Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ending the inner Mommy War

Since the announcement of the Republican vice presidential pick, Sarah Palin, a lot has been said about the so-called “Mommy Wars.” Having worked full time for eight years while raising a child, followed by eight years of being a stay-at-home mom (I hate that expression as a day without having to leave the house was, and continues to be, a luxury), I feel I can weigh in on the subject.

In my experience, I’ve learned that whether it is being president of the PTA or CEO of a corporation, women are competitive. And we are also our own worst critics.

I must admit, as a working mom, the pressure (or guilt) I felt came mainly from within. Sure, I heard a few stay-at-home moms do a tsk, tsk, when I brought in store-bought goods for the bake sale. But what I hated the most was dropping my daughter off at day care before school opened, so she could be bused to school each day. And I detested being the last one to pick her up from after school care. The worst kick in the pants was when she didn’t win several awards during her first grade year because her mommy had forgotten to turn in the paperwork.

The irony of it all is my daughter never complained. She was, and, at 18, continues to be, one of the overall happiest people I know. She was proud that I worked and has a developed a good work ethic herself.

On the flip side, as a stay-at-home mom, I again felt great pressure. Not from working moms, not from other moms, but from myself. I always thought I had to throw the biggest birthday parties with homemade cakes and over-the-top decorations, including homemade piñatas. One party was so extraordinary, not to mention overwhelming, that my daughter hid in her room.

(Don’t worry; she has fully recovered from that childhood trauma, and I now have a sign in my kitchen that reads, “Martha Stewart don’t live here.”)

After suffering from some health issues (now fully recovered) after my third child, I found a way to work from home, occasionally going into a corporate office. Today, I have finally found a happy balance between work and home, but only after I stopped holding myself up to impossibly high standards. Working moms and stay-at-home moms should unite and do the same for Sarah Palin--and themselves.

1 comment:

Angela McRae said...

I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on this. I am completely fascinated by the Sarah Palin pick, but especially by the media's treatment of her. Should moms work outside the home or not, and does it depend on what party you're in? Or whether your 17-year-old has made a mistake? (But perhaps as a conservative I'm overly sensitive to the treatment I think she's been subjected to.) I'm especially interested in what the mothers of America have to say about her, since I feel those of you with children have a better idea of what is and isn't possible for a mother of five to accomplish. It's sure a fun time to be a political junkie!