In the spring, when Ms. Rosen dismissed her as a leisured creature of the monied elite who has “never worked a day in her life,” Mrs. Romney took to Twitter for her inaugural tweet: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
Her hard work did not go unnoticed by her husband. “I knew that her job as a mom was harder than mine,” Mr. Romney said during his convention speech on Thursday night. “I knew without question that her job as a mom was a lot more important than mine.”
Mega-rich women, it’s true, can afford to outsource the work of raising children to nannies and au pairs. Most of them do so. Mrs. Romney did not. She raised her five children herself, without any outside help.
Her second-youngest son, Ben Romney, confirmed this on Facebook in a response to Ms. Rosen’s remark: “For my Mom to raise us 5 boys, the way she did was, in my mind, the most demanding — and hopefully rewarding — work she could have done,” he wrote. “Growing up, we never had a nanny or a ‘mommy’s helper.’ Never went to daycare.”
Even in the 1980s, as Mr. Romney was getting richer and richer at Bain Capital, “The family had no cook or full-time maid,” according to a 2007 report in the Boston Globe. It was only after an emergency operation following the birth of her youngest son that Mrs. Romney hired help. And it doesn’t sound as if the pattern she set while raising her boys has really changed much now that they are grown. According to IRS forms, the Romneys had four housekeepers in 2010. Their combined salaries were only $20,603, not enough for full-time help.
Mrs. Romney did not allude to these facts before her adoring audience Tuesday night in Tampa — an odd omission in a speech meant to dispel class-conscious stereotyping of her family as an out-of-touch, idle rich clan and align the Romneys instead with everyday American experiences and values. After all, the common experience of maintaining a household, raising children, and worrying about their future, particularly in this dismal economy, is one thing — maybe one of the few — that still transcends class and wealth in this country.