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.

mommyshighheelshoes
08.06.08

It takes a big person to apologize when they are wrong, especially when judging others. Isn't it wonderful how having children helps us all to grow up and become less self centered. It's sad that some women feel the need to judge others especially when they have not walked in that other woman's shoes? MommyDiva2- I loved your post and comment: "Women with careers should not be slighted as "gotta hav-it-all" hell on heels types of women. On the same token, SAHMs should not be reduced to cookie-baking, diaper changing housewives."

All Moms wear so many different shoes each day....let's support eachother as mothers.

ACowboysWife- glad your happy, but until you walk in every working woman's shoes....please keep the negative comments to yourself. It concerns me that you feel the need to post comments like yours on a website designed to help & support working mothers.

As far as crime and violence- there are so many things in this world that have have changed since "back then" (i.e.- tv, economics, education, etc.)

http://www.mommyshighheelshoes.com

mommydiva79
08.05.08

You know, ladies...we can go back and forth about this all day. The bottom line is that NO ONE is in a position to judge a SAHM or a working mother, ever. We are all out here, doing what we can to provide for our families and be complete women in the process. I am a woman that comes from a proud and very strong group of women who all worked outside of the home. My career fulfills me in a way that is very unique, just as my husband fulfills me in a unique way, my child fulfills me in a unique way, etc. Women with careers should not be slighted as "gotta hav-it-all" hell on heels types of women. On the same token, SAHMs should not be reduced to cookie-baking, diaper changing housewives.

ACowboysWife, I respect your opinion, but you knew what you were doing when you commented on this board to begin with. You knew a majority of the posters here work outside the home and what you should recognize is that we do not need a lecture. We understand quite well the sacrifices we are making to provide an income. And as you don't believe "for one bit" that every wporking mother is merely in it for a paycheck (I don't either, by the way), I don't believe that the dawn to working mothers has lead to children having problems. Statistics are merely a smattering of what's really going on in the world, just like those that dictate that children with working mothers are more independant and responsible (and that stat does exist).

In conclusion to everyone, let's just keep doing what we do to make our families function and stop spreading the hate amongst each other.

emom
08.05.08

i couldn't agree with you more. Some of us have a choice. Like you, I didn't either. I married a wonderful man whose noble job doesn't have a noble salary to go with it. Not right or wrong, it just is and you deal with the cards as you get them. Congrats on illuminating that point. http://www.sherpamomlive.blogspot.com

emom
08.05.08

As women, we do such an unbelievable job at encouraging another and tearing one another down. Kudos for deciding that you don't own a corner on motherhood. Neither do i. Focusing on what binds us together could bring such affirmation in an already tough job, motherhood. Joyeous but tough. http://www.sherpamomlive.blogspot.com

ACowboysWife
08.05.08

I never said that you didn't love your kids as much as stay at home moms by any means. And if you read my second article on (the response to a woman's place) then you'll know that my mother had to work her butt off. She was single, working 2 jobs, and getting beaten daily to boot.

I merely saying that if there were more mothers who stayed home to raise the kids (like back in the old days) I believe there wouldn't be so much violence and problems with kids like there are today.

There are actually statistics that show when women started working (back then), that's where problems started happening more and more with children.

Again, there are always exceptions...I know from experience and I'm not judging any mother who does work. I just think a little different than the modern mother.

aldan
08.05.08

I have never understood the debate about wether or not to work after you have kids. Most of us who work do it because we have to. After I had my first child, I didn't have a choice about working. And no, I don't work to give my family "extras" (there is no fancy car in my driveway). My husband has a job that he loves, but it does not pay great and provides no benefits. Without my job my family would have no health insurance and my husband and I would have no retirement plan. Providing health insurance for my family is very important to me. What kind of mother would I be if I stayed home and my family went without insurance? A lousy one.

Most of the mom's I know in the workplace would quit in heartbeat if they could afford it. For those of you, like ACowboysWife, who think that a woman should stay home and raise her kids, you don't know how lucky you are. Those of us who have to go to work every day, know that our checks are helping pay the mortgage making sure our kids can go to the doctor. It would be nice if stay-at-home moms understood that we love our kids just as much as they love theirs and we're just doing our best to keep them safe and secure.

ACowboysWife
08.05.08

Obviously there will be exceptions. That should be common sense. The problem is that when women (or men) write these types of opinionated articles, other people assume that there aren't any exceptions.

LilMisBusy
08.05.08

My only gripe is with this line:

"others deem working hard at building a career as a great way to contribute to their children's slices by providing life's little extras for them."

I wish I was just working for the "little extras." Instead, I'm working for the wonderful health insurance that my company provides, not to mention the salary that helps pay my mortgage and put food on the table. No doubt, there are extras too, but right now, with two children in fulltime daycare, they are few and far between. Beyond that, women work not just to buy extras for their children but for their own personal fulfillment too! A good article, but I'm definitely getting tired of having to point these things out.

crazymama2
08.05.08

I too was a perfect hypothetical parent. Loved this article!

My only beef with the article - as well as the subsequent comments - is that it assumes that all women have the CHOICE of whether or not to work. Sorry ladies - some of us don't. And it's not always a matter of cutting back on lifestyle or clipping coupons. What about single moms? Or families where the dad cannot work because of a disability? Or families where the mom makes more than the dad, but the dad isn't enlightened enough to stay at home? Or families where the dad decides to pursue his dream of going back to grad school, or becoming a Renaissance model maker, or something?

bloggingmom67
08.05.08

Got to give you credit for apologizing. I think that's courageous. Motherhood is much simpler before you actually do it. I think every family has to do what works for them. http://blog.syracuse.com/family/2008/08/

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