Yes, you read that right. I want to end the war ON the Mommy Wars. This media darling (some say invention) is back in the news again after Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen infamously stated that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had "never worked in a day in her life." Ann, the mother of five sons, was more than happy to defend mothering as work.
With that little exchange, the Mommy Wars was back in the headlines with many mommy bloggers doing their best Rodney King impressions and imploring us all to just. get. along. "End the Mommy Wars!" they plead. "Accept each other's choices!" they shout. "We have to stop fighting amongst ourselves!" they cry.
It all sounds so great. Of course, we should accept each other's choices (or realities since many women don't have a choice). However, the fact that the battle persists might be a sign of something amiss. Despite all our attempts at understanding and acceptance, women continue to judge and be judged for their decision to either stay home or go to work.
Is it because women are just as critical and bitchy as the worst gender stereotypes would have us believe? It seems that is what many in the media (and blogosphere) would have us believe. However, I don't think that's the issue. The issue isn't that we are women. The issues is that we are human beings. Human beings vulnerable to basic psychological impulses driven by insecurity and fear.
And I'm here to say there's nothing wrong with that.
Most of us are not 100% secure with our mothering choices. Those who stay at home wonder if they are sacrificing their livelihoods in the process. The economic impact of staying home is real and it's scary. Believe me, I know. Those who go to work wonder if they are missing out on important milestones and moments. And everyone feels guilty. If a mother (or father) tells you they don't wonder if the grass is greener on the other side occassionally, they are lying to you. And that's assuming you made a choice either way and weren't forced into your circumstances by economics or illness or God knows what.
So, add personal insecurity to a society which tremendously undervalues mothering to begin with and pour on a media environment that offers up an endless supply of commentary and opinions and it's not surprising things get heated. And I'm not saying we shouldn't try to accept each other or ourselves (or God forbid push politicans and corporations to make it easier for everyone to make a choice that works for them). I'm just saying let's also not beat ourselves up if we fall short of that standard.
If you work and sometimes get jealous of your friend's sunny Instagrams of park playdates, that's ok. If you stay at home and you occassionally hate your working friend's gorgeous work wardrobe and (adult) conversation skills, that's fine, too. Even if you share those thoughts with your husband or girlfriends or even the Internet, that doesn't mean you are a bad person. And it sure as heck doesn't make you a bad mother.
Feeling that way doesn't make you a soldier in any kind of war. It just makes you human.
~ Sarah Stewart Holland