Those Are Fighting Words.

by Bonnie Bell


"Why don't you just raise your own children."

 

Yes. I wrote that and then I attached it to a post about childcare in America on a popular pregnancy, baby, and parenting site. What followed was a chaotic inbox full of scathing emails questioning my intelligence, parenting aptitudes, and even my sex drive.


The original post was in response to a woman who had not yet had her baby and was seeking childcare options. I was not yet a mom and as we all know, everyone is a better mother before they have children. I set out to stand up for the mini-van stay at homes that I was certain I would join the ranks of upon becoming a mother. As the responses poured in ranging from bitter insults to play by play explanations of cooking blueberry pancakes every Saturday morning, I realized that I had done the equivalent of taking a baseball bat and striking a beehive. I hit a nerve in Working Mothers who are stretched to their limits to make everything in their lives dance around in seemingly effortless rhythm. I was so certain that I was right about being a Stay at Home Mom and that working mothers were missing everything about their child. I made angry remarks about children being something to check off of the to-do list and that they are equivalent to being fill-ins for the Holiday Christmas Card.


I want to re-emphasize that I said all of this before I actually had children.


Then the baby hunger pangs started. I wanted to frequent Janie and Jack and be invited into the back fitting rooms in Due Maternity. I needed to justify my trips to Pottery Barn Kids and my subscriptions to Baby Couture Magazine and Fit Pregnancy. And yes, I pictured the secret club of motherhood to be magical and enchanting and perfect. I would be the perfect mom.


As I waited for the arrival of my first daughter I determined that I would be a Stay at Home Mom and not just any Stay at Home Mom - I would be a Super Stay at Home. All beds would have hospital corners. I would sew all of our own clothes using organic wool from the sheep that I would raise in our back yard. I would buy an interest in a cow from a local dairy so that I could serve my children only unpasteurized milk. I would join the PTA and head up the Volunteering in my child's school. I would be Betty Crocker in the Kitchen, Martha Stewart in the Living Room, and The Perfect Mother in the eyes of my children.


Um...as you may have guessed (with or without help from my exaggerated foreshadowing), I have found motherhood to be quite different from how it was portrayed in the brochure. It is different for every woman. I can't believe I judged so harshly and without merit, the choices of other women. For any of the 3000 responders to my ridiculous attack on working mothers who are reading this, I am very sorry for making assumptions and judgments about your life and your parenting. Now that I have children, I have a deeper understanding of the need for flexibility.

jmvetter
10.02.08

Oh please... CowBoysWife... who is watching your children while you set up this elaborate blog???? And don't tell me that you work for hours after they are asleep. If that's the case, something is being neglected.

mmb3
09.16.08

Don't forget that not all working moms are just slicing our pies to create a lovely little life for ourselves. In America, many of us do not have options. I work full time--and don't get me wrong I enjoy my work most days--but I still can't make ends meet. There are only two slices in my pie--the work I do at home and the work I do at work.

InventingMatilda
08.30.08

I am Bonnie Bell and I wrote the original article. Here are a few more thoughts:
The Mommy War Debates:

WORKING MOTHERS
Working mothers are tuned out and missing everything.
Working mothers are just dumping their children on someone and leaving every day.
Working mothers are selfish.
Working mothers care more about money than their children.
Working mothers shouldn't bother having children because they just want to stick them into a Holiday photo. Insert kid here.
Working mothers just have kids to say that they did it.
Working mothers' expectations about lifestyle are too high and they could stay at home if they traded in their Lexis for a Honda.
Working mothers don't own any cuddle friendly clothing.
Get a smaller house and stop buying Starbucks twice a day. Having to work is debatable.
You shouldn't want to work. Your family should be more important to you.
Children of working mothers will have trouble bonding and building relationships of trust later in life.
Working moms could give their children so much more if they would just stay home.
Your children should be more important to you than some stupid job.
Your are totally expendable at work but irreplaceable at home and you are wasting time that you could spend with your children.
Don't have them if you won't raise them.
Your family should be most important to you.
You are never home.
You are ruining your children.
Working mothers are bad mothers.

STAY AT HOME MOTHERS
Stay at home mothers are lazy and unproductive.
Stay at home mothers are wasting time that they could be making progress in their careers.
Stay at home mothers aren't contributing to their family's finances.
Stay at home mothers aren't smart.
Stay at home mothers only want to talk about their children.
Stay at home mothers don't have what it takes to balance a job, a family, and a life.
Stay at home mothers are selfish and too lazy/uneducated/uninteresting to work.
Stay at home mothers are unkempt and rarely look nice.
The children of Stay at home mothers won't be as cultured, smart, and ambitious as those who come from dual income homes.
Stay at home mothers could give their children so much more if they would just work.
Children of stay at home mothers will see their mothers as lazy and wasteful.
You should want more from your life than oatmeal in your hair and two to four screaming children.
Why are you wasting your life?
What did you do all day?
You are always home. You never do anything.
You are ruining your children.
Stay at home mothers are bad mothers.

Did I get them all? Did I miss stereotypical opinions?

The reason why it stings when we hear comments and summations such as these is because they are all partially (just a little, teeny-tiny bit) true to some degree or another for every mother whether she is working or staying at home. There are days when working moms can't wait to get out of the driveway on Monday morning. There are days when stay at home mothers check out and do nothing with their children all day long. Things might be going along just swimmingly for you until you read some sort of remark and it lights your fuse because of your own guilt/anxiety/stress/boredom/fill-in-the-blank about your situation. Your first instinct is to write something based on your feelings right then. By going online and throwing punches at women who make motherhood their top priority in a different way than you do, you are simply writing that you are not completely confident about yourself, your mothering style, and that you feel you have to prove that you are a good mom. We all know there is a little truth in at least one of the stereotypical bashes on Working Moms and Stay at Home Moms otherwise no one would care.

Catalina88
08.08.08

I appreciate that the author realizes her gaffe although the cynic in me says she just wants to drive traffic to her web based business.

That said... if only life were as simple as a cherry pie! I would love to be a SAHM and often drive to work in tears.. but the financial reality is such that we rely on my paycheck. My salary is not paying for luxuries, it is paying for necessities. That's the case for many moms too. It's more like, sometimes you want that big slice of cherry pie but you have to eat a salad instead, and nobody gets the pie.

Tanyettasedit
08.08.08

In order not to offend anyone, just state what YOU'RE doing and what's working for YOUR family.

Judgements come in when we say things like, "we don't see how such and such can do such and such."

We all do what we have to do and what we feel are in the best interest of our families.

Let's ALWAYS keep in mind, What works for ONE family might NOT work for another. There are NO right or wrong ways. Whatever way YOU choose to take care of YOUR family is what matters. Let's ALWAYS keep that in mind.

Ding!

You're now free to move about the country!

2sweeties
08.06.08

Dear "Acowboyswife"- YOU are very lucky to live in an area where a family can live off of $1200 per month. Consider yourself very lucky, that would not even come close to paying the mortgage on my very humble house in the northeast. We all make choices and hopefully our choices are what is best for our individual families. I love my kids. I love working. BUT, I would kill to work less and be with my kids more & I hope someday this will be the case. Let's not judge eachother until we walk in eachother's shoes.

millerjess
08.06.08

You can be as "old fashioned" as you want, but the fact is, as many have already pointed out, many of us work because we HAVE to. There are no "extras"..its not an "excuse to work". Simply put, we have to work or we would have no house, no food. I don't understand why some people don't get that?

millerjess
08.06.08

I think it was big of her to apologize.

mommyshighheelshoes
08.06.08

"...can't believe I judged so harshly and without merit, the choices of other women....I am very sorry for making assumptions and judgments about your life and your parenting."- this quote from above sounded to me like she was saying she was wrong herself. Did I mis-interpreted the apology post?

I am by no means looking for an arguement. From what I gathered this web-site is a resource for all mothers in every different circumstance (whether you are an entrepreneur, work at an office, at home, wear boots, heels or flats) Many of my closest friends stay home and I love and admire them everyday. I feel lucky to have them in my life. So here is to staying positive in this world where there are so many different circumstances effecting our families and lives everyday. Some of us work by choice and some of us work by chance. Whatever happened to "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."???? We all work hard and wear/have worn/will wear so many different shoes in our roles as mothers.

http://www.mommyshighheelshoes.com

"Mommy's shoes are tricky to walk in. They wobble. They flip and flop. Sometimes they fall off!

ACowboysWife
08.06.08

@mommyshighheelshoes
This is my last comment in respect to mommydiva79's last sentence but I do want to be clear on something. I have been in your shoes for the record so don't you assume I haven't been. I also thought it was wrong for YOU to tell her thank you for apologizing for being WRONG...who says she was wrong...YOU?

I didn't think my comments were negative either, only stating my opinion since I have been on both sides of the track. BUT, I will apologize since I didn't know this website was for only working mothers, but wait! I am a working mother so I guess it's okay after all. My choice is to work out of my home so that I can be with my kids, tend to the house, and take off when I need to. I'd say my job is just as hard if not harder. Not only do I run my own business and tend to family, I also have to help maintain this ranch which is a helluva lot of work and I get NO benefits unless I see them myself. I have been in your shoes, boots, and high heels.