Welcome to One Busy Momma! The Blog for Busy Moms by one Busy Mom.....

Welcome to my blog. One Busy Momma is my space to rant about my life and the things that happen in it. I have a crazy life - and instead of focusing on the crazy - I like to focus on the funny. Because if I focused on the craziness - well, I'd have been shipped off to an institution long, long ago. And while, I'll admit, there are some days when being institutionalized sounds PRETTY GOOD compared to making ANOTHER diorama at 1am - I'd rather be right where I am - in my messy house with my not so perfect kids making crooked dioramas in the middle of the night.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why are we STILL fighting the Mommy Wars?

Hi Peeps! Well, as promised - I am reveling in my rainy Sunday. I am currently sitting on the couch, wrapped in my fluffy green blankie - that sort of smells like wet doggie- with a new candle burning, a big cup of coffee on the table, a new book and my knitting by my side. But before I slip into my cocoon of happiness, I thought that we'd have a little chat about another hot topic - the Mommy Wars.

You know the war that I'm speaking of ...the Working Moms vs. the Stay-at-Home moms. The war was resurrected last week when democratic strategist, and BFF of Gabby Gifford, Hilary Rosen criticized Mitt Romney's statement that his wife "regularly reported to him" on the economic status of women across the country. Rosen jumped on the fact that Ann Romney had never held a job outside of the home and was therefore unqualified to provide any kind of realistic feedback on the challenges the American woman faces on a daily basis. However - the verbage she chose to use was terribly misguided and took the focus off of what was - in my humble opinion - a valid point. She said that Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life".

Well - those 7 words were the equivalent of the shot heard 'round the world. It reignited the Mommy Wars, much to my dismay. Ann Romney quickly countered that she stayed at home and raised 5 sons - and that was pretty hard "work". And who would disagree with her? I'm working to raise one son, and in the past 24 hours I have had to say things like: "Stop farting on your sister and her friend!"; "If you fart on Bella one more time you are going right to bed"; "STOP TRYING to RIDE the dog!"; "We DO NOT make those noises at the dinner table!"; "How could you FORGET underpants?"; "WHY would you take a shower and NOT use any kind of soap product?"; "No, you cannot wear flip flops or your baseball uniform to your 1st communion" ; "No, you cannot read a Skippy Jon Jones book for your biography book report"; and - I seriously cannot believe this even came up - "No, receiving communion does not, in ANY WAY, make you anything like the cannibals you saw in the Pirates of the Carribean movie. It is NOT the same thing, and I don't want to discuss this any further."

Needless to say - this Busy Momma thinks that raising 5 boys counts as hard "work". However,  it does NOT make Ann Romney a reliable source of information or insight on the lives of the average American woman. Sorry - but it doesn't. Ann Romney's situation was and is VASTLY different from the "average" American mom. She is married to an incredibly rich politician. She has always had domestic help. She has never been faced with the difficult Mommy dilemmas that most of us are faced with on a daily or weekly basis.

The problem is that pundits lumped ALL Stay at Home moms in with Ann Romney! And that is HARDLY the case. According to the latest study - the vast majority of Stay-at-Home moms are immigrants - the vast majority being Hispanic and live at or below the poverty line. A far cry from Ann Romney's "ladies who lunch and drive a couple of luxury cars" lifestyle. Most of the SAH moms I know do NOT have domestic help and choose to stay home for a variety of reasons. Many of the SAH moms I know tell me that they are home for a few years until their kids are in school full time because full-time childcare is way too expensive and that if they had to pay for full-time child care for 2 or more kids - they would essentially be working just to pay for childcare!  Most of the SAH moms I know make HUGE sacrifices to stay at home with their kids. Long gone are the days of weekly manis, and salon haircuts and highlights. Many of them can;'t remember the last time they were able to escape with their husbands for a romantic get-away- or even a dinner out! ALL of the SAH moms I know are college educated women who gave up good or even great careers to stay at home with their kids. Most of them plan on returning to the workforce. They cook, clean, do laundry, play games, design stimulating, meaningful experiences for their children...all while trying to live on one income that is easily 40-70k LESS than what they were used to before they had kids. AND when they do re-enter the workplace- they have quite a mountain to climb. They might have a boss who made different choices - who chose to come back to work after each child and now looks at them with resentment and jealousy. They might have to re-prove themselves...when they ALREADY proved themselves 10, 12, 15 years ago.

And what about the professional moms out there? How much "better" do we have it? Well, we certainly have more dollars to play with each month. But many of those dollars go to childcare, housekeeping, after school activities, weekend activities, summer camp, take -out and order-in meals and all sorts of other expenses going back to work entails. And then there is the guilt..the awful, horrible GUILT that we ALL feel at some point because when you work outside of the home - you inevitably miss things. You can't be lunch mom, because you are working every day at lunch time. And no matter how many times you try to gently explain this, it still feels like a knife in the heart when you hear "But why can't you just do it one day Mommy?" How do I explain that I only have so many vacation days and that I try to save as many as possible so that if you or your sister get sick, I will have some vacation days to use to stay at home and take care of you and that I can't justify using one of those 15 precious days to spend 25 minutes in your classroom opening pouches of Capri Suns and apple sauce cups. How do you tell your 6-year old that you can't go on the field trip because you took too many days off when he had pneumonia in February  and your coworkers have no tolerance for "Mommy stuff" because they are all younger and childless? How do you explain that you can't make the band concert because you have a 10 million dollar sales presentation the next morning in East Ka-pup and that you have to spend that night prepping the presentation with the team. Oh - I could go on like this for days...

Here's my point - why do we have to decide which way is "better"? WHY do we have to take sides? Why can't we see each choice as valid and support one another? I've been a SAH mom and a Professional mom - and let me tell you BOTH choices require ENORMOUS sacrifice and hard work. When I was home I remember thinking that if I had to play Candyland one more time I just might cry. The idea of lugging out the playdough was enough to put me over the edge some days. I would strike up conversations with telemarketers and strangers in Target just to talk about something other than Dora or Diego. I remember feeling like a failure when my friends would talk about their careers - and all I could talk about was the fact that Bella could already count to 20 AND could say "hello" and "my name is" in French thanks to those Muzzy tapes I found on ebay. When I went back to work I felt AWFUL when I would pick the kids up at after-care and Jack would be sitting on one of the ladies laps crying for me because he was so tired. I re-entered the workforce expecting to step right back in as the "rockstar" I thought I was before I left. Hahahahahahahahaha!! Those days were LONG gone. The people I was NOW working with were in high school and college when I was working my way through the ranks. They didn't know me when I was cutting my teeth and proving myself...hence I had to prove myself all over again - to YOUNGER, less experienced people. Talk about a swift kick in the gut. And my story is hardly unique.

Will this discussion EVER be finished? When will people recognize that the title of "Mom" is synonymous with "WORK" and that no matter how we choose to navigate through our journey through motherhood - we ALL deserve respect and a boatload of gratitude. This job does not come with a guidebook, a playbook or a rule book. We all make it up as we go along. And it's HARD.

Here is what I consider hard: I have a cleaning lady. I have full time help over the summer. My dad is my "Manny" all year long and makes sure that all homework - even 5th grade math- is completed and checked before I walk in the door so that I don't have to worry about it.. My mom can stay with my kids when they are sick and can make them homemade chicken soup and cluck over them when I can't. My kids can spend the night with my parents when PC and I are both traveling. It's a perfect arrangement for me - for now. If ONE of my carefully constructed safety nets becomes unwound - I am SCREWED. Notice my verbage - I am screwed. Not "PC and I are screwed". Because the Mommy crown comes with many strings attached - one of them being the irrational belief that you and ONLY YOU can and should make these arrangements. Mommy knows best. And that is what I consider HARD.

Then I think about the woman who barely speaks English, who has 2 or 3 jobs, no cleaning lady, no Nanny, Poppy, Sookie, PC, Christina, Carly or others to back her up, and who is lucky to have 60 bucks a week to feed 6 poeple. What would she think of me saying that my situation is "hard". Would she look at me the way that I look at Ann Romney? Maybe we all need top put down our guns and pick up our green fluffy doggie-smelling blankies and wrap one another in a cocoon of support and acceptance. I wonder what would happen if we all did that....

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