I absolutely detest the media created “Mommy Wars” that allegedly exist between the women who care for kids full-time or work full-time. Women, who are already stressed out and doing the best they can to make the best choices they can for their families, don’t need any more wars. It’s all a total load. As I’ve suspected ever since I entered the complicated fray we call parenthood.
Because, if you have kids, whether you work inside the home, outside the home, part-time, full-time, for pay, not for pay, you still work. And you are still awesome. Moms are awesome. Period. That’s it. If you are a mom, and you are not violent or hostile, you are awesome. And while we’re at it, dads are awesome too.
This is why I nearly had a temper tantrum in a recent PTA meeting. Because a woman said, “I can’t volunteer for that [thingamajig in question] because I work.”
What the eff is this? 1983? Are we still dwelling on whatever wave of feminism it was that gave us Mr. Mom and the novelty of the “working mother?” Because moms who care for kids all day don’t count as “working mothers?”
I totally went off on this poor woman, who just made an off the cuff comment, about how we all work. Every damn parent in the room works in one way or another. And what was even more insulting about her comment was that she somehow didn’t know that I actually have a paid job, since I work from home.
I went on to rant and rave about how I work twenty hours a week for pay with only 7 hours of childcare (including drive time) for my very busy toddler, plus I have another part-time job editing a beautiful literary magazine, plus I’m allegedly writing a novel. Something I never actually get to in all of my luxurious free time.
The poor woman got an earful. And the biggest dis was the fact she assumed I didn’t work for pay and thus didn’t “work.” If I am indeed a full-time caregiving parent, I therefore must have oodles of time on my hands to do some volunteer job that is picked over by those who toil away in offices all day. And anyone who is a full-time stay-at-home parent knows damn well that kid-care-providers have less free time on their hands than most humans on the planet. (And if you didn’t do it you would pay someone an assload to do it for you.)
People who go to offices get lunch breaks and coffee breaks. And if they’re lucky, they can sneak onto Facebook or YouTube in their cubicles. People who care for little kids all day are lucky if the kid naps.
My little freak out was finally quelled by a beautiful woman who interrupted to say, “Okay, let’s all agree that no matter where you answer your phone from during the day, everyone is busy.” Thank you!
But I still felt pissed off and insulted and resentful. And I need to come up with some pat response that can cut people off in the future when they pull that garbage with me. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to engage in some fake Mommy War.
I don’t buy into the so-called war for one second. I know that parents’ lives are much too complicated to be sorted into tidy little home/work teams where we all take sides and duke it out on some third rate talk show. But I’m still not going to let someone pull rank with the “I work,” excuse.
Because I work too, dammit. We all do.
--Robin Dutton-Cookston is senior of Mamazina and lots of other good stuff too. Learn about her book at The Foggiest Idea.