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Stay-at-Home Mothers

The concept of stay-at-home motherhood is largely a 20th-and 21st-century construct. Historians argue that the beginning of stay-at-home motherhood dates back to the 1920s and 1930s. Today, external idealized expectations, financial concerns, and women's own desires can lead to feelings of guilt over whether they choose to devote themselves to full-time motherhood or combine mothering with working outside of the home.

Such conflicts for mothers, both personally and politically, distract from the continued public/private dichotomy and the dual burden of work and care that many contemporary mothers, whether staying at home or in paid work, continue to struggle with. In such conflicting circumstances, women are striking (sometimes poor) bargains to meet dual demands of work and home.

The Stay-at-Home Ideal

By the 1940s, many mothers suffered ...

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