Secret Live of Soccer Mom, Revisited.

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Whoa Nelly! Who would’ve thought that a tiny, little reality show on TLC would stir up so much angst?

 

Last week I wrote about my impressions of the premiere episode of “The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom,” the reality program where an at-home mom is given a week to resume working in her chosen career. At the end of that week, she’s offered a full-time job and has to make a decision: Pass on the offer or take it and return to work. While my chief complaint was with the cruelly manipulative twist of giving a family only a small window of time to make a life-changing decision, I had a mostly positive response to the show. I loved seeing a woman who’s been out of the marketplace for a while beam with pride when she realizes that she’s still got it goin’ on at work.

 

Thus far, two episodes into the season, a mom of three has decided to take a job as a fashion designer and a mom of two has decided to decline an offer to be a chef in an upscale restaurant saying she’ll have to defer her dream a bit longer because she thinks her children are still too young for her to work full-time. So far, it has been fair.

 

However if you take a look at some of the rhetoric zipping around the internet, you’d have thought that “The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom” had declared all-out war on at-home parenthood or said that working full-time is the only legitimate choice for mothers of small children. While last week’s Mommy Track’d essay mentioned how, after the premiere episode, TLC’s bulletin boards were active with heated vitriol from women calling the show “disgusting,” in the past week the online dispute between working moms and at-home moms has only intensified. Here’s just a snippet – a snippet mind you -- of the postings on the TLC “Secret Life” bulletin board following the airing of the second program:

 

“I am a 4th generation working mom. And whatever CHOICE my daughter, who's 18 and college-bound, makes, I will stand behind her 1000%. Who made YOU to look down your nose at those of us who either choose or have to work? Honey, you seriously need to get a life outside of your kids. Maybe then, you'll understand the reality of today. . . I don't sponge off my husband and I have taught my daughter that independence is absolutely NECESSARY. Perhaps if you bothered to REALLY come down off that pedestal you're put yourself up on and see the REAL WORLD, you might just learn something.”

 

MamaKaren
04.10.08

Wow. I have not seen the show, but am saddened that so many people (on both sides!) who are watching it are reacting so narrow-mindedly. I work outside of the home, and it's a delicate balance. Many of my friends do not work outside the home (I refuse to use the term "stay at home mom" because these friends of mine barely get to be at home for any length of time between the school volunteering, grocery shopping, dog walking, etc., etc.) and their lives are delicate balances as well.

I think that one key aspect that is overlooked in the whole debate about whether children should be overseen by a parent when not in school is this- why does that 'at home' parent have to be Mommy? Last time I looked, a baby comes from two parents. Yes, there are many single parent households in our society, but those are the ones who get a pass from the critics, since Mom *has to* work. As women become more educated and pursue higher level careers, it's entirely possible that the woman, not the man, is the primary breadwinner. Yet very few people assume that a man will leave the workplace and put his career on hold once children come along. On the contrary, men are still fighting for respect when they do make job-related sacrifices for the sake of their families. We've still got a long, long way to go.

thebiscuit
04.02.08

I am new here and now that I am back at work I finally have time to get on the internet. I was going to avoid this too but I just can't. Personally, I am not into reality TV so I only saw bits and pieces of one episode (the cop one). It seems that all reality TV is about these days is watching people fail, tear each other apart or be deceitful and greedy. Can anyone tell me of a reality show that is just for fun? Hence why it is now time for women to rip each other apart for choosing a lifestyle. The thing is, you don't know these women, you don't know what they do, where they live or anything about them except what you see on EDITED television. No one can judge someone they do not know anything about. Not only that but seriously, do we not have enough to do we have to be in everyone else's business? Do whatever you like, it's your life and as long as you're not breaking the law who cares? The thing that I think has gone by unmentioned is school. I can't go to work and send my child to daycare but when his 5th Birthday gets here it's perfectly fine for me to ship him off to a bunch of strangers then and keep him there until he's 18? And for Pete's sake, do not say I should home school my children as well as not send them to daycare. Some of these people leave comments and lead me to believe they'd like their children to live in their basement until they die. They'll be lucky if they can take a normal trip to the mall without having an anxiety attack. I know babies need thier mommies and thier daddies (and personally, Daddy doesn't get ripped enough, just Mommy it seems), but in reality, kids have been going to daycare forever and women have had to go to work, forever. It's okay, the kid is going to be okay.

freuten
03.28.08

Phew! Between work, home, getting to the gym, Church, the PTA and now the Boy Scouts I don't have enough energy to get worked up about much of anything.
Stay at home or working mom - we're all working out butts off and we need to support and nurture each other.
So way to go sisters! Keep your chins up and know you're doing the best you possibly can!

AmyF
03.27.08

You know. I avoided this show for this very reason. I don't believe this issue is as hot as it is portrayed in the media. I'm a working mom and I get worked up if somebody criticizes working moms, but it just doesn't happen as much as we are led to believe by news stories and tv shows. Yes, it does happen, but I think arguing about it just perpetuates it because it is hard to defend your own decision without offending those who chose otherwise. I work from home. Sometimes I work outside of the home for my old company. My kids go to school or daycare. Sometimes I get hired as a doula by couples who are about to have a baby, so I sometimes work in the middle of the night (the babies always come in the middle of the night).

The real issue is that it is really amazing how many different things women do now. I think that show should change to focus on the many different careers that women can do (whether they are moms or not).

Amy
Working Mom to 3, Runner, Doula, Chocoholic
www.sofiabean.com

queenbee88
03.26.08

I have been on both sides of this issue and have watched a few episodes of the show and read the Newsweek articles. It saddens me that we women still love to berate each others choices so much. While I found the show lacking in the reality that ensues after the mother chooses to go back to work I did love how they were given that choice and we have seen both sides.

I'm pained, disturbed really at the hatred out there that women are exposing. I wrote my own piece about it here- http://themummychronicles.blogspot.com/2008/03/ladies-please-enough-is-e...

debbiestickel
03.26.08

I have always said that people that put down the "other side" are insecure in their decision. I will defend being a working mom forever, but I will never put down a stay at home mom for her decision...I'm comfortable that I'm doing what's right for my family and myself.

http://happyworkingmom.blogspot.com/

mom2cne
03.26.08

The thing that none of these message board posters seem to remember is that no on is forcing these women to be on this show. They are signing up because the WANT to. Whether they want to get back in the work force full time and want the opportunity or thye just want a taste of what being a full time employee with kids is like, they picked to be on this show.

Amy3
03.25.08

It's so sad! All moms need as much support as they can get, especially from each other for goodness sake. We each have very different circumstances and we can't know what factors go into another moms decision (or need to) work or stay home. No judging is the best policy.
I have a lot of stay home mom readers of my blog and they are always interested in posts about being a working mom, out of curiousity, or sometimes because their kids are getting older and they are thinking of going back to work. It would be really unfair to assume I'm a bad mom because I work.
Gosh everyone needs to lighten up! It's an important issue but the reasonable thing is to assume that everyone is making the best decisions they can, acting in good faith and being responsible parents.

SadiesMom
03.20.08

I sent the article to my mother-in-law who spent her child-raising years working as a French teacher. She was infuriated by the comments of stay-at-home moms who think that's the only way it should be. She sent me a huge email about how every woman can choose whether or not she wants to work, and how those women who judge each other so harshly don't help anyone. This touches a nerve whether you are 25 or 55. And that nerve is pretty raw.

scrappinmom
03.20.08

To be honest, this is just one more example to me that the only mommy war I care about is the one inside my head. I had the same reaction to this show as I do to most mommy war-type issues - internal conflict. As the new mom of a 5-month old - and a dedicated career woman who also happens to need to work - I have no idea what's right for me. So how could I even guess - much less assume - what's right for anyone else?!