Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Mommy Wars

Sometime back in 1992, I made the decision (along with my then-husband) to go back to work after giving birth to my first child. I was lucky enough to have an extended maternity leave of 4 months and had saved enough personal vacation to extend that another month. I was also lucky enough to have a supervisor who was very understanding of the transition I would have to make upon going back to work and was willing to work with me. I explained to her that always my child comes first and we worked together on those issues that would inevitably come up not just now but in the future. I promised myself I would never push my baby on anyone if he was sick or needed me and I would never let work get in the way of an important function that involved him or any future kids.

What I didn't realize at the time was that whether or not I liked it I was going to be thrown into the "Mommy Wars." I was totally clueless of the term and the internet wasn't around for me to figure it out. But the judgements and questions certainly were there. Many women who I knew or were acquaintances of actually challenged me on my decision. I heard a lot of "why would you have a child if you were going to pawn it off on a day care worker?" I took offense to those questions. Those women don't know me, they don't know my family situation, they didn't know my level of love and committment, they didn't understand my relationship with my son, my husband and God.

Back then (and still today) I am a lover not a fighter. Certainly I have opinions but I don't presume that my opinions are the right's just the right way for ME. I couldn't understand why there was (and still is) such a thing as mommy wars. Why not be supportive of each other and build each other up? That's my thinking anyway. Thank goodness we live in the greatest country in the world where we CAN make that choice freely and openly. We can work outside the home or work inside the home. Either way, it's work. Hard work.

The Mommy Wars never got easier as I had more kids. In fact, with the internet coming long, I read more about the wars. I read forums that pit working moms against stay at home moms and all the time I scratch my head. More judgments, more presumptions, more perceptions. I don't quite get it.

I read a lot of reports about kids in daycare. The statistics say that day care kids are more likely to grow up to be aggressive bullies. Day care kids are more sickly. I think to myself "but my kids all went to daycare and they are not bullies or aggressive and they go to the doctor only once a year for a checkup (knock on wood)." Maybe the stats are true. I don't know. But they aren't true for me and my family.

And then on Friday I see something I never thought would ever happen. A working mom on a Republican ticket. How very interesting! Whatever your thoughts of her are politically (I don't blog politics) I have to wonder if Governor Sarah Palin was ever asked why she decided to go back to work after her children were born.

It definitely makes me wonder.

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