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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When Moms Attack

I struggled to not get frustrated after reading these two articles, "Dear Daughter, Here's Why I Work" and "Dear Daughter, Here's Why I Don't Work." Go ahead, go read them. I'll just wait here for you to click back over.

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OK, so now that you've read them and formulated your own opinions, I am going to throw my thoughts at you.

1. This quote from Why I Don't Work which makes me angry. "I would feel like an utter failure if any of my kids felt the need to ask me if I loved work more than I loved them."

Wow, can I just say, even after all the negative assumptions the columnist made about the other mom in her list of why she stays at home, this one just pisses me off. The working mom isn't a failure because her daughter asked her a question and a hurtful one at that. She isn't a failure because she has a opinion and made decisions that differ from other women's. She isn't a failure because she decided to stand up and make sure her daughter knew - through a public forum - that working and the reasons you choose to do not mean you love your children any less than the parent who decides to stay home.

2. This quote from Why I Work makes me sad. "...despite my being the parent who’s almost always the one walking through the door at 6pm, the one who rarely travels for work, the one who’s keeping track of the fact that the permission slip for the field trip is due tomorrowyou’d never ask your father why he works. His love is a given that long hours at work do nothing to diminish."

This makes me sad because we live in a world where the idea that mom and dad aren't equal is common place, so common place that our children pick it up. Do we parents cultivate it? 

Sometimes, without even realizing we do. 

Sadly, so many other things are passed to our children the same way. When a parent tells their toddler son that he shouldn't wear a tutu or play with a specific toy, we are passing along gender bias. When we interact with persons of different races, nationalities, disability, etc. our kids pick up on how they should treat those kinds of people in the future. We all know that actions speak louder than words, but tend to not think about how our behavior instructs our children.

3. Which leads me to this quote from Why I Work. "I work because even at your young age you’ve absorbed the subtle message that women’s work is less important and valuableand that the moms who really love their kids don’t do it. I work because by the time you have your own daughter, I cross my fingers this will not be so."

I try every day to remember that Liam is picking up mixed messages every where he goes and from every person he sees. He is observing how the world works and is striving to learn how to function in a way that will cause himself the least amount of pain. It's hardwired into us to learn this way. It's my job as his parent (no genderfication necessary) to help him sort it out and find the path that he can follow to become the best human he can be. The best version of himself that he can be. 

I do this by not putting road blocks up with my own biases. I do this by not showing him to treat anyone unequally. I do this by reinforcing his natural inclination to be inclusive, kind, and loving to everyone.

Maybe these moms could remember that when they write their opinions to write in a way that doesn't tear someone else down to build themselves up. They each are guilty of building negative thinking towards their opposite in this particular arena. How about just saying, to their questioning offspring that while these are my reasons for working or not working, my goal is to be the best mom I can be and to teach you to respect others' opinions, choices, and actions. Just so they can know how it feels to not have to defend anything they choose if they ever are faced with the same choice.