Maybe there's one piece of good news to come out of the recession - it's killed The Mommy Wars. With the unemployment rate hovering at nine and a half percent, having a job feels like a privilege not a choice. The irony is that while for years moms were "opting out" of the workforce as New York Times reporter Lisa Belkin famously observed in her 2003 magazine cover story, today, moms who want to opt back in, cannot.
Modern mommyhood comes loaded with criticism and judgment. Whether you're a breast feeder or a bottle feeder, grow an organic garden or feed your kid Big Macs, use biodegradable diapers or landfill clogging Pampers, circumcise, vaccinate, nanny or daycare, home school or
private school, wear a sling or push a Bugaboo, the smorgasbord of personal choices and decisions seem to invite contempt. But one thing is off the changing table - at least for now - whether a "good mom" chooses to work.
I've always thought that The Mommy Wars were more a media-induced catfight than real, live moms dueling on the playground. It's true that back when the Dow danced above 10,000, many professional women gave up their high octane careers and spent their days in yoga pants
practicing baby massage and taking music classes. Many still do. But the tension stemmed more from anxiety and guilt than from animosity. Whatever "choices" you made, made you feel insecure.
New York Magazine documented this era with an incendiary cover that showed the buff armed, bobbed, blonde mom carrying her tow headed toddler on her hip juxtaposed to the brunette in a suit who stares aloofly away from her child. Stoking the flames of mom-on-mom
hostility, the article declared that at-home mothers were not only in shape and stress-free but having better sex than their working sisters. But that was so 2002, when the economy was just hinting at a downturn, not in the toilet.
Perusing UrbanBaby.com recently, the alpha mom cyberspace resource known for advice on everything from what nipple shield works best to what stroller to buy and where women also proudly identify as acronyms SAHM (Stay-at-Home Mom) /WOHM (Work Outside the Home Mom) I've noticed a change. The relations, at least anecdotally, between SAHM and WOHM have definitely thawed. The heated discussions these days have more to do with DH (dear husband) than other moms.
Do a search on "Mommy Wars," on other parenting sites, and you're more likely to turn up "Star Wars" or "Health Care Reform," as a topic of message board conversation. Yes, the category of working vs. staying at home is still heavily trafficked, but the snarkiness has softened.
After all, in a time of cash for clunkers, TARP, Ponzi schemes and "Recessionistas," the luxury of choosing not to work, seems, well, unseemly if not downright irresponsible.
So while the anxiety and angst of mothering will always persist and the labels continue to exist - Slacker Mom, Alpha Mom, Good Enough Mom, Stay-at-Work Mom - at least the Warring Moms have taken a time out.
Follow Wendy Sachs on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wsachs