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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.

2 comments:

  1. I'm very proud of you for this posting. You know I chose, at different times for well discussed and thought out reasons, to both stay home with you kids and then to work. And even become the breadwinner so that your dad could go to school for his degree, for your futures. Yes, it was hard because both your father and I wanted me to stay home until you both were in school.

    The saddest thing I found with both decisions, was the reaction and attitude from other women - not other men. When I stayed home, women thought I sat around all day watching soap operas and losing my earning skills - on the contrary, my skills of managing life with children improved my working skills. When we chose for me to become the breadwinner - which meant working overtime - even though your dad was there and being "Mr. Mom" while going to school, I got comments because others were raising my children while he was in class, not to mention the comments about the fact that I was supporting him and he was going to meet and run off with a younger and more beautiful co-ed. Again, these comments came from other women. I NEVER heard this from men! Why are we harder on our own sex for their decision when we should be supporting them for making the TOUGH decisions in life.

    You are right - our goals should be to be the best moms and to not judge others. But we are also very human and in our humanity, we are VERY flawed! We have lessons to learn and to teach our children. Some succeed while others fail...and some publish their thoughts, which are very different than our own. But just know that the way you are raising Liam will continue to help him be an understaning, accepting man. AND the best thing of all is that, because you feel this way, I know that you will be supportive to other women for their child-rearing choices!

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  2. I once worked with a woman who would tell me what a "bad mother" I was for any offense that didn't meet her expectations, which was quite often; too often to be healthy for my self-esteem. She was also a mother of 3 who had made her choice when her children were young to stay home with them. But she never failed to point out my parenting flaws, sometimes to the point of driving me to tears. Bless her heart.

    Fast forward to me now being a stay at home parent for the time being. There is something to be said for being a stay at home parent. I love my new job, but someday I may have to go back to work, and I pray I have the strength to do it without breaking my own heart. I have the utmost respect for both kinds of parents that stay home, and work. For each type have their own difficulties that are not comparable to the other. Each parent suffers from the question that never seems to cease, "Am I totally screwing up my kids because of XYZ?" Each parent needs to realize about their other parenting cohorts that indeed WE ARE ALL WINGING THIS! No one becomes a professional parent your first time around, or your second time either. Everyone is different, but we are all similar in our struggles.

    I struggle everyday to find that balance of how far to let my children fail, to ready them for the world they will inherit, and not break their own unique spirit. I know, like many other parents, they struggle with that too. We are not alone in this. It takes a village to raise a child, isn't that the quote? So why don't we act like it? Help each other become better parents by helping each other, lending a hand or an ear, offering support, talking through a tough parenting situation? Instead we browbeat people with words that hurt instead of offering encouragement...parenting is HARD people! The sooner we help each other those scary moments become easier because we know that we aren't in this alone. In my humble opinion, if parents would help each other, extend that sometimes needed ear or shoulder, the raising of our children might be easier, and the added bonus of this collaboration would be that our children would see us working together for the betterment of the situation, but that's just me. I pray everynight for my children's future. Life is scary enough, but we don't have to go it alone...

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