I mean this sincerely. I wish I’d written this. In fact, I’d been doing a lot of thinking lately about this latest issue between whether Mitt Romney’s wife (who I know has a name, but I’m too lazy to switch tabs to find it) was really a “working” mom. Sigh…
Look, I’m going to tell you what I tell my middle school kids when they start in on each other. Life is hard enough, and you’ll have slings and arrows coming from many sides at different times in your life, but do you really need to make it harder by attacking each other?
Now before you decide my cup is half-full, and I’m just being (insert your own adjective here), let’s get things straight. First, I don’t wear moccasins so you can’t walk a mile in them, but my Keen’s are like combat boots, and I doubt you’d want to. Saying sticks, though. Walk your mile first.
I know about mommy wars first hand because I got so many questions about working when Keb was first born. I did return to teaching, and I was fortunate enough to have a half-time position. Trouble is, there really are no half-time day-care programs that look anything like a half-time teaching job. So we paid full-time for Keb’s care. Yes, it’s true, we lost money on my working. Yet, the beauty of it was the bond between my husband and son that came from it. The location of the day-care was across the street from where Taed worked. He honestly spent EVERY lunch hour with Keb. He took Keb to school, and I picked him up. If I’d been home, I wouldn’t have known what to do with me or Keb. I had no tribe, and I hadn’t made friends at Mommy-and-Me. Even then I was the enemy. At day care, Keb made friends, was socialized, and had a life. I couldn’t have done that for him. I know. Bad Mommy.
It only got worse when Keb got into school. I went on a play-date before school started to get acquainted. It was hot like hell, which is so unusual in Northern California you’d have to live here to relate. When very few people showed up, I questioned the heat and whether they were working. I got a chilly, “We don’t work. Do you?” It did feel accusatory, and maybe I was looking for a fight, ’cause I took offense. It set up bad feelings in me about the school for years. It’s just been in the last two years (and I needed Taed to help buffer it for me) that I’ve done something AT the school aside from the required. I’m an idiot, but you can see where the true loss lies.
Fact is, when we judge each other, the kids lose. Parents have to connect enough to want to let the kids hang out. Eventually Keb got a tribe, and I get on with the Moms. Most work or did. Some work part-time due to the economy. But what sucks is not realizing how much value these “stay-at-home” moms give to the school (because it’s Mom War, I’m only addressing them. I know the dads add value as well.) through their volunteering hours. They run intervention programs, recruit volunteers, head all the major cool stuff at the school, make sure science fair is set up, etc. Basically everything outside the classroom that makes school cool for the kids, expands their horizons, and helps make it a California Distinguished School comes from these “stay-at-home” moms.
In fact, once when I was talking about how I love to bake bread, a mom confessed she didn’t know how and didn’t “have the time”. She was sheepish about that because she confessed she shouldn’t say that to a “working” mom. However, I pointed out, she is working. She’s not PAID. She’s at the school a lot. Plus, I don’t bake bread on days I work. In fact, although I like making it, my family doesn’t like eating it, so I don’t make it very often. It really is for me. She visibly relaxed. She was waiting for the attack.
Let’s not do that, huh? Let’s just point out there are some advantages to being at home and some advantages to being at work. Let’s consider that the grass looks greener and most of this war is fueled by envy. Trust me, as a teacher, I have both. I’m a terrible stay-at-home housewife, homemaker, mother. It’s been spring break and we’ve eaten about 4 days out of 5? Maybe 5/5. I work because I’m not a great self-motivator! 🙂 However, I know people who excel at being home and making that their love. Many of them are my friends and family. Why would I hate them?
Now, you’d think I’d be asking you to lay down your arms, but I’m not. Instead, I want them firmly pointed at policy makers. If being a “stay-at-home” mom is work, then why can’t those women get social security? Oh, that’s right. They didn’t contribute. How do we fix that? Currently, they can collect their husband’s but… I’m all for choice, but what happens when these women are divorced or widowed? Oh yeah, GET A JOB. (sour face) So much for their job being so damned important, don’t you think? In fact, I think that will be the true sign of what society think of their “work”.
I think it’s time to honor those women who sacrificed the way they were expected to.