Becoming a Pacifist in the Mommy Wars
Mommy Wars. How I hate that ridiculous phrase. It's a phrase the media uses to divide us, as women and as mothers. It's a loaded phrase, full of vitrol and judgement. What side are you on? What side is the right side? Enough already!
This week I've heard a lot about "leaning in" and "leaning out" because of Sheryl Sandberg and Lisa Miller. I've read a few online articles about both women, but I broke my own rule of NEVER READ THE COMMENTS! The comments are as awful as you can imagine when it comes to the topic. Both the pro and con SAHM sides have nasty things to say to each other. Opinions are like butts, everyone has one, but now they'll shout them loudly on the internet. The "I think" and "I believe" and "those people are just WRONG" opinions of the very angry push my buttons. Everyone thinks they know how to run everyone else's lives, but like Atticus Finch said, you have to walk in someone else's shoes to understand them.
One response to this leaning business I read and felt a ping of kinship with is Shannon's on Feministing: Gender Essentialism and the Feminist Housewife. As she says, she didn't make the decision to stay at home in a vaccum. Back when I was pregnant, I decided to stay at home as well, for reasons I won't get into. They're based on local and personal economics, as well as my own personal beliefs. I wouldn't expect everyone to do as I have done. Now I'm ready to get back into the workforce. It's a scary time for me, an exciting one too. Life is constantly changing and where we are today won't necessarily be where we are in the future.
Women are people and as varied as men. Some like having kids, some think "yuck, babies," some are great staying home, and some go crazy. Yes, women make the eggs and milk, bacon sometimes optional, but that doesn't mean men aren't excellent caretakers. Some are more "maternal" than some women. We still live in a culture that expects mothers to be the main caregiver. The media is spectacularly good at laying on the guilt and we buy into it when we engage in this war. I'm going to paraphrase Tina Fey here: we got to stop judging each other because that just makes it okay for guys to do it. While we're distracted by all of this, we're not paying enough attention to the things that matter. Like how women still don't make as much as men, how childcare is hard to find and the people doing it underpaid. We're never going to get anywhere if we're sniping at each other.
I understand that I can't change someone's mind about me and I know I can't stop them from voicing their opinion, but I can choose how I deal with it. From now on, I refuse to engage. I'm not going to justify my decisions to anyone. Nope. I've made my decisions and you can make yours. We can shake hands and agree to disagree if we have to, but I'm staying out of your business. You do what you got to do, sister friend.