The only thing that makes me cringe more than the “mommy wars” is the mudslinging between adults who have children and those who do not. I’ll set that aside for another post.
Speaking an an auntie of 2 biological related children, 2 in-law children and multiple “extended” family/friend/kinship children – stop. Just stop.
This morning as I was listening to NPR and getting ready to head to an Equal Pay Day Rally for Women, I was struck at the gleeful like tone in the male commentators voice as he teased an upcoming segment on HilaryRosen’s statement about Ann Romney’s work history. Sigh. Really, Hilary?
Really, women? Really, men?
First of all, I simply think its ridiculous that women continue to get so unsettled by these types of comments (either direction – stay at home or working.) We allow ourselves to be pitted against one another in an endless, tiresome loop of superiority that only serves the interest of … men? Blame, finger-pointing, righteous indignation, sarcasm, condescension, and umbrage mask the fact that our society is pretty damn uncomfortable about trusting women to make good decisions.
That’s not to hard to believe. Elected officials around the nation are trying to undermine your self-determination when it comes to your reproductive health, your access to breast cancer screenings and PAP smears, your education, career, etc. You surely aren’t surprised that they might want to make your feel inferior when it comes to your parenting are you?
Setting aside personal opinions, there’s no clear “best” way to parent with regard to being a stay-at-home mom or a work-outside-of the home mom. Anyone – even someone like me who does not have children – can grasp that parenting is a lot of work, paid or unpaid. But our fundamental insecurity in our own decisions makes us susceptible to this political equivalent of a girl-on-girl mud fight. One comment from Hilary Rosen that was intended to remind us of socio-economic differences that make the experience of the working family unfamiliar to the Romney family — ends up feeding a girl-on-girl brawl that has male commentators salivating. Its like they literally think Michelle Obama is going to wrestle Ann Romney in a pit of jello. Sigh.
Second, with the dissolution of the Santorum campaign, the media needs to stir up some frenzy and this was well-timed (or ill-timed depending on your point of view.) But is it really news? No. I don’t care if Ann Romney works. She’s an incredibly wealthy woman and I have no indicator that she gets the realities of working class women. Period. It has nothing to with her work history and everything to do with her privilege. But Elsie Hillman is also a woman born into privilege and she has done amazing things for women. Just sayin.
There’s also the fact that Ann Romney has a chronic disease and does have insight into life with a disability, insight many of us cannot fathom. Yes, its always buffered by her privileges but to suggest she has nothing to contribute to connect with the voting public is ludicrous and demeaning.
This “mommy way” meme is never going away because it seems to really arouse men. They get to sit back and watch us tear each other apart over perceived slights and under the burden of our own discomfort for what it means to take ownership of our parenting.
Hilary Rosen is not the problem. Mommies everywhere just need to get a grip. Yes, I went there. Get a grip and stop letting them get under your skin. Don’t allow some pundit to undermine your confidence that you have made the best choices given your unique circumstances. Don’t allow the predominantly white straight male media to define your momminess. Or cause you to cast judgment on other mommies.
Listen to the aunties. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to parent. But there does seem to be a one-way-down path to the “mommy wars” and its time we put a stop to it. The next time you think someone is criticizing your choices, take a breath and think about the big picture. Its bad enough your in-laws and friends stick their noses into your parenting. Don’t let a salacious demeaning media attack trigger your insecurities and turn you against other women who are most likely struggling with the same doubts and concerns you experience.
Parenting is tough. Its definitely work. Keeping house is work. Paying the bills is work. Earning the income to do all of those things is work. Some people work harder than others. Some people work differently than others. But we’ve just got to stop letting men pit us against one another.
Significant stuff happened in the world this week, both within and beyond the campaign for the Presidency. Do you know any of that stuff? I’d much rather you spend your playground/daycare/lunchbreak/online forum time discussing “Bully” than rehashing the mommy wars.
I groan when I hear otherwise intelligent people spew this sort of stuff. Going after Ann Romney is just stupid from a political point of view and ugly from a human point of view. But we have choices when this happens. Calling Hilary to task is fine, but allowing NBC nightly news to shove a microphone into your face at your home while you parent-work is adding fuel to the fire.
Just stop. We need the mommies to focus on the common ground and support one another. Please.