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Motherhood and paid work are intimately intertwined and most women maintain both social roles simultaneously, negotiating the boundaries of each every day.
This image has become an ideal version of what a "true" and "good" mother is and should be.
It gained its popularity from the iconic homemaker imagery of the 1950s even as the number of employed women grew (Garey, 1999).
Popular media from television images of mothers, advice and self-help books for expectant or new mothers, and news stories on motherhood all rely on this oversimplification.
From Eisenberg et al.'s (2002) which promotes a "better baby" through constant contact with the mother, experts continually suggest that women are mothers or workers.
Often this decision is portrayed in terms of whether one will be a "stay-at-home" and presumably "full-time" mother or a "working mother" and therefore one who prioritizes paid work.
"The dominant culture portrayal of work and family for women in the United States classifies women as either work oriented or family oriented" (Garey, 1999, p. Thus, women are socially constructed as either mothers or workers, but not both.
Recent news articles about professional women who are "opting out" of paid work in order to mother, or who struggle to balance the two, also perpetuate this dichotomy (Belkin, 2003; Warner, 2005).
Parenting advice books, current news stories, and other forms of popular media help to create a binary between "stay-at-home" and "working" mothers, so that we are unable to conceptualize both statuses in the same person.
Specifically, it assumes that those who are at home are not participating in the paid work force and that those who are working outside the home are disengaged from being mothers.
The reality is not clear cut since stay-at-home mothers have varied levels of interaction with their children, complete domestic work without receiving salaried income, and work for paid income either from the home or part-time outside the home (Garey, 1999; Hertz, 1997; Johnston & Swanson, 2004; Ranson, 2004; Uttal, 2004).