Clearly, this mommy war business is an extension of childhood bullying, of some visceral need to tear others down in order to build ourselves up. In the end, it does nothing more than manifest deep-rooted insecurities from which many of us women suffer.
This “war” is way more complex that we can imagine. There are no “teams” that fit into neat little boxes. It’s not the stay-at-homes vs. the work-at-homes vs. the work-outside-the-homes. There are no sides to take. Each woman’s plight and situation is different and unique. We all do the best we can under the circumstances around which our lives orbit. And most of us are working our asses off, in some way or another.
So the narrative is redundant, rhetorical, and pointless. Nobody wins. And no matter what you do, you cannot escape criticism.
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We’re damned if we work outside the home and damned if we don’t. If we stay home and do anything other than slave ourselves keeping house and a watch over the kids, we’re selfish. If we incorporate a little “me-time” into the mix like a class at the gym or lunch with a friend, we’re being negligent or irresponsible and might as well get a “real job” to fill in the gaps.
The truth of the matter is that many women who stay home don’t do so by choice. They are uneducated or unemployable for whatever reason. And let’s get one thing straight: Being home doesn’t directly translate into active or better parenting.
Granted there are those privileged to stay home, not needing to work to contribute to the family pot, to the likes of Ann Romney. And many of these mothers aren’t necessarily focused just on child-raising either. And don't be so quick to judge, not everything is as it appears to be.
Personally, I haven’t a clue whether or not Ann Romney was the most dedicated, selfless mother who nullified her very own existence for the advancement of her family. Who really is privy to such information outside her immediate nucleus? Maybe a small squad of nannies did most of the child-rearing work. After all, she certainly has and had the means. But does it really matter at the end of the day?
I lived many years in Panama, South America, where in addition to the super-wealthy, most every lower to upper middle class family employs at least two housekeepers. Being the lone gringa amongst my Latina peers, I felt the cultural imperative to return home from social outings and engagements early to tuck my kids in for the night. But many mothers with whom I socialized did not. They didn’t fret about it either. And their kids turned out fine. Because access to domestic help enables us moms a chance to disconnect a little from the daily drudgery of running a household and lead a more balanced life.
Is that such a bad thing? I mean, isn’t a well-adjusted mother one who pursues her own endeavors---in addition to those inherent in motherhood---a happier, more mentally-sound person overall?
If Mama is happy, ain’t the whole family better off?
My solution: We must change the collective optic. Because this entire debate reflects a society beset with deeply chauvinistic roots. Each time we judge one another and point fingers, we reinforce an antiquated belief system that gets us nowhere fast.
Think about it. The men who’ve opted out of the rat-race, who’ve lost jobs and have turned in their briefcases for diaper bags don’t get bashed by their counterparts in power suits. These stay-at-home or work-at-home dads don’t get publicly humiliated, touted as lazy or spoiled, or selfish and callous. There is no outrage directed at them.
C’mon ladies. If we want to drum up support for the real issues, as Margaret Carlson says, like insurance coverage for contraception and continued funding for Planned Parenthood, we must stop the vitriol, the petty comparisons, and change the prevailing paradigm.
Sorry ladies, but this time it behooves us to act more like men.
United we stand, divided we fall.