For as long as I've been a stay-at-home mom -- okay, long before that since I didn't invent motherhood -- there's been the stay-at-home vs. working mom debate. Who was the better mom: the one who fully embraced her domesticity or climbed the corporate ladder? Should women hang up their college degrees or ignore the baby bottles? Clearly those mothers who gave up their jobs and career goals to run around the playground and volunteer with the PTA were a disappointment to all the women who fought and struggled for their equality in the corporate world. Or was it that the moms who pursued their career plans, establishing themselves as experts and commanding respect in their fields, with their own pocket change, doing a disservice to their children, left in the care of some strangers?
And then, to mix it up a little bit, there were the moms who confused the argument by taking their babies to work or taking their work home. Were they cheating, trying to unfairly have it all?
Let's throw into the ring those used-to-be stay-at-home moms who are looking for their old job back. Those who, in the terms of a recent New York Times magazine article, "opted out" and now want back in. Of course, the three women in the article represent the whole of stay-at-home moms going back to work, right? Divorced or with an unsupportive husband regretting that they left their great jobs in the first place as they try to get back into their cubicles. They woke up and realized that having to ask hubby for funds to go buy that new pair of shoes wasn't fun anymore. What about the moms who stayed home, had a great time, and don't ever want to go back to work? The message from these moms is that it's just a matter of time before they'll be begging for their old 9-to-5.
Not to be left out, the single-by-choice moms are putting in their two cents. Now had the other moms skipped the whole marriage and husband bit and kept their jobs all along, they would be happy and at peace right now, with their perfect, non-crying babies and all the freedom to do whatever they wanted with their kid. Formula or breastfeeding, cloth diapers or disposable, organic or totally processed food? They don't have to ask anybody else anything.
This doesn't even account for all the other mommas out there: You can fill in the blank and all the missing categories. It's a big momma brawl.
But it doesn't really have to be this way, does it? We don't see the dads fussing over staying at home or working, opting in or out, getting married or staying single. Yes, they do make these same choices, but it doesn't seem to be at the level of public discussion as for the moms. Maybe the guys don't care? Maybe they just do whatever they (and their wife/partner/spouse/baby momma) feel is the right move for them and go with it, not really giving much care to what all the other dads are doing and not feeling the need to tell the other dads that they're doing it wrong.
Hmm... do the men actually have something right this time?
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