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The ideology of intensive mothering, according to Sharon Hays book The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood, is commonly held among

career and stay at home moms, and it transcends class boundaries as well. Intensive mothering is the expectation that mothers should give of themselves and their resources unconditionally, including but not limited to mothers time, money, emotional support and love. Intensive mothering is al so an expectation directed toward mothers whether or not their childrens fathers are employed or considered to be equal participants of household and child-rearing tasks. The cultural expectation to mother children intensively implies that ultimately, the welfare of children is their mothers responsibility, whether or not those children are under their fathers care. If a woman works, she is expected to make up whatever lack of nurturing her time at work resulted in. Intensive mothering is based on the idea that parenting is focused on the mother, and that the mother must respond to her childs needs before her own, looking to him to inform her of what is best for him and how his needs can best be met [e.g. where Dr. Spock instruction states, follow the babys lead, (p. 112)]. Intensive

As could be expected, working mothers feel the guilt and pressures of not being able to be fully present for their childs upbringing and nurturance. They feel that childcare is a weak substitute and that even if they could afford such a luxury, a nanny or au pair simply could not be paid enough to satisfy the needs of their children that (they feel) only a parent could provide. However, mainly only mothers (and not fathers) are left with this guilt because the social construction of intensive mothering places the bulk of the burden on them. Within both spheres of intensive mothering, mothers working for pay as well as those who stay at home experience pressures and perceived obligations that are at times at odds with one another and at times insurmountable. Intensive mothering is itself an expensive, time-consuming endeavor and considered more labor-intensive and tiring than professions of very high responsibility, as mothers indicated in Hays research. The very expense of intensive mothering and allowing baby to lead mothers toward their needs (including designer clothes and toys) dictates a need for mothers to work and supply the necessary economic resources. Once in the workplace, mothers endure a work ethic and culture unforgiving of the expectations placed on them by mothering. Clearly, intensive mothering is paradoxical in this respect. To add unyielding insult to injury, a mother working for pay cannot be expected to remove from her mind the expectations that she give of her time in an effort to be the

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