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.”
“I am disgusted by this show and I am very disappointed in TLC . . . I worked in day care for six years and I watched parents leave their children from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. so that they could fulfill their ‘dreams’ and ‘careers.’ They would then spend one hour with them and then send them to bed because they were so tired from working. It is disgusting. These children knew their teachers better than they knew their parents. If they wanted so badly to be ‘known for their career’ then they should not have had children. Women who stay home with their children should be rewarded. It is a blessing to watch your child grow up. . . This show is making women second guess their decision to raise their children themselves and put their children FIRST. Something we rarely see anymore.”
“I think any of the negative comments concerning [the fashion designer’s] choice to chase her dream are disgusting!! Maybe you are all jealous she has the chance to achieve something outside of the home while you are doing the same ol' mundane housework! She is NOT abandoning her children, daycare is not abandonment. It is actually good for them because it teaches them how to interact with other human beings. If your children just stay at home with you then they have no outside stimulation and will always be dependent on you.”
“My heart breaks for those beautiful precious children who will no longer be nurtured by their mother for most of the day. I was a daycare kid and I wasn't abused or neglected but my favorite time of the day was when I would hear my mom's keys jingling down the hallway as she arrived to sign my sister and me out. There is no substitute for a mother I don't care how lovely the daycare worker is. There are so many years before you have children or after they are grown to bask in your own desires. I'm sure my daughter will be happier to know I gave up an executive position to raise her rather than having the nicest house or the coolest clothes.”
Surveying the anger seething on the internet, Susanna Schrobsdorff observed on Newsweek’s web site  that this program has “struck one of the rawest nerves of parenting.” When Manic Mommy podcaster Kristin Brandt  waded through the commentary, she was stunned by its harshness. In a blog posting entitled, “These Women are Crazy,” she wrote: “There are a lot of fired up mommies on those [TLC] forums, both stay-at-home and working. It’s like witnessing an electronic catfight, and it is not pretty.”
She ain’t kiddin’. Does this mean the “mommy wars ” -- that odious term I’d hoped was dead and buried -- is actually alive and well and thriving on the internet? Do women still want to tear one another down because of their employment choices instead of just accepting one another’s decisions and going on with their own lives? Alas, the mommy wars (*big sigh*) are not over, they just occasionally fall dormant, flaring up from time to time. Meanwhile, I will continue to wave a white flag. You guys fight all you want, but I’m
Check out the Mommy Track'd interview with Soccer Mom's host, Tracey Gold .