Wasn’t the point of the feminist movement that women have choices? Choices about the course of her own life unfettered by father, husband, and society? At the time the choice seemed simple and direct–out of the kitchen and into fulfilling careers. Right?
The Mommy Wars are a well-known phenomenon–identified and written about by any major women’s/parenting magazine. However, perhaps both corners–the working mom (WM) and the stay at home mom (SAHM)–are judging each other less than we assume. Perhaps the whole war isn’t really a war at all–or it wasn’t until everyone started telling us we were fighting. Or maybe we just have to be bitter with each other to feel better about ourselves.
Sigh. Ladies, really? Did we really surf the wave of feminism to this beach? Working mom, stay at home mom–we are all mothers. Part of me doesn’t understand the motivation for all of the self-righteousness.
In almost all conversations on the topic, even the respectfully polite can be prodded into defensive maneuvers. It’s that moment where a perfectly reasonable comment sets off the bristling the leg-hair of 50 women and a bunch of sucker punches are thrown from all sides.
Then we all know the sanctimonious snotty mom–and both corners have their fair share. The working mom who rolls her eyes while talking about how she has maintained her identity, “unlike poor little Besty from next door. That poor girl barely even gets to shower…and she always looks like rumpled crap.” Or, “her poor children are going to have a hard time in kindergarten, they are completely un-socialized because they don’t go to preschool.”
Then there is the self-righteously pious SAHM, who sneers over her freshly-baked, from-scratch cookies, about how she “couldn’t imagine only spending 2 hours a day with her children**–how awful that must be for those poor children.” Even while—in the next breath–saying, “it must be nice to have a housekeeper come to clean the toilets.”
**This quality time argument really gets to me. I am a SAHM and I still only spend–on average–about 2 hours a day of pure, focused time with my kids. Before you all gasp at my neglect, let me describe what doesn’t count as focused time, in my opinion: playdates, nap-time, errands, their own independent play and/or any time spent watching TV. That breaks down into about 2 hours for me, from when they wake up until when I go hide in another room after dinner. Yes, I’m still “on duty” because it’s very against the law to leave them home alone, or drop toddlers off at the park while you go to the mall–but I’m still not directly interacting with them.
Each corner is guilty of that self-righteous pietistic-type thinking to some degree, as humans we think it about everyone else, yes? “Wow, it sure would be nice to have Angelina Jolie’s money.” But the flip side of that will always be, “wow, it sure would be hard to see rumors about my failing marriage in the tabloids every week.” Even the happiest, luckiest of lives have a down side.
The bottom line is working and staying home moms are pretty evenly split–for the female gender, at least. Most working women have no choice–their financial contribution is a requirement for their family. Then there are those women who work, not because of finances, but because they want to. There are women who stay at home because the job they could get wouldn’t offset the cost of daycare. Or the women that stay home because that’s what they want to do.
When you remove finances from the equation you have women who work–or don’t work–because they want to. And here is where I get pissed off at the whole debate– the venom that both sides throw at each other in attempt to be more. More what, exactly? More of a woman? More of a mother? Making more of a self-sacrifice (both sides think they do this, by the way) because that makes you a better person overall?
Just because I feel right about my choice to stay home doesn’t make your choice to work wrong.
Let’s repeat that:
Feeling right about my choices doesn’t make your choices wrong.
If we could all apply that mantra across our lives, how much better would the world be?
Hmm, so basically I don’t need to make someone else feel they are wrong in order to firmly believe my decisions are right for me–not so much right for my family, selfish as that sounds–but right for ME. Crap, I just read that same parable in a Bernstein Bears book.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–I don’t deserve a Supermom medal because I stay at home. A working mom doesn’t deserve one for working, either. A single, working mom? Yeah, if anyone can claim themselves Supermom, it is them.
Let’s be real here, both situations have difficult challenges. And, yes, those challenges can be equally difficult even while being completely different.