Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In case you missed this,

it's not to be missed. Great lyrics. Go Fuck Yourself

Still reading - and amazed by The Feminine Mystique. Amazed by the relevance to today, where Good Morning America is all over the alleged Mommy Wars. I'm in stitches, as the arguments made are ripped straight from the women's magazines of 50+ years ago, cited and dissected by Friedan. Same story, different generation.

Whatever floats your boat baby, work, don't work, be glad you have the uterine permission slip to choose, men don't get that. But the message board connected with the story was like so many others I've seen over the years - name-calling: "selfish" is a biggie. Dire stories about day care, another biggie. Working mothers who had worked out the compromise between home and family life were shouted down - and seriously outnumbered - by the SAHMs who had the gall to claim THEY were criticized for their choice. Would it be rude to point out that happy working moms of well-adjusted kids have other things to do in the morning than watch Good Morning America, so they are underrepresented in this mob?

My daughter got me into reading Amalah. She is a terrific girl and she and her husband are besotted parents of what may be the cutest baby on the entire Internet. And when she went back to work, angst-ridden enough by having to leave the small love of her life in an excellent day care near her office, she was abused by strangers on her blog. She's just not willing to "sacrifice" enough, you know. Selfish bitch. She lives in one of the most expensive places in the country, and has this crazy idea about providing for her child - providing well, not living on the edge - and it takes two salaries to do it. This isn't being selfish, this is being real. It ain't easy (see her post) and for anyone to say mothers casually "dump" kids in day care to skip off to carefree jobs, obviously they've never done it. But often it's the right thing to do.

I've said it before, but it's a pet rant of mine: So many SAHMs on the GMA board talked about all they "sacrificed" to stay home. Martyr Mommy! It's one thing to sacrifice a job (especially if you weren't that thrilled with it) it's another to sacrifice financial security to do it. If you are living on the edge, cutting out savings for the future and not developing your own earning potential so it'll be there if you need it, honey, you aren't a martyr, you're an idiot. If your husband is pulling in big bucks and you want to take off a few years to stay home with the preschoolers and it doesn't impact health care, savings, or anything else, do it and love it. If you do the math and realize that staying home now would have serious long term consequences later and go back to work, you are not "selfish." You are living in reality.

My baby is 22. I'm long gone from the Mommy Wars, and maybe it's distance that gives the perspective that it's all crap - the kids of the working mommies and the SAHs turned out remarkably similar and basically all normal, imperfect human beings. There are so many ways we fuck up our kids, and Mommy working or not working isn't even a blip on the big picture. So GMA's deliberate whacking of the hornet's nest by recycling anecdotal data that somehow, remarkably echoes a 50 year old trend, was a real eye-roller. Next Angst: Educating Women - A bad idea? Let the circle be unbroken....


Ginnie said...

I think alot of the nastiness aimed at working moms is out of guilt that maybe those SAHM's are doing the wrong thing. I am with you about the fact is that they have the option to make a choice that is right for them. But, as with so many in our society in this day and age, their way is the only way.

I have often been told I was selfish not to have children. IMO, it is way more selfish to have kids you don't want and not give them the love they need and deserve.

A pox on them!

Catherine said...

It's the absolutism of the positions taken - "Not having kids is selfish!" "You are a BAD seflish mother if you work because you are Letting Strangers Raise Your Child!" It's horseshit. I raised my kids, and I fit my working life around their needs. It required compromises (on the working side) but it wasn't that difficult. I read the comments on that GMA board and just roll my eyes - "I couldn't work those long hours!" (so instead of finding another job with more reasonable hours, I quit and never went back, and the baby I did it for is now in middle school). "It's just not possible to raise your kids right and work too."

The young moms in my neighborhood ALL work full time. I know them, I know their well behaved, happy kids, nobody's neglected, stressed or screwed up. But it doesn't fit with the recycled fiction that all women all secretly wish they stayed home and those who do work are miserable. Saying you are (or in my case were) a happy working mother with no regrets about it is like saying you don't want kids - socially unacceptable in many circles.

cursingmama said...

I'll never understand the Mommy Wars, why can't people understand that it doesn't have to be a war or a popularity contest or even a test of one's ability to mother. I'm a much better mom if I'm not of the stay at home variety.

I did that SAHM thing for a while and the only thing it did was to suck my brain out of my head and turn me into a depressed mess who tried to cure her depression by spending money we didn't have on things we didn't need. My kids are (and were) better off when I'm not a SAHM.

Also - goodness forbid - if I HAD to take care of just me & the kids I could, and they wouldn't lose out on anything we already have and do. I like me some safety net.

Thanks for the links - they're great as always!

Catherine said...

I was a SAHM between the birth of Boy and Girl's 2nd b-day, about 5 years, long enough to climb the walls. I went to work part time, then I went to 30 hours (and classes at night) when she hit kindergarten and full time when she was in, I guess, 2nd grade? But the "buying things" is part of the FM! I'm in the chapter where it describes "marketing to housewives" of the 50s - fascinating stuff. Makes me want to really study cultural issues of the 20th century.

Ginnie said...

I alos think there are good moms and bad moms, regardless of whether they work. I also think, especially in this day and age, that it sets a good example, especially for young girls. The Prince Charming myth still exists, and it is a good thing for girls to see their moms take care of themselves.