I’ve been reading lately about the Mommy Wars and the debates out there in the news and blogosphere. You know, it’s the same old contest of who’s being a better parent and what you exactly have to do to be the best parent. I think it’s such a load of crap. I’m not saying that I think the Mommy Wars don’t exist, because I know they do. I just think it’s a bunch of bull that we’re still subjecting ourselves to this kind of competitive classism (for lack of a better word; is there a word for the phenomenon of catty cliquishness in regards to parenting? OK, let’s make one up. I’m calling it mombullyism, or maybe parentalshitism.) I think it’s bull that feminism gets called into it, and it’s suddenly made all political (as if politics justify being competitive and nasty). And I think it’s extra special bull that people can come up with myriad, tiny ways to be mombullyists (from who breastfeeds to who’s got the most hits on their blog – are you kidding me?!) And it’s not limited to the moms, though that mombullyism is the most highlighted, dads and parents in general get subjected to this.
In my mind, there is no way to ever win the war. Every side does have a point and some value… for the individuals concerned. As parents, we make choices every day. We are individuals, our children our individuals, and we have to make choices, within the circumstances that we live in, that are best for us and our children personally. This means some moms work, some dads work, some stay home, some don’t. If that means working because you have bills to pay, then that’s what you have to do. If staying at home works the best for your children and is the most fulfilling for the caregiver, then so be it. Equally, if you personally find that having a break (whatever that is: work, hobbies, blogging, etc.) may give you a better relationship with your kids, i.e. more patience, communication, etc. then that is what’s best for you. It all comes down to your own family dynamics and personalities, financial situations, and life balance. What’s best for you and your kid may not be the best for someone else’s family.
I’ve made my choices the same as any other parent. I made the choice to hire a cleaning service. I also made the choice to work part time from home. I’ve seen the rolled eyes and the sneers. I’ve heard how EASY I have it – from people who have never walked in my shoes (and from both sides of the “war”, mind you). And you know what? I don’t give a damn. It kind of seems to me that you’re going to get some sneers no matter what you do. The choices I have made leave me more time with my son and they also give me space for sanity. I fully admit that I can’t do everything, and I’m not going to try to keep up to someone else’s idea of parenting. This is what works for our family.
Parenthood automatically equals a certain amount of guilt. Regardless of what choices we make, even when we think we’re doing a pretty good job, in our parental mind there is always doubt that we’re doing enough. I think what pisses me off the most about the Mommy Wars is that it feeds off that guilt, exploits it, manipulates its presence. Though some people might wish you to think otherwise, I have yet to meet a caring parent who does not worry deep down that they are doing enough for their kids. I think those certain individuals who are the most adamant that their way is correct (and everyone else’s is wrong) are really just trying to bury their own lingering doubt. The ones who seem to gleefully enjoy ridiculing another parent’s choices are even worse (I have to assume there are self-esteem issues involved).
Of course, we all have our opinions and we are entitled to them. We also all have seen examples of truly “bad” parenting – heartbreaking cases where kids were hurt or neglected; where the parents just didn’t care. But the Mommy Wars aren’t about stopping these cases from happening. A lot of the mombullyism doesn’t touch the real issues; they just elevate personal choices and trivial points of disagreement to a level that makes regular, everyday, good people feel like bad parents. (And frankly, with all the crap in the world today, I think the good people should be the last ones made to feel as if they’re doing something wrong because they have made personal choices within their family.)
So I’d like to put forth a radical idea: consider the notion that “it takes a village” – if we all practiced a little more “live and let live” on the personal choices and instead tried tackling some of the big issues we might just have a more cohesive village to raise our kids in.
– the weirdgirl