Stop the Mommy Wars

Stop the Mommy Wars

Another election year, and another opportunity to pit women in the workforce against women in the homeforce.  This time, it's Hilary Rosen — a Democratic strategist — against Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.  As soon as I saw one friend declare on Facebook that Dems don’t respect stay-at-home moms, I knew the next couple of weeks would be a big ’ole cat fight, one that pollsters would try to harness for women’s votes in November.

So I’m here to save everyone some time and set the record straight.  I’m a mom.  At the beginning of my daughter’s life, I did not have a job.  Now I do.  Since I’m clearly an expert, let me shed a little light on this issue and state the obvious: THEY ARE BOTH HARD JOBS.  Let me break it down for you.

Stay-at-Home Moms

First of all, if we can put someone on the moon, why can’t we figure out a better name for moms who don’t show up on a company’s payroll?  Because, in all honesty, so-called stay-at-home moms are not home that much.  Instead, we’re out all day, schlepping, clapping, wiping, teaching, purchasing, and budgeting.  Simply put: We do it all — except receive a much-deserved paycheck.

When we are home, we do so much more than the hubbies because we tend to — get this — feel guilty that we’re not bringing home the bacon.  So we pay the bills, cook dinner, give the kids their baths, clean and organize the house, put the wholesome organic foods that we’ve just bought in the fridge, and so on.

And we sacrifice.  We deal with the boredom and monotony that come with being around children all day.  We read them stories when we’d rather be flipping through a fashion magazine.  We take them to every kids event in town because we want to stimulate their senses, open up their world, and make them positive, contributing members of society who can choose whatever the heck they want to do in life (include raise their kids full time) and feel good about those choices.

Working Moms

Again, how can we not think of a better name for us gals who work?  Being a working mom can be exciting, fun, and stimulating.  We get to have grown-up conversations and wear dry clean–only clothes.  If we’re lucky, we get to tap into our creativity and use the fancy degrees we worked our asses off for.

Yet we also feel guilty that we’re not spending enough time with our kids.  We often hire someone else to care for them and, in doing so, worry that they’ll miss us or will feel we’ve chosen our careers over them.  We love our kids deeply and wonder if someday we’ll feel we’ve missed out on some special moments.  But when a project comes together or we receive a promotion, we hope a couple of things: first, that someday they’ll be proud of us and, second, that we’re helping all women ascend in the workforce by staying in it and showing men that we can do it all, even if we’re working harder and getting paid less than the guys in order to prove our point.

Meanwhile, at home we’re still doing more than 50 percent of the housework.  And we’re still trying to stay in shape, keep our teeth reasonably white, and have a social life.  And sometimes, yes, we envy moms who are happy being with their kids full time.

Now, come on ladies, how about we stop arguing about who has it harder and start helping each other?  Wouldn’t it be awesome if workforce moms could give homeforce moms technology tutorials and share the scoop on other cool things happening in offices today, in case at some point the homeforce moms want or need to go back?  And wouldn’t it be so fab if homeforce moms could help other women figure out more than one healthy lunch option for our little ones?  We have so much to learn from each other.  Let's not fall into some stupid trap laid by politicians who know that we’re more likely to vote if they piss us off.

So for those of you still tweeting, FB-ing, and arguing about who works harder and who doesn’t understand whom, please hear me when I tell you this lovingly: PLEASE KNOCK IT THE F OFF.  To help you focus all of that passion somewhere else, here's a quick list of important issues we should we tackling, together:

- legislation making it challenging for women to get birth control

- health insurance changes that are detrimental to women

- child slavery, right in our own cities

- hungry children, again, right in our own cities

If you need more ideas, please let me know.  I have many.  In the meantime, please get off the angry train and stop arguing with other women about our life choices.  Instead, tell another mom, regardless of whether she's employed or not, that you respect her and her decisions.  Doing otherwise only hurts us and our kids.

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  • one thing the mommy wars tell us is how emotional this issue is for most women - just look how little it takes for another flare-up to start. The reason it's such an emotional issue is that all of us feel that we are not getting the support we need to manage the stress involved in whatever work/family equation we've chosen. So let's focus on getting that support! In addition to the 4 points made by Wendy, I would include: affordable childcare for the "workforce" and more respect and financial support for the "homeforce". We are not just doing this for our own good - everybody benefits from the investment we make in raising good kids.

  • such wonderful points, lanabe. thank you for sharing!

  • of course this was political in ways to harness the female voters, both sides do the same thing to get those undecided to get to that team. It is such a sensitive subject for all moms, because we all feel guilt if we work or don't. However, they just shouldn't have gone there because at the end of the day aren't we ALL "working" moms?. It is all about equality, but how about extending maternity leave so moms can stay home longer to care for their infants? It is not even a right to have that time off with pay here in the USA. Perhaps if some were not forced to go back to work, there would be less guilt and more opportunities to raise our kids without the pressures of society (and politics :)

  • You bring up such great points, HealthyJasmine! I've heard that Germany's maternity leave is 5 YEARS! And your organization must hire you back at the same level as where you were when you left.

    The only point I must respectfully disagree with you on is referring Hilary Rosen as "they." I think it's reflective of how polarized we've become as a society, when we hold up one person's careless statement as representative of an entire political party. Democrats and Republicans demonize one another, which has led to a country that is more polarized than ever (and that's because of both sides, not just one). It's painful to observe such divisiveness and listen to vitriolic rhetoric. I can barely follow the news anymore, and I once considered myself a news junkie.

    I read somewhere that there has never been as little overlap/common ground among the two parties as there is today. And that, considering all of the huge issues we're facing on a national and global scale, is sad and scary.

    I wonder why women aren't coming together as a community to advocate for some of the issues you bring up such as equality, paid maternity leave... if we don't, who will?

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