Open the paper, click on a newsite, turn on a tv or radio, and today’s terrible economic news dominates. As it should, I guess. We are all feeling the financial crush. But as usual, there IS a silver lining: we are all dissecting “the mommy wars” yet again – battles that have little do to with working v. stay-at-home moms and everything to do with how our society views women’s roles.
Could it be that today’s troubles are remaking American families and gender responsibilities, especially with the news that 82% of the 2.5 million jobs lost since October have been jobs held by men? Our societal transformation remains to be seen. But at least we are talking about the real issues, and talk IS good, especially from the following smarties:
Mommy Trackd’s own Amy Keroes said in USA Today’s “Women step up as men lose jobs ”
"How interesting that four months of a terrible economy could in a way prove to have more impact than four decades of feminism," says Amy Keroes, founder of mommytrackd.com, a networking site for working mothers. "Women who are primary breadwinners say they're proud to be that, but at the same time there's also a longing to be home…The economy has simply taken choices away from people."
Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober, authors of Getting to 50/50 , told The Today Show  that “families thrive not in spite of working mothers, but because of them.” Yo, Joanna and Sharon! Could it be that working moms emerge as heroes in this lousy economy?
In last Friday’s Domestic Disturbances blog on the New York Times  site, Judy Warner was brilliant, as usual. And hundreds of rabid, rampant poster comments brought back my good old days on washingtonpost.com’s On Balance , except that I do seriously wonder why these yummy mummies were on their computers in the middle of the night.
“I have zero respect for women who chose voluntarily to give up careers to be their husbands’ housekeepers. If they aren’t bored stiff, they clearly have a lack of intellectual aptitude - which is perhaps why hubby selected them in the first place.”
– Marguerite, 1:36 AM
“I was forced out of the workplace due to inflexible circumstances and having small children was unable to find affordable proper care for them, so I had no choice but to stay home. I tried to get back to work, but have been faced with questions of why I’ve been at home for so long, and what have I been doing with myself all this time…as if raising my kids was just a big long snooze fest all these years! I’d like to see the men interviewing me, deal with sleep deprivation, getting by on minimum, and try to mold and develop and nurture kids under five years old for a few years!”
– Mom! 2:21 AM
My newest hero is a young mom quoted along with Keroes in USA Today:
"Times are a-changing, and you got to roll with the times," says Christina Fekas-Gorman, 34, of San Diego, a secretary in the county offices who recycles cans for cash to cover staples such as diapers for 2-year-old Zoe.
Husband Sean was laid off from a pool repair company a year ago and quickly sank into depression. The couple fought a lot, and he moved out.
"I felt like, 'I cook, I clean, I shop, and now I'm the only one with a job?' " she says. "That got physically and mentally draining real fast. He apologized and came back home."
So, let’s keep looking for the Cadillac Coupe De Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box . Part of what is so difficult about the past 40 years of advances for women is that women at the highest household income and education levels — those women in the best position to advocate for change for less fortunate women — have been sidelined by lack of family friendly corporate policies, including easy on and off ramping, as well as uber-ambitious husbands who can’t fathom staying home with a sick child for a day. Maybe indeed this recession could benefit women's march toward social equality.
We are all in this together, as a society. Gender pay equity, the ability to onramp and offramp without great penalty, family flexible policies at work and 50/50 husbands at home help ALL men, women, and most importantly children. Let’s hope our tough times bring us together to make work/life balance a reality for everyone.