I wonder if Joni Mitchell was secretly writing about the dreaded “Mommy Wars” when she wrote her hit song, “The Circle Game.” Because, the way it stands now, somebody writes an article about being a working parent, and then somebody else responds as a stay-at-home mom, and then here I am responding to the response. “We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came. And go round and round and round, in the circle game.” Sigh.
The latest shot fired in the Mommy Wars comes from Canadian mom Lydia Lovric, whose Huffington Post piece, “Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Don’t Work,” is a direct response to the 2013 Parenting.com article, “Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Work,” written by Sasha Emmons. Why Lovric is writing a response piece to a 2-year-old article is beyond me, but here we are, trapped in the middle of yet another working mom vs. stay-at-home mom debate that helps nobody and only serves to further the divide between women. Awesome.
Emmons’ original piece is very specific to her situation and doesn’t pit her choices against those of mothers who stay home, though she does note the inherent bias that is out there against women who work (bolding, mine): “I work because even at your young age you’ve absorbed the subtle message that women’s work is less important and valuable — and that the moms who really love their kids don’t do it.”
At the end of her piece, Emmons feels the need to reiterate that she loves her children, and that if she had to choose between work and family, she would of course choose her children, but she’s very glad she is not forced with that decision. And why does she need to be so insistent on this point? Because there are still people who make it seem that if you work while you have young children, you clearly don’t love them enough.
Enter Lydia Lovric, who felt the burning need to respond to Emmons — two years later. Yet, unlike Emmons’ piece, Lovric’s reads incredibly judgmental. Lovric proceeds to create her own list as to why she stayed home, including her first point: “I stay home because although I did love my job very much, I love you more.”
Why is this still a competition? Mompetition? Why can’t we acknowledge that some situations and choices work best for some families but not all? Why can’t we feel secure in our personal choices without needing to publicly decry the choices of others? Why do we need to continue to pit mothers against each other? Because in the end, the only losers are mothers everywhere.
Society fills our heads with these supposed ideals of ideal motherhood, and that can be very, very dangerous. And the worst part? Many of us buy into it and allow the guilt and judgment to wrap all around us and infiltrate our thoughts. And then we wonder whether we’re even making the right decision, and so we put down others who aren’t make the same choices as us, if only to feel better in that moment. And that just sucks.
Here’s the reality: Some mothers stay at home because they want to. Some mothers stay at home because they have to. Some mothers work outside the home because they want to. Some mothers work outside the home because they have to. No one mother is better than another for the choice they make. No one child is better than another because of the choice his or her mother makes when it comes to this. Most of us have our children’s, our family’s and our own best interest in mind when making these not-so-easy decisions.
So, let’s pull out of this circle game. Nobody wins, everyone loses, and it wastes time and energy that could be put toward uplifting all families.
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