Sunday, May 6, 2012

The mommy wars

Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen sparked political controversy recently when she accused Ann Romney of “Never working a day in her life.”

While Romney handled it gracefully with a well-thought-out response, I think I simply would have gone on television and held my hand up, palm facing out, and said, “Count them — one, two, three, four, five — boys. B-O-Y-S.”

And then for dramatic effect, I would have added “‘Nuff said!” and walked off.

Now, to be clear, I am no political junkie. Talking politics makes me extremely uncomfortable because it always leads to a debate, which is a polite way to say “argument.” More so, it’s an argument that neither person is likely to win because his or her mind is already made up. It would be like trying to convince me English peas taste good, for example. I don’t care what you say or how you cook them, they do not.

However, Rosen’s comments caught my attention immediately because I am mom, and I know the pressures of raising children, no matter whether you are working full time or staying-at-home. I hate that expression, by the way, because when I was the latter, a day without having to leave the house was a luxury.

You may be asking: Why the debate? Who cares if a woman works inside or outside of the home?

The answer is, women care. No matter whether one is 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 go “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 even though she enjoyed every minute of it.

On the flip side, as a stay-at-home mom, I again felt great pressure. Not from working moms, not from other moms, but, again, 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 so have I.)

Today, I am continuing my quest for the perfect balance between work and home. I don’t know what the secret is, but I believe it begins by not holding oneself -- and each other -- to impossibly high standards. Whether you have one, two, three, four or five children, being a mother is work. And, though it may not earn a paycheck, it is, by far, the most rewarding.

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