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Toni Nagy

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Mommy War Madness

Posted: 04/17/2012 1:30 pm

Being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom is often tied to issues of feminism, and women judge each other harshly according to which path you take. Working mommies will accuse the stay-at-homes that they have lost their identity and are supporting a patriarchal and archaic system of females being slaves to the family. Stay-at-homes will allege that working mommies don't have enough time for their families and are prioritizing their own ego through their career over their child's needs. Women attacking women about how they choose to parent has a certain irony, considering no matter what your approach, your kid is going to grow up and blame you for their problems, regardless.

Let me paint scenario A. You are a stay-at-home mom who co-sleeps in a family bed with organic hemp sheets, breastfeeds even if it is an awkward moment where some guy is winking at you from across the restaurant and holds your child in a carrier until they go to college. You were sensitive to their needs, never used aggressive tones, honored their individuality, felted homemade toys out of yack yarn, didn't infringe on their childhood imagination, sent them to Waldorf schools and allowed them to eat bark. But then your kid graduates from Sarah Lawrence and tells you that you never taught them how to be independent; that you coddled them and didn't prepare them for the real world. And because you never let them eat candy or watch TV, they decide to pursue a career in marketing and eat only GMO foods.

Scenario B. You work hard to try and make money to provide your child with everything they need. You have a work ethic and want that example to inspire your child to understand the value of commitment and pursuing a realistic career. You instill in them the understanding of how to prioritize their financial needs and achieve their goals through diligence and practical decisions. They graduate from Harvard Law and come home to say you never let them understand who they really were; that your expectations always overshadowed their own personal artistic passion. That they feel stifled by your over-ambitious ways and want to pursue their true joy of hula-hooping and creating a performance art piece that involves 45,000 matches, dried glue flakes and a rat skeleton.

You can be the most sacrificing altruistic mother in the world and your child will resent you for making them your world and never teaching them empathy because you always hid your pain. Or you could work two jobs in order to buy your child anything they want and give them the best education possible and they will begrudge you for never knitting them sweaters or going to their soccer games. No matter how hard you try there is going to be a counter-effect that you could never anticipate.

So these so called "mommy wars" where women are telling other women how to be mommies is absurd to me. We put so much energy into umpiring other mommies rather than supporting each other in a journey that is endlessly complex. I read mommy blogs and mommy advice books and I appreciate other people's opinions, but I see them as just that. Opinions. Some of it I agree with and try to apply, some of it I agree with and can't seem to enact, and some of it I don't agree with but unconsciously do anyway. I think a healthy dialogue about these issues is important, and obviously everyone isn't going to see eye to eye, but that doesn't mean we have to attack each other in the process.

What is un-feminist is the endless scorn that we expel onto other women, not the personal choices we make. Every mother at one point is going to have to face her child who says "Hey mom, this is how you screwed me up," and even if it hurts to hear, it is an important conversation to have. The best you can do is listen, say "Yeah, sorry about that... I did the best I could and I hope we can be friends for the next 60 years while we are both adults," and go to your mommy friends to make fun of your now grown-up children behind their backs for being oversensitive.

 

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