Friday, August 2, 2013

Notes from the Mommy Wars

I recently read an interesting article about the Mommy Wars (see http://www.more.com/reinvention-money/careers/why-mommy-wars-rage-0) which made me think about my own experience.  As a woman who worked from home running my own business, I really didn't fit either category.  I had real flexibility and could show up to all my kids' school events and work on the PTA like stay at home moms; but I had many of the same hassles and responsibilities as working moms.  I didn't fit in either camp; I was an island, alone.

My worst experience with a working mom: the mother of one of my son's classmates cheerfully called to say her son was sick with vomiting and diarrhea and so couldn't go to school.  Did I want him to come over?  No I most certainly did not!  Why would I want to postpone my own work to care for someone else's sick child - a favor that would likely never be returned?  Especially, since I have two kids of my own who would likely get sick themselves if I allowed this other child into our home?  What could she have been thinking?

I think it is that kind of situation - clearly born of desperation - that fuels the Mommy Wars.  Of course I sympathize with this mom - she was a teacher and so had little flexibility in her schedule, a single mom, and of somewhat limited means - with the result that she didn't have a whole lot of options when she woke up and suddenly found herself with a desperately sick child.

I can't say that I can think of an analogous situation from the stay-at-home mom's side.  But I can imagine that the constant barrage of requests from my kids' schools to attend classroom events, to go on field trips, to volunteer for PTA activities - all of which take place during the day - must eventually rankle.

As I mull this over, it is worth thinking about a few other articles on the topic:

The Opt-Out Revolution
The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In

In the online comments to the latter, I thought some excellent points were made, specifically about how SAHM are ultimately treated, especially with regard to their expectations for retirement: "I have feelings about how American culture treats good mothers financially and socially. After thinking of about it I think shabby is the least offensive term."

Also, the statement in the article from the ex-husband who said, “I look back on it as the beginning of the end of our marriage. Once she started to work, she started to place more value in herself, and because she put more value in herself, she put herself in front of a lot of things — family, and ultimately, her marriage” and was called out in the comments, "She put more value in herself? She put herself in front of her family and her marriage? And that is a problem exactly why?"

And quite a few pointed out that despite the headline, the article noted "Not a single woman I spoke with said she wished that she could return to her old, pre-opting-out job--no matter what price she paid for her decision to stop working."

Here's another response to "Opting Out and Wanting Back In" http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/08/after-the-opt-out-revolution-asking-hows-that-working-for-you/?src=recg


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