Mary Hubbard is a housewife and she doesn't think that should be a dirty word.
Hubbard's son David was 3 months old when people started asking her when she was going back to work. She got "the pressure" from all sides: neighbors, People in the supermarket, magazines, people she used to work with when are you coming back?
For a while she believed she would go back - 15, maybe 20 hours a week, "to keep contact with the adult world."
But finally she made her decision and called the firm where she had worked as a legal secretary. "When my son was 10 months old I called and said it's been very obvious since David was 6 months old I don't want to go back to work. There's just too many things I want to do with him."
Mary Hubbard has remained home for all of Daivd's 2 years and she has done many things with him. She has gotten down on the floor and made "little truck noise with him." She is a full-time mother in a society that, she says, exerts "unspoken pressure" on women to work. "Mothering is becoming a lost and we've got to revive it," she says "to make it important again."
Hubbard is 29, a small woman with radiant dark hair, bright eyes looking out through hexagonal gold-framed glasses, delicate hands that move expressively when she speaks, which is often. She laughs often too, a low easy laugh. She says she will not go back to work until her son is in school full time. She figures that costs her family $6,000 or more in net income after deducting the minimum of $3,000 a year ih babysitting costs for her to work.
But Mary Hubbard has seen friends and neighbors leave children to baby-sitters and day-care centers and she has seen the results: children she finds too aggressive, or children who shrink into corners, or children "who are not as curious about how things work." She is not going to do it.
Hubard lives in a $60,000-plus, wood-sided contemporary home in Sterling, Va., a neighborhood of double garages, mowed lawns, potted petunias and frail young dogwoods. Her husband is a mathematician for the Central Intelligence Agency. They are not rich.She speaks wistfully of another time when mothers stayed home and raised children and the family had only one car.
"But today you can't say you don't have this or you're doing without that because money's tight. Now people say well, get your wife out to work - or get your husband out ot work."
Mary Hubbard is the parent at home, but in her scheme of things it could just as well be the husband. She wants a world in which "whoever is the priniciple supplier of income could get moral support from society to say no, we can't get a bigger house or another car because one of us has to stay home and do the mothering.
"I'm partly guilty beacuse when [See HUBBARD, C5 Col.1] [HUBBARD, From C1] someone aks me when am I going back to work I say I don't know: I'm not brave enough to say 'not until David's olders.' This time of his life is just too important."
"It's "his childhood," she says. "Because of my heart condotion, I didn't have a childhood. Not at all. I couldn't run, I couldn't laugh, I couldn't jump. I could sit. That's about all. I had to eat dinner very slowly. I don't remember a chilhood other than standing and watching.
"I know my childhood influences me but I don't think it's the sole fact. It's a feeling from within that if I did have a child I'd want to spend time with him, to teach him, to get down on the floor and make little truck noises with him. Perhaps the more opposite his childhood is from mine the more success I feel I'm making of it."
And she is working at it. She nursed for 15 months. She is in an organization of some 3,000 poeple called Parent and Child Inc., which educates adults on how to be good parents. Throughout the Metropolitan area mothers are like Mary Hubbard meet regulary to share information on pregnancy, chilbirth, child-raising and to strengthen each other's belief that being a mother is important.
She regurarly attends its lectures on child-raising: lastmonth discipline, this month toilet training, next month nutrition. She and three other mothers in Sterling have formed a children's play group that meets Friday mornings. From them and other friends she has learned what it is like to be a child, and how to be a mother.
These are the women she called last winter when it snowed - the first snow Daivd was old enough to enjoy. "I didn't know what to let David do. I was never allowed to play in the snow."
She is not what she calls the "Sesame Street% mother, the woman who stays home to raise her children, but parks them in front of the television to learn, and then takes pride in how much the child knows. "To say Sesame Street has taught David everything...I would be ashamed to say it. I think its fun to read to him, to teach him his letters."
Most of the time Hubbard is sure she is doing the right thing but sometimes, she says, when she is depressed and she reads an article about how terrific it is to be a working woman or when she runs into former colleagues, she has moments of doubt.
"For every one person telling me I'm doing the right thing to staying home and taking care of David I have three people telling me I should go back to work. It shouldn't be a dirty word to say I'm a housewife.
"My neighbor says, 'Since you aren't pregnant with another child you must be thinking of getting a part-time job.' "She hears that suggestion, she says, up and down the street, in the stores. "I say 'No I'm staying home,' and they just look at you and think, 'Oh, what a strange person.'
"A woman who has decided that her interest lies in staying home and raising the child needs just as much encouragement as the woman who decides, 'I can't take this. I've got to get out of the house.'
"I think if there was a little more support from society for women to stay home, more would do it."