to spending their days at Starbucks. She hates it that they actually enjoy "gabbing with the girlfriends" over an iced latte when they could be writing important columns bashing Rummy, Dick and W.

She reports that the moms talk about babies, recipes and gardens (which they do), but a reporter who actually went to Starbucks to listen (or hired a better stringer to do it for her) would have heard conversations about local politics as it affects the education of their children, safety on the streets and how the cost of malpractice insurance is driving up the cost of pediatric care for their children.

What the famous pundit may not know is that these moms match the contempt of the Maureen Dowdies of the world with pity for those mired in a '70s mindset, where what you "do" on the public stage defines who you are.

"I often work harder now than when I was a newspaper reporter," one offended reader wrote to the New York Times. "What I am doing now is more important and rewarding."

The Maureen Dowdies are 30 years behind the curve and they know it - and hate it. They're the childless chicks, robotically reacting to the women who enjoy family life more than their abandoned treadmills to the fast track.

The trend today is sharply toward full-time motherhood. In 1994, 9.3 million children younger than 15 had stay-at-home married mothers and working fathers, according to Jason Fields, author of a new report published by the Census Bureau.

That number had risen to 11 million by 2002. The number of working mothers with infants dropped from 59 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in the year 2000. Increasing numbers of mothers with teenagers, aware of the dangers of sex and drugs for the latchkey kid, are dropping out of full-time work outside the home.

These moms are not complaining about husbands keeping them "in their place." The places have changed, and changed utterly. They enjoy escapes to the gym, yoga classes, and - horrors! - coffee breaks at Starbucks. Technology has liberated them to run businesses out of their homes, if that's what they want to do.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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