By K Hernan • May 03, 2007•Women and Law in the Media
There was an article in the Washington Post last week that boldly asserts that the "Mommy Wars" are a figment of our imagination, a creation of the media that always likes to showcase a good cat fight. The article is very well researched and propounds an interesting stance on the so-called conflict between working moms and stay at home moms ("SAHM").
I completely believe that all the press coverage of the Mommy Wars is meant to "[tug] at the guilt of the privileged." After all, I put myself in the categories of privileged and guilty and feel myself getting tugged on an almost daily basis. I also believe that this is a war among the financially well-off women in America and doesn't reach the vast majority of women for whom there is no alternative to working. However, I take issue with the underlying argument that the war is pretend, an effort of the media to fuel a controversy that doesn't exist.
I am okay with the idea that most of the guilt associated with being a working mom is in my own mind. There is nobody close to me that tries to make me feel guilty. A lot of the information that forms the basis of my guilt comes from the media. However, that doesn't mean that the "war" is in my head.
This is our family's first year at one of those elite private schools. I would estimate that the moms in the kids' two classes are about 60-65% SAHMs. The rest of the moms are doctors or real estate agents. The SAHMs are about 50% former professionals - doctors, lawyers, CEOs. This is the source of a lot of judgment. I have been overtly and covertly criticized for my decision to practice law. I have been interrogated incessantly about how I am going to find time for the kids. My husband has been criticized (mostly covertly) for our decision for him to stay at home. I've noticed the working moms go out of their way to work their position at the hospital into our conversations at playdates and birthday parties, presumably so I won't assume they are a SAHM and judge them. The SAHMs seem to always be on the defensive about their decisions. I probably seem to be the same way although I try to keep the conversation about the kids and not about me.
I also feel like I am at a constant disadvantage because things like parent teacher conferences and performances are all during the day. The school even recently held strategic planning/brainstorming sessions during the day with very little advanced notice--few working parents attended. Not to mention class parties and field trips which are, obviously, out of the question. I'm not one to usually find discrimination in seemingly simple choices but the school could try to be more accomodating.
So, yes, the guilt is in my head but the war is real and raging in my world.