Rawlins Family

Rawlins Family

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Fallout

So this morning my eyes popped open at 6:20 and my head was full of my post from yesterday. My very tongue-in-cheek-yet-extremely-emotionally-charged post. All I could think of was the conversation I had with Chase last night about this whole mess. My comment to him was that I think the biggest problem with what Hillary Rosen said (and I still think what she said was wrong - I've seen all the tape, and I've seen her rebuttals, and I get that she was pointing out Ann Romney's richness and therefore her inability to understand what the working poor are going through, and yes I actually have feelings about that argument as well but that's not what this post is about), is that one woman's attack on another woman was going to explode into LOTS of women attacking LOTS of other women. At the gym this morning CNN was playing a segment called (and I hate this term more than I hate most things in life) "The Mommy Wars."

So let me step back for a minute and say that yesterday I felt defensive. I'm an educated woman living in 2012 who made a choice to get married young, start a family almost immediately and then to stay home with that family. I have worked at different times during my mothering career. Some in the house, some outside of the house. I am currently working at home and can attest to the fact that, on the days I have students, my whole day is oriented around those working hours. It's a juggle to get kids and house taken care of, homework done, meals prepared, kids babysat and then home again to meet my students. And I do all of this not because it's good for my children, or because I need a small amount of extra income (though I'm enjoying it, I assure you). I do it because it was time for Mommy to become Anna again, if only for 4.5 hours a week. It's the same reason I recently started running a community food co-op a couple times a month.

I have friends who work outside of the home full-time and part-time. I have friends who run daycare in their home. I have friends who struggle to be stay-at-home-moms because their husband's salary is enough, but not a lot. Each of these women is different in amazing ways, and I've learned from all of them. And most of what I've learned is that there is no ONE right way to be a mom. And we ALL want to be the best mother and person we can be.

Unfortunately, something happens in public discourse that can be frustrating and hard to correct. Often, when someone gets up and says that they believe in something, or claims that something is good, that comment can be misconstrued to mean that something else is bad. Yesterday I wanted to stand up and say, "Being a stay-at-home mom is good! I choose this because it's good. And it's work! HARD work!" But that is all I was saying. There was no implication that not staying at home isn't hard work, or that there aren't other hard things out there. I wasn't rattling off a list of jobs I do to show that my life is harder than yours.

I think if you sat down with a group of moms who work outside the home and moms who stay home full-time you'd find that there are pros and cons to both. I have it good in SO MANY WAYS and I know it. And there are days I wish with every fiber of my being that I could put on a smart suit and pick up my briefcase and head off to work and do something that feels more productive or exciting than making peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.

So, I hope we can make peace. And I hope that this idea of "Mommy Wars" goes away. It doesn't get anyone anywhere and is completely pointless. The only assumption we should ever make about anyone else is that they're doing what is best for themselves and their family.

8 comments:

Alyssa said...

I totally get it, Anna. I think it's natural to feel defensive. I know I've felt the same way, and voiced the same type of feelings. Like you, I have no problem with anyone else or the choices they make or the circumstances they find themselves in, but I do have a problem when others feel the need to minimize what I do, or the choices that I have made. When that happens, it's SO HARD to just sit back and take it without coming up with a rebuttal, which I think is clearly what you were doing yesterday. For example, a while back I got in touch with a friend I hadn't seen since college. She filled me in on all the cool/fun stuff she was doing with her career, then I filled her in on my life, and she responded with, "Really?? You're just a stay at home mom?" And I have SUCH A HARD TIME when people say that, because no matter how it comes out, it seems like they're saying "that's it?? You're not doing anything productive?? You're not doing anything exciting or lucrative?? Well that's disappointing." And then I got defensive and felt like I had spell out EVERYTHING that entails, because, again like you, I don't want them thinking I'm a lazy piece of poop. So, ya know. I think we could all react better in these situations, but the emotions are real and sometimes hard to control. And it seems like we live in a society now where it is the norm for women to compete with or attack each other. I've had a hard time maintaining many friendships with women recently, because I just hate the competitiveness, and would rather back out than engage in it. So, like Uchtdorf said, we should all just STOP. IT.

Emily said...

Amen!

Emily said...

Amen!

Ben & Diane said...

I suppose me calling her an idiot wasn't nice either. Sorry. No one wants to be belittled and that was what her comments felt like to me. That she was belittling.

Sara said...

Alyssa, thank you for your comment. I need to hear it from another angle because as a single woman who would give up just about everything in my "career" life to be a wife and mother, I can't tell you how many times people who are mothers say to me, "your life is SO much easier than mine because you just go to work and then can come home and not have ANY responsibilities". I don't want them to think I'm a lazy piece of poop either. So it's hard not to justify everything I do and not feel completely worthless because I don't have kids (which is not by choice, it's just what life has given me). I often feel less of a woman because I'm not a mother and I feel like I can't voice my feelings because most of the women around me ARE mothers. Motherhood is a divine role...how do I compete with that? So rather than compete or compare, I try to focus on the good in my life and not what I envy about others' lives. I have some great opportunities in my career, but chances are very good that I'll never hear someone call me "Mommy", which is hard to deal with most days. I respect and admire all mothers, stay-at-home or working and can appreciate the hard work you all do every hour of every day. We should all just be grateful for what we have, we should all support each other and we should stop competing (though it's really hard sometimes). :)

Alyssa said...

I completely understand where you're coming from, too, Sara. I was married and working full time for three years before we had kids (and in Mormon land, all my lady friends were like WHY AREN'T YOU HAVINGN BABIES YET?? WHATS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?). I was called into the YW, and the other two ladies were both married with kids. And so ANY time there was a Tuesday/Friday/Saturday activity, it was automatically assumed that I would be covering it. I ran mutual, I drove girls to broadcasts, I chaperoned dances, I coached volleyball and basketball teams... if it wasn't on Sunday, I was the only one there. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy working with the girls, it was that the other ladies would say to me, ALL THE TIME, that because I didn't have kids I had to do all the chaperoning. It wasn't even a question, a choice - I was told I had to do it, and the reason was because I didn't have kids, so I had no excuse not to be there. Didn't matter that I worked full time and they didn't, they thought my full time job was nothing compared to what they had to do. It's not just working moms who rag on stay at home moms, it's not just SAHM's who rag on working moms, or singles ragging on marrieds, or marrieds ragging on singles. ITS EVERYONE RAGGING ON EVERYONE AND IT MAKES ME CRAZY. This is why I don't like people, and generally try not to leave my house.

Sara said...

Alyssa, this is just one more reason I think you're AWESOME. :)

The Gillespie's said...

Well put, my friend Anna. You have that way with words that I just don't. We all have our own talents, right?

If I could have said it, I would have said it just like this!