A Real Housewife of Wisconsin
Rachel Campos-Duffy talks about motherhood at home and on the campaign trail.


Kathryn Jean Lopez

The self-help aisle is generally one I’m not drawn to. Not because I don’t need help; heaven knows I do. But I know there’s no wheel-reinventing to be had. So I’m headed for classics — spiritual and otherwise.

Which is why a book like
Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood, by Rachel Campos-Duffy — which will wind up in the self-help section, if we’re lucky —  is so welcome. The author is looking to preserve that which many prominent women — and men — ran away from for all too long, and have paid a price for losing. And she is living, breathing credibility: a young, Catholic, Hispanic mother of six. Who — for a pop-culture reality check — was once on MTV’s The Real World (she and her husband met at a Real World reunion, as it happens) and was almost a co-host of The View (she has been a guest co-host). And she may also be spending time in Washington come January, when her husband, Sean, hopes to be sworn in to the seat of Rep. David Obey, an appropriations powerhouse who has been in office since 1969 (longer than Duffy has been alive). Obey is now retiring, Duffy having run him out of the race.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: When did you decide to become “a self-described advocate and cheerleader for at-home moms”?

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: I was a finalist for co-host of ABC’s The View twice. The second time I narrowly lost out in the competition, it occurred to me that I was already doing what God was calling me to do — being home, taking care of my kids. Before that, I sort of thought I was “between gigs,” waiting for my next big break. My oldest was five at that time, and I was starting to see the fruits of my time at home with them — their manners and sense of compassion, the things that happen when you parent well. As I began to appreciate what I was doing as a mom, I simultaneously became aware of how little the culture values it. I’m grateful that Sean verbalizes his appreciation for my choice to be home, but so many other women don’t get that validation. Even if we feel good about our days and choices, we still crave that outside validation. I guess I hoped that by writing this book I might in a small way help elevate this noble profession.

LOPEZ: Isn’t it a betrayal of the women’s movement to announce that a woman can stay home and be happy?

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Absolutely not! I’ve heard old-school feminists refer to the trend toward at-home motherhood as the “recolonization of women back into the home.” It’s so patronizing. They say our education and degrees are wasted on our children. The truth is that, despite the hard work and long hours, there are many pleasurable aspects of motherhood, and women derive very real satisfaction from feeling like they are doing it well. I think there’s a certain type of feminist who finds that truth threatening to the movement. It’s silly. I have made a choice to fully enjoy my kids and this particular season of my life. It’s a very conscious, powerful decision. In some ways, it takes more guts to buck the financial rewards and adulation that come from a professional career to pursue something so culturally undervalued as at-home motherhood.