If you're not a parent, you still may have heard of this. It's the idea that stay-at-home moms and job-holding moms are constantly at odds with each other and disagree about which way is the better way to parent.
Full disclosure- I've been both a SAHM and a job-holding mom; now I'm a job-holder again. (I refuse to say "working mom" because, trust me, all moms work and work damn hard, whether they get a paycheck or not.) So I've seen both sides.
Very rarely did anyone ever criticize my decision to stay home or to hold a job directly to my face. Essentially, I believe, most folks know it's none of their business how I raise my kids or support my family, and whether or not they agree with my choice, they respect the fact that it's my decision.
The few, let me stress the word few, moms I've known who made anything of this whole Mommy War thing seemed to be the ones who weren't comfortable with their decision. The ones vehemently defending their choice to work often wished they could stay home more, and the ones loudly defending their domestic status wished they could wear big-girl shoes once in a while and get paid again. Mostly, however, the moms I've known here in Central NJ are pretty happy with the decisions they've made and don't talk much about it. We talk about how much we need an extra two hours in every day.
So, who's making a big deal of this issue as a war, if it's not the moms?
Media. Because it sells.
There was a book that came out a while back called Mommy Wars, essays from moms on their choices. It got lots of press and lots of attention. I just found out reading Ellen Goodman's column Getting Over the Mommy Wars that the title was changed:
On the literary front, Leslie Morgan Steiner's collection of testimonials, a fine-tuned orchestra of ambivalence, was originally going to be named ''Ending the Mommy Wars." But it came out of the publishing house packaged as ''Mommy Wars."
Surprize surprize. Make it more controversial so it'll sell more. I haven't read it, but I wonder if there are any essays in it from moms who don't get a choice- single parents who are the sole source of income, for example?
The title of Goodman's column says it all- get over it. We're pushed into thinking this is a big fight we're having between ourselves, but it's not. It's a personal decision to be a SAHM or a job-holder- and we should feel damn lucky if we get to make a choice- and we don't need pressure to look down on other women who went the opposite way than ourselves.
Happy Mother's Day.