Real Moms Kill the Mommy Wars
It seems like a lot of my favorite bloggers are writing about their various frustrations with the ‘mommy wars’ lately. The Feminist Breeder, The Stir, and Smrt Mama all have written thought-provoking pieces, and so I (never one to miss a bandwagon) thought I’d chime in with my thoughts as well.
I keep hearing all this noise about the ‘mommy wars’ and I have to say that the ONLY place I ever hear about it is in the media. Absolutely NO ONE that I know in real life has ever so much as alluded to being in competition with moms who work, or stay home, or use day-care, or don’t. In my community*, the moms support each other, they help where they can, and at the end of the day, they’re just too damn tired to worry about what Mrs. Smith/Jones/Wilson down the street is doing with her kids.
In the course of an average day, I may have any or all of the following things on my mind:
- feeding the children
- cleaning up after the children
- helping the children learn to clean up after themselves
- helping that behavior become a habit (can they not SEE that the kitchen trash can is FULL??)
- keeping the fridge and pantry both clean and stocked
- educating the children
- keeping my Loverly Husband interested
- providing social opportunities for my children
- not letting clinical depression get the best of me
- why are the only bathroom smell options I am allowed limited to dirty socks-and-pee or bleach?
- motivating myself to do any of the 20 things that need to be done rightfreakingnow
- I really need to go visit my parents and my grandmother
- my NYE resolutions
- planning next week’s lessons/activities
- I need to go have coffee with my friends
- I really want to work in my art journal
- sorting things into keep, sell, donate and throw-away piles
- family nutrition
- community service
- recent community events
- recent global events
- how to help
- how to talk to my kids about them and teach my kids to help
- I need coffee
- the song that’s stuck in my head
And that’s only a small sampling. I certainly don’t have time to even notice what Suzy Homemaker and Janice the Attorney are doing with their kids, much less worry about or compare. I take it on faith that she’s doing the best she can with the resources that she has available to her. If that means family that help her out or a nanny in the budget – well, more power to her. If she’s a single mom, struggling to make ends meet and ensure that her kids are fed and bathed (and must endure others taking on those tasks while she works a crappy job and goes to school for a few years so she can ultimately provide a better life for herself and her kids), then rock on, you hard-working, brass-balled WOMAN. Yeah!
Media portrayal of mothers at each other’s throats is a fantasy. It’s an unrealistic stereotype that grown ups don’t have time for. Every mother sees huge cracks in the persona that she presents to the world, and every. single. mom. has regrets and guilt over the paths that she did take and the ones she didn’t. Suzy Homemaker looks cool as a cucumber and so well-put together. Her kids hang on her and she rises above it all like the Empress of Compassion and Patience. In reality, she’s frazzled. She desperately wishes that she had a few moments to herself and could afford a pedicure. Janice the Attorney looks great in her power suit and can delegate without missing a beat. But you’ll never see her cry about missing Little Johnny’s first smile or steps or first day of school – instead, she has to hear about it from someone else. You also don’t see the boss in the background, or the snide remarks from the child-free that she endures because she dared to have a child instead of focusing on her career. And Sally Single Mom misses out on everything – at least for a while – without bitching-n-moaning about it. She doesn’t have time to complain, or worry what you think or say because she has precious few hours with her kids and she’s going to make the most of them.
Surely you see that these are stereotypes. Furthermore, I think they’re media-influenced stereotypes and that no one fits them for real. In truth, there are benefits and drawbacks to any course of action or choice as a parent. Being a stay at home mom is great. I love it 99% of the time. But it’s a lot of work, and it works for me. It may or may not work for you. Or for her. Or for them. And that’s fine. She loves working – it’s fulfilling in ways that I don’t understand (because that’s not my personality); and she doesn’t ‘get’ why on earth I’d choose to be home with the kids all day, every day. I don’t get why she’d put up with the double-duty of nurturing a career and child-rearing. That doesn’t mean that we don’t want the same things for out kids, or that we’re not both actively working to provide those things for our families in the best ways we know how.
So that’s my take. Real moms, be they work-for-pay or stay-at-home, send the kids to pre-school or homeschool through high-school, full-time or (is there really another option??), in sweats or Chanel – REAL MOMS don’t have time for mommy war crap.
*perhaps I should clarify what I mean by ‘community’ here… I mean the intentional community of mothers (and fathers) that I have surrounded myself with; the wonderful mothers in my local playgroups, mothering support groups and homeschool groups, in the internet community and forums that I frequent and social networking groups I belong to; those from all walks of life, old friends and new ones, who support each other when their paths are on similar tracks and when life circumstances change and they find themselves on other tracks (planned or unplanned); when our choices and decisions mesh and when they don’t; where we’re all respectful of one another even when we disagree. This is not a community build without purpose, nor without effort. It’s taken years of dedicated and sincere women working together to create this space and I am so thankful to be part of it. If you’re one of those moms, then I say with absolute sincerity, ‘Congratulations. You effin’ rock.’