The Mommy “Wars”
I just got done reading The Mommy Wars by Leslie Morgan Steiner. Normally, these books are like brussels sprouts to me – don’t like them, don’t want them, keep them as far away from me as possible. This is surprising to many of my friends and co-workers, but I have my reasons. I happen to live in a community where I rarely feel like there are any conflicts between stay-at-home-moms and “working” moms. In our town, we have women who used to have careers outside of the house and now don’t. We have women returning to the workforce after taking time to stay home with their kids. It’s a little of everything, and I rarely feel any judgements. OK, that’s not to say when a parent shows up 30 minutes late to pick up their kid from a birthday party that there isn’t a bit of buzz. But that’s about it.
I’ve faced the whole “you work?” battle much more at work than anywhere else, and surprise, more from men than from women. Here’s a great example – some time ago, a memo went around that a woman was leaving her job to be a “full-time mom.” I was taken aback by that. Was the implication that those of us who worked were “part-time moms”? Because I have a c-section scar that brands me as a mom 24/7. Was this person, a male person I might add, implying that I was less of a mom because I was pursuing a career? I whipped the note back at him with these comments and more sprinkled around it. He replied that he didn’t write the note, his boss did, and he couldn’t care less about what choices women were making these days. Fair enough. So I sent it to his boss and asked him what was behind his choice of words. In truth, I should have let it go there, but no, I persisted. The boss never responded, and when I asked him in person, I was told to give him a break, and that’s exactly what she was doing. He stopped short of suggesting that my bare feet retreat back into the kitchen, but that’s what it felt like.
Anyhow, why did I read this book? It was a gift from a friend who thought it was “right up my alley,” so I felt obligated to at least crack the binding. This friend reads this blog sporadically, so I don’t want to come out and say, “Wrong way alley, babe.” But I’m a lot more interested in double teaming on Eric Clapton and Pattie Boyd’s dueling tomes than I am reading a “I’m right because I stay home with my kids” vs. “I’m right because I am a good career role model for my kids.” Let’s face it, the majority of our kids are doing all right, and by our I mean both SAHM and working moms’ kids. This book did have a little of I’m right, no I’m right, so that bothered me. At the same time, it did present almost every viewpoint that was out there, so in the end I felt that it made me more sympathetic to ALL moms. Something happens when you become a parent that changes you forever. We know that the decisions we make will impact our children for better or for worse, so we struggle with them. We have only to look at our kids and find a single fault to be ready to place the blame on a decision that we made. Worse, at times others find those faults in our kids and blame us and our decisions. But the truth is stuff happens, and it’s not always something that can be blamed on the fact that mom had a job and wasn’t home to make cookies. Or vice versa. By calling this book “Wars”, the author implies that there are sides to be taken. When in reality there is one side, and that’s for our kids and what’s best for them.
Overall though, I was disappointed that a woman had to dredge up the whole “mommy wars” angle. The book was an OK read, but do we need yet another book in the media drawing a divide where there really shouldn’t be one? In the end, we are a lot more supportive of each other than the media gives us credit for. And that’s what the story should be.