Wealth, The Mommy Wars, Some Family History, and the Nature of Parental Stress

My granny is the little girl on the right

Part of The Mom Pledge reads, "I want to see moms work together to build one another up, not tear each other down. Words can be used as weapons. I will not engage in that behavior."

Words like "Mommy Wars," words combined into 140 characters that set whole presidential campaigns against each other.

I'd like to address this, if I may.

The thing about life is that no matter what you're doing, you want to have somebody tell you how impressed they are with what you do.

You want to have somebody who made a different choice than you say, "Wow, I could not do what you do.  You work so hard.  You impress me so much.  You must be exhausted.  You must feel amazing about yourself."

Or, you know, some sort of paraphrased version of that.

So today it's been hard for me to get away from the back and forth over the comments that Hilary Rosen made about Ann Romney.

What she said was, “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.  She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we — why we worry about their future.”

Now, these are two entirely different statements.  If Hilary Rosen had left off that first sentence, this wouldn't have ever turned into an issue.  Of course the left believes that the Romneys are out of touch with the majority of Americans.  Let's face it, they are.  But that isn't what the argument is about.

This has been made into yet another occasion for people to accuse each other of accusing each other of being lazy.

I know that sounds like nonsense.  That's because it is nonsense.

Do stay at home moms think that working moms are worse parents?  Do working moms think that stay at home parents are worse parents?

No.  Nobody actually cares.  This only matters when somebody feels that they are being accused of being less than the best parent they can be for their children.

Being a working mom is hard.  But a lot of women in this country don't see it as a choice.  They see it as a necessity.  If they're the only parent, or if their spouse is in a low wage job, they may not have an option.  And then they see stay-at-home parents as having the luxury not to "work."

But they know that staying at home with kids is work.  It's just work that our society doesn't seem to value very much.  The United States is one of only a tiny handful of countries in the world that doesn't require employers to pay maternity leave.  In many countries, that pay can go to either parent.  In either case, a parent can stay home, if they choose, with their child.

Not so here.

So now in this country, we have a situation where some women CAN choose to go to work, or to stay home.  You have many families, like mine, where the choice comes down to whether or not the cost of childcare exceeds the benefits of a second income.

So the so-called Mommy Wars have grown around the ability women have to work, the frustration of being torn in one's desire to both contribute financially and their desire to contribute in the many intangible ways of being a constant and positive figure in their children's lives, and the frustration of people who make different choices being happy.

Because, you see, their happiness is an affront to anyone who has made a different choice.  If your life is willfully different than mine, and you are happier than I am at this moment, your happiness is an indictment of my choices.

...this is crazy talk.  But we all do this.  We all see somebody else being happy and we think that because we're exhausted or sick or overworked or somebody three feet tall has peed on our favorite chair twice that morning, they must have made a better choice.

And we can't stand that.  But we've made it up ourselves.


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Comment by samanths hines on April 25, 2012 at 11:53pm

childcare where i live is about 150+ a week in a childcare center that is 600$ a month!! The 400$ i would take home was not worth being away from my child 40hr a week and had i worked full time who knows if i would of been able to exclusively bf i am still nursing my 21month old i went back to wrk 25$ a week when she was 15months we pay no childcare costs her dad bless his heart works 430pm to 4am or later than gets up at 1045am and watches the baby tell i get home at 4! Had my job not been so willing to give me a set schedule i would not have went back i loved staying at home and the next time around i plan on doing things the same exact way! I dont look down on working moms though everyone does what they think is best what ever your choice is others should not put you down for it! both jobs are hard on a person in different ways!

Comment by silvermix81 on April 23, 2012 at 3:05pm

i'm a ft sahm and i wouldn't trade it for anything! but there is times when i do miss being out of the house, grown up time, and bringing $$$. i have a degree in graphic design and i do feel at times that it was wasted time and money for me but then i have to remember i did use it. i put my husband through school as i worked as a designer. now that he has 3 degrees, yes 3 lol, i feel like we have a safe net. he can get a job doing alot of things and has experience in alot of fields. this is what works out best for us but i know our life is most def different from everone else so i try not to judge anyone. imo all moms should stay home with their los but i know this isn't possible or even healthy for some moms. just because a mom works doesn't make her bad. she is dealing with a completely different situation than anytone else. so i try to be understanding as possible. my mom was a single mom for a long time so she had no choice. as a sahm i really hate the question "so when are you going back to work?" #1 why does that matter to you in the least bit?! #2 how is that any of your business?! i know it's a simple question but us moms, sahm and working alike, are questioning or having guilt enough over what we choice without somone doing the same. i have no plans on going back to work for several years or maybe never and when someone say something like that to me it's like they are saying "when are you going to do some work lazy" lol something like that. i just say i am at work, i've been working since i got pregnant (i was moving into my new house and painting ever since i found out). like saying to a daycare worker so when you gonna get a job lol.

Comment by skylark97 on April 19, 2012 at 10:39am

You do have some awesome blog posts. But yes! To all of this! There are days when I'd love to be a stay at home mom. I'd love to not have to pump at work or to have to leave my baby with my hubby when he's had no sleep from working his two jobs. There is a certain amount of envy that I have for sahms. On the other hand, I can see too, some of the benefits I get from being a working mom. I get adult time at work. I don't feel like I'm trapped at home all the time and when I need a break, work is often a nice respite of being something different to look forward to doing. There are pluses and minuses to being both a stay at home mom or being a working mom. At the end of the day, it's mostly about being at peace with whatever situation you've found yourself in. And I think you pegged it exactly right with the mommy wars budding right out of a person's inability to be at peace with what their life is like or has become. The grass always look greener on the other side and all that.

Comment by Shannon, Star Mom on April 17, 2012 at 9:57am

I think our economy has made it very diffiicult in both aspects of being a stay at home Mom and being a career Mom.  The stay at home Mom sometimes has no choice b/c the cost of daycare is so high it can often exceed the income from employment when travel expenses are deducted.  And for me (the career Mom) I probably could become a stay at home mom at this point, but I fear a big gap in my employment could potentially ruin my future career path.  I spent 4-5 long years finishing school, and uuuuummm I don't even wanna say how much money in student loans... and I began my professional career path at 18 years old.  So, I have really invested in myself so that I could provide a stable [financial] future for my family.  I also know the economy is still very unstable and neither me or my partner are guaranteed our job every single day (my partner lost his job about 2-3 mos. ago, but thankfully a MUCH better job opportunity came along very quickly).  So, I feel more stable when we both are working full time jobs b/c we never know what the future holds.  I did actually try being a SAHM after my first pregnancy for about 3 months... and after this last pregnancy I stayed home for about 2 months and then worked part time for a couple months, and then back to full time.  I must say, I have the utmost respect for SAHM's.  Being a SAHM was harder than any job or task I've ever had to accomplish in my life.  Anyone who has the balls to judge any stay at home mom really HAS NOT walked a mile in their shoes.   I think both SAHM's and career moms make the choice to do so b/c of their specific situation, and neither are any less of a person or are not contributing any less to society... both "jobs" contribute to our society in many different ways.  Just like the career mom is investing her work day contributing to a company that ultimately contributes to society, the SAHM might be investing more of her time to raising well-rounded, respectful children that are the future of our society... not to mention many SAHM's offer childcare in their home to help the many working parents who cannot afford the expensive childcare center costs.  Either way, it all evens out at the end of the day and none of us have any right to judge each other.  Great blog post Becoming SuperMommy!

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