A detente to the Mommy Wars

Thanks for all of your comments, everyone.

I just wanted to clarify the main point of my rant post.  It wasn’t to demonize the stay-at-home mama, or the choices she’s made to have a domestic life.  Many of my friends and family members are such mamas, and I’m not out to make them feel bad about their choices (though my snarkiness may have had that effect — sorry, y’all).

My main issue is the dominant presumption that the  better choice for moms is to stay at home, full-time, with your kids.  Note that I said better choice, and not best.

These days it seems like discussions around this issue are becoming more realistic, and people are realizing that both parents working is the economic reality of most family situations.  That said, while there may be the acknowledgment of the pragmatism of the working mom, I resent the implicit longing for the better option (should finances allow) of her being able to stay at home with her kids.

I think both types of mamas present different opportunities for their kids.  As outlined in many of the comments, there are many benefits given to children who are raised with a full-time parent.  Likewise, there are other advantages given to those kids whose parents work.  It’s not a case of which is better, but a case of which is right for which family.

In my earlier post, when I said all those statements about teaching Emma to be self-reliant and such, I wasn’t trying to justify my reasons working outside the home — I was hoping to make the point of how hurtful it can be to take the sanctimonious side of issues.   My goal was to call attention to the fact that when it comes to the working mama vs. stay at home mama debate, I don’t hear a lot of sanctimony being said on the working mama’s side of things.

That said, I know this is still a hard issue and one with strong feelings on either side.  Here’s hoping the dialogue can continue, and in the end, we mamas are more allies than foes.

5 thoughts on “A detente to the Mommy Wars”

  1. I wonder if the whole working/stay-at-home mom debate is the big banner issue for all of the other divisions among mothers. After almost 8 years of parenting I feel like I’m finally having some confidence in what I’m doing. Not that I didn’t have confidence before — I did, and often in the stupidest choices. 🙂 For a long time (and still sometimes, with some people) I try to mold my parenting style to fit a bit more of the other mom I may be with at the time. I’m getting much better at this. But it’s hard when you’re sitting there at the supper table giving your kids juice to drink and you hear “my children only drink milk and water”.

    There are endless things that can divide us as moms: playing with your children “too” much and not fostering enough independence in them or NOT spending enough time with them, when to give up the bottle, or time-outs and spankings, and on and on. But like I said in my post (or my comment on my post), just because a choice is made doesn’t mean that the mom thinks it’s the ONLY right choice. Some moms do see their (and others’) actions in that way, but I don’t think that’s right or helpful in any way. I think loving and supporting our fellow moms in their decisions is much better than alienating them because they’re making the “wrong” decisions. Because, really, we’re all continually making wrong parental decisions! 🙂

    Thanks for the continued discussion!

    Oh, and maybe I should add that my post was really just about that one line and not the whole scene. Because my stomach really did turn when I thought of that girl not going to law school just so she could get supper on the table for her husband! 🙂

  2. Dixie, I don’t know you, but take comfort in this: if I were a parent and you sat beside me, you’d probably hear me saying something like, “My kids only drink 100 year old whiskey!” (Becky, will you still let me hand around Emma?)

    I think that individuals all have different needs and that both Mom’s and Dad’s need time away in order to be the well rounded loving people that kids need. Maybe “away” is every day at work, maybe away is a weekend away. I think we forget parents are people too and in order to teach kids how to be “people” the first step is showing that different people need different things! Now, off to the vodka fountain! 🙂

  3. I’m only on the verge of beginning my journey/adventure as a mother, and already I am noticing this division you write about. It’s sad, really, when you realize that we are all really working at the same goal- doing our best to raise kids in the way that we think is correct. And, Dixie, yes, I am learning from my favorite mama friends, that you/I will make a LOT of mistakes. I think it’s time to omit the ‘VS.’ from the discussion and replace it with a big old ‘AND.’ Parenting is not a religion, so there is no reason to try to convert another mom or dad to ‘your’ way(again, the non-specific “you.”). I am glad to be reading all of this- it’s helping me to prepare for my new job as a mom, as well as learning that no one has to agree with me in order to make my decisions valid.

  4. What a great discussion thread! Grrrl has some well-spoken readers.

    I’m a working mom, and on this topic my common tag-line is that sometimes, I feel guilty for not feeling guilty (about working). There are certainly a lot of mamas out there who work because they have to to make ends meet, in jobs they may not like. But there are also lots of mamas (like me) who like their job, and choose to work, and don’t spend a lot of time doing post-facto rationalization about. Like the original post said, there are pros and cons to both working and staying at home. Could I be a better scientist if I didn’t have kids ot rush home to? Maybe, although I’m not sure I’d even really want to be. Could a be a better mom if I didn’t have failed experiments on the brain sometimes? Maybe, although I’m not convinced that I’d be a very good stay-at-home mom, either. Like Grrrl, we have a great support network of foiks who partner with us in raising our two girls, 3 and 6 mos, and I think they have benefited from the diversity it has brought to their lives (except the parts that involve too-early familiarity with Hannah Montana) and the extended family of loving adults who care for them. More importantly (for us), a two-working parent household results in a true partnership in child-rearing, one that I imagine is hard to achieve when the kids spend 90% of their waking hours with one parent (at least I don’t see it much in my friends where one parent stays at home; there tends to be an alpha-omega parent dynamic). That partnership in marriage and life is what I hope to model for my girls, regardless of where their life paths lead.

    ps- my kid drinks water and milk, but we taught her to identify beer labels so she could take requests from the fridge, and she can operate the bottle-opener, too. I think that makes it a wash. The corkscrew is the next lesson…

  5. “Here’s hoping the dialogue can continue, and in the end, we mamas are more allies than foes.”

    This. So very much, this.

    My life’s been a strange mish-mash of stay-at-home mama-hood, working from the home, working part time outside the home, and (currently) going to school. For different reasons at different times.

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