So maybe you’ve heard about this mommy war thing? If not, please allow the media to drag you into it.

white_flagSeveral weeks ago, on my first appearance on Raising America, I was asked about a topic I hadn’t prepped for: whether moms in fact are guilty of judging each other in the “mommy wars” and whether blogs are in large part responsible for this.

On the screen, a big title reading MOMMY WARS (which to me, read like MOOOMMMMY WAAAAARRRRRRS!!!) kind of set me off.

So instead, I answered the question I wanted to address.

“I really hope we can stop using the term Mommy Wars,” I said, “which is so inflammatory and loaded. The idea of  ‘judging’ a colleague or someone with the same job isn’t limited to parenting. Just walk into any office in America.”

(Or something like that, that was probably far less succinct. You know, live TV. With surprise questions. Hard.)

Also, I wasn’t given a second soundbyte for rebuttal. If I had, what I would have said is, “you know where these so-called wars exist most of all? In the mainstream media. Outrage is good for ratings.”

Fortunately, Isabel Kallman said that very thing on Twitter while I was sitting on live TV squirming. Because she rocks.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 7.10.51 AM

And now, here we are again! Watching this tired topic all replayed again, as it tends to do, only this time in New York Magazine’s incendiary (surprise!) article on The Retro Wife. Also known as The Feminist Housewife in the meta data. (Uh…which is it? Answer: Which is better for page views?)

It opens with your classic inflammatory, suck-you-in, totally anecdotal, one person’s POV meant to tip the annoyance-to-outrage scale of passionate readers:

[Kelly] believes that every household needs one primary caretaker, that women are, broadly speaking, better at that job than men, and that no amount of professional success could possibly console her if she felt her two young children—­Connor, 5, and Lillie, 4—were not being looked after the right way.

Kelly also happen to keep a list of her husband’s clothing sizes on her iPhone, cooks for him, and gives him frequent massages, which are the kind of details meant to create maximum shock and awe you when she reveals she’s (gasp) a self-defined feminist.

My feeling?

Good for Kelly! Yay Kelly! I could not be happier for you that you have found the path that makes you happy. Your husband is one lucky fella, and I bet his dark-washed jeans fit just swell thanks to you.

I can feel that way (and I’m not being facetious) because I’m imagining that instead, the paragraph was written this way: Kelly believes that she should be the primary caretaker, and that, broadly speaking, she is better at her job than her husband. That’s not some blanket statement about what all parents should or should not do, feel, act, be. It’s about Kelly’s choice. For her own family.

I’ve written before that if you want to put an end to the mommy wars it comes down to being secure in your own choices. When you are at peace with yourself, you are at peace with those actions of others that don’t actually affect you.

Team Working Mom vs Team Stay-at-Home-Mom stuff aside, I will concede some helpful (if well-trod) info in the article. Like the research that women are happiest in relationships with egalitarian division of household labor. Or that at the same time, the majority of men don’t actually participate in the household the way mothers do, regardless of whether both parents work. Also that in more cases than not, women take over the household duties, letting their partners rise to their own levels of incompetence–although I don’t know if that’s because “sexism is internalized” as the article suggests, or because women are wired to find satisfaction in certain kinds of tasks and accomplishments.

Or? Perhaps they just truly believe they are better at organizing the underwear drawer in a way that our kids can actually find their underwear each morning should their partners be lacking such skills.

My issue overall with this article, and so many like it, is that the narrative needs changing. Desperately.

We need to talk more about how we can support the various choices that mothers–parents–make for their families. We need to talk about why the US is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid leave for new mothers. (Though hey! We’re in the good company of Swaziland and Papua New Guinea.) We need to talk about paternity leave. We need to talk about why women shouldn’t have too many photos of their kids on their desks if they want to be taken seriously. We need to talk about why, when fathers go back to work after the birth of a baby, not a single colleague will look at him with sad eyes and ask, “so…who’s taking care of the kids?” And then, voice lowered to convey maximum sympathy, “oh…are you okay with that?

And yeah, we need to talk about the number of women who find themselves totally screwed when they want to return to the workforce after a few years off to raise kids. It’s Kelly’s hope when her children are older. And I hope it happens for her.


[infographic via huffpost. Telling. And embarrassing.]

I am tired of articles about “feminists” and who is allowed to call themselves one, as if there’s some sort of Feminism Review Board (FRB) helmed by some greying first-waver that analyzes your choices and hands out accolades accordingly. I’m tired of hearing that stay-at-home mothers are wasting their education, or that working mothers are all inherently models of progressive perfection.

I am more interested in actually embracing the ideals of feminism, as I see them: choice for all women, and all mothers, in part enabled by legal and institutional changes that we desperately need. Like equal pay for equal work; better day care options; more investment in social programs that disproportionately take care of women; more support for single parents; more support for dads who commit to being primary caregivers; better public education options for all children.

Also, we need to stop talking about “choices” as if they’re all choices.  And I include myself here too. In a tough economy, a woman’s career is not necessarily something she could give up if she just sacrificed a few more lattes and that third vacation home.

Here’s one new narrative. It might not be sexy, and it might not sell magazines, but it’s real. Every day, I have a front-row seat to stories of women, mothers who have reinvented themselves through entrepreneurship and passions. Who are finding ways to parent and work, finding fulfillment in both on their own terms.

I’m seeing authors like Asha Dornfest and Christine Koh; publishers like Rana DiOrio; web developers like Rebecca Levey and Nancy Friedman; entrepreneurs like Nina Restieri; world-changers like the ONE Moms; and tech innovators up the whazoo.

Yes, there are trade-offs. Mothers cannot possibly do it all. But please know this, New York Magazine: Each and every one of these mothers adore and love and care for their children no less than those mothers who stay home full-time.

They are not more or less feminist.

And most of all, they are not at war with anyone.


Update: Both women portrayed in the article, Kelly and Rebecca Woolf, have refuted the magazine’s portrayals of them. Considering I had already corrected the characterization of Rebecca (scroll way the F down in comments; it was about number 6) I’m not surprised at all about Kelly. Go on with your bad stay-at-home self, Kelly! Sheesh. And they say blogs can’t be trusted?


76 thoughts on “So maybe you’ve heard about this mommy war thing? If not, please allow the media to drag you into it.”

  1. Back when the flap-causing article du jour was Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic article, @FeMOMhist tweeted that she was going to declare herself neutral in the Mommy Wars, like Switzerland, and would sit around eating chocolate instead of tearing other women to shreds. I like that idea.

    I think people- men and women- need to do what they think works best for their families given the constraints of life as it really is, not the ideal equal society that we wish it was. I just hope they will think about how to make things a little closer to that idea, and vote and act accordingly.

  2. Well said! Erin and I discuss this regularly, and I completely agree that it’s the media perpetuating this idea of “mommy wars.” Which is why, generally, when these stories come up I change the channel.

    Personally, I just don’t have the time, energy or interest to judge others for their choices, or to listen to them judge mine. Professionally my goal is to help those who work for me cultivate the work/life balance we are all seeking.

    It it too naive to ask “can’t we all just get along?”

    1. There ya go…perfect example. You’re busy and you’re happy. No time to sit around and worry about who might be doing something differently than you.

      Yes, let’s all get along! (Well, most of us.)

  3. I’ve always wanted to know how to use red herring appropriately. I think this might be it. These dust-ups that the media creates by baiting us to pick a side and more, to resent the other side, keeps us from facing the only thing that really matters which is—are we ok? Within ok addressing: Is my family happy? Are my kids safe? Am I living the life I want?

    All the other stuff, it just saps our energy and the one thing I know without a doubt is that whether you stay at home, go to an office , we all need all the positive energy that we can muster.

    Stop fighting against and begin working toward—happiness, peace and the understanding that having it all just means loving where you are.

  4. Who in the audience for this? Certainly not men (don’t more women read magazines). Certainly not young women in college or high school. (Just heard they outnumber men’s graduation rates at all levels). Oh. It must be the women whose shadow side still rocks with feeling like a fraud (“If they only knew the REAL me…). The ones who are easy to incite-all four of them-because they’re still growing. War? Vietnam was a war, Afghanistan is a war. Mothers are declaring the game is over. We are defining ourselves for ouselves, beginning with your eloquence, Liz Gumbinner.

  5. Legal, institutional, and social changes – plus acknowledging that one’s choices make up only a portion of one’s circumstances – YES.

  6. I love you! I read these “Women can’t really have it all” articles and get so annoyed. We do need to change the discussion so it’s about *parents* and not just mothers. I believe things will change fundamentally when we get there. I couldn’t manage working outside of the home and having kids without a fully engaged partner. I’m sure he couldn’t either.

  7. I get my kids off to school on time, usually pretty clean, and I often have a paycheck (but not always). WINNING!

    Wait, what? It’s not a competition? Oh man, you just sucked away my reason for getting up in the morning. 😉

    Great article, even better perspective and praise dog we get it through all of our skulls so we can smile on our fellow mother.

  8. Whenever I hear any person (women or men, regardless) that they want to raise their children “right” way (whatever is current/personal definition of right at that moment), I always go back to thinking how much we need stop pretending that we can gain power by controlling every aspect of children’s lives. Kids will not find underwear if not organized in certain way? Not eat a bite if sandwiches are not cut into butterfly shapes? Get completely spoiled if, god forbid, some other person beyond mother/father imparts their values? What kind of bubble are we living in and what kind of prison are we making for ourselves?

    Individualistic mentality has its advantages, and as every major social/cultural idea, can be taken to extreme. And media will jump to use it for ratings, because, heh, it works. Why it works? Because we live in “individualistic” (to extreme) culture. Let’s start tearing down those bubbles! We live in SOCIETY, and we all have to experience it. And make space for other members of society to do the same. And making-space-effort is currently in short supply. Because we are busy proving who is “right-er” and defending against the onslaught of media.

  9. Implying there’s a war means that someone can “win.” And parenting isn’t about winning. And much like relationships – and other things, there’s no magic bullet on how to do it. Every relationship, child, etc is different. I love what you’ve written here. Although half-joking – I did call into question my company’s practice of giving 6 weeks maternity but only one week for paternity. Fortunately my company did listen. I didn’t get 6 weeks. But I did get a 2nd week to spend at home. It’s cyclical and chicken/egg. Yes – we can blame the media for these types of ideas but it’s not JUST the media’s fault because people perpetuate these stereotypes or “rules” as well. And it starts very young from what colors are considered girl colors or boy colors. To what toys are gender specific. And it only escalates from there. Sorry for the random rant 🙂

  10. I’ve been to a lot of conferences. I’ve been a passive part to a lot of discussions between women bloggers and parent bloggers. And I’ve never seen a war. I’ve seen debates on techniques, judgments based on personal preferences, and small groups who don’t like other groups.

    And like you said, if I took out “women bloggers” and “parent bloggers” and stuck in “lawyers” or “comedians” instead? Same thing.

  11. hear, hear! I second Kristin’s comment – I’m too busy to worry, judge, compare, compete. But I’m not too busy to support my girlfriends and whatever direction their lives takes them. Kristin, I love what you said about supporting work/life balance for the people you work with. So important! And Liz, as always I adore and am inspired by you and the other amazing women I’m so fortunate to have in my life.

  12. I like what Kristin (Manic Mommies) said – I don’t have the time, energy, or drive to muster up my give-a-shit about what other women are doing or not doing or the parenting and life choices that they’re making, abusive/detrimental behavior notwithstanding.

    I think there is something sickeningly appealing to traditional media outlets about the idea of a mommy cat fight. It’s lowest-common-denominator reality tv couched in a journalism degree.

  13. “I am tired of articles about ‘feminists’ and who is allowed to call themselves one, as if there’s some sort of Feminism Review Board (FRB) helmed by some greying first-waver that analyzes your choices and hands out accolades accordingly.” CHEERING!!!!!!!

  14. This is so well said, thank you.

    I have no damns left to give over the so-called wars. I’m not at war with anyone. One person’s choices (parenting or totally unrelated) has zippo to do with me and how I run my household (or, how, on any given day, my husband runs the same household.) I’m at the point where I feel I’ll be judged regardless of what I say or do but that has not and hopefully will never change my level of give a shit about what others do/choose. If all this talk won’t result in my having faster access to all of the Skittles, shut up already.

  15. Personally, I was just glad to see a woman embracing the word ‘feminist’ and not shying away from it.

    The so-called mommy wars are easy to fuel because it is one area where even accomplished women feel vulnerable. None of us want to feel we are failing our children, and when there is more than one right way to do things (and we are terrified of the wrong ones) it’s hard to measure how we are doing. I think you are completely right that it comes down to feeling secure in our own choices. Unfortunately parenting has so many variables that that feeling is difficult to come by, leaving us easy targets to get sucked into such inflammatory debates.

  16. I’m reading Ana Homayoun’s The Myth of the Perfect Girl, and the first chapters made me realize that a lot of grown women are trying to “win” at parenting or adulthood because we accept global prescriptions for success rather than finding our own deeper values and joys.

    Asha Dornfest is a great example of a woman who knows herself and defines her own goals that match and promote her values. She’s also one of the most accepting people I’ve met on the Internet.

    Thank you for not sending another volley in the media-promoted mommy wars. You, amazing mom, woman, and person that you are, didn’t fall for their baiting. May we all be so sensible when confronted with the innately inflammatory.

  17. Thank you for mentioning the plight of the mother who is ready to return to the workforce. There’s no path back in — even when the economy is good. We’re a resource that is going to waste.

    1. I agree it is much harder that it should be/needs to be. But don’t give up! We’ve hired three women back into the workforce at my current job- all as part time contractors, because that is what they want. But here’s the bad news: all of those hires were found via our networks. We never posted a job for part time contractors. In fact, only one of those jobs was ever posted at all, and was posted as a full time staff position.

      So I guess I’m saying, those opportunities are out there, but they are hard to find, and require luck and/or crazy good networking skills.

      It is actually a bit of a mission of mine to help other mothers back in, and to help them find part time positions if that’s what they want. Even though I never left and work full time. How’s that for the opposite of a mommy war?

      Oh, and I just noticed a typo in the title of my most recent blog post, which I can’t fix until tonight. Awesome.

    2. You should hear @momofali’s story about getting her job with Blogher after staying home. We spoke on a panel together at Dad 2.0 and it gave me great hope that sometimes, yes, there’s a path back. But I know, it’s hard.

  18. Two thoughts. Enough time has passed that there is a generation of women whose kids are leaving home and they are dealing with the fallout of the decision to leave the workforce. Some who stayed home with their kids have regret now in trying to go back and some who never left work have regret because the years flew by and there wasn’t enough time with kids.

    Which leads to my second thought, that so many of us are insecure what ever choice we made because both choices involve a lot of compromise that we feel every single day.

    At times I worked full time in an office, at times part time from home and at times not at all. The only mommy war I ever fought was with myself.

    1. “The only mommy war I ever fought was with myself.” From Grown and Flown. Truer words were never spoken.

      To me, Feminism has always simply meant “choice”, and by that I mean the freedom to make our own choices and not have our husbands or fathers make them for us. If that choice is to be Phyllis Schlafly or Bella Abzug, the fact that WE got to make that choice is feminism.

      Do I judge? Hell yeah, if I’m being honest, but I try not to. And short of blatant abuse, I realize that all moms love and want what’s best for their kids, period. So if you buy your kid a new BMW for his 16th birthday, I might say, “Well that’s a short trip to coke rehab” but I’ll realize you did it because you love him. And it has nothing to do with Mommy Wars.

      I work full time for less than my male counterparts, and would much prefer to work part time, or be at home full time, but if I’m disgruntled about it I have no one to blame but me, and I need to make the change if I’m unhappy about it and not be bitter because you get to stay home. Yay you if that’s what you want. Shame on me to bitch about it without DOING something about it.

      Love this post. Fruity drinks for everyone!

  19. I started to read the NY Mag piece and stopped when they summed up Rebecca in a paragraph calling her photos staged, etc. Clearly if anyone reads Rebecca regularly, you know that she is so not what they wrote in that piece.

    The whole Mommy Wars rhetoric serves to mask the real problems women face (and keeps us distracted). If we are fighting amongst ourselves, we can’t come together against the status quo.

    1. I wrote the same comment on the website about Rebecca. Absurd. She is about as fake and “mythic” as…well…she just isn’t. That’s someone who is judging a complete person based on her Instagram feed.

      This site is proof that we don’t have to fight amongst ourselves. Even if we have found ourselves on different paths. Thank you everyone for all the thoughtful comments.

  20. If motherhood has made me anything, it’s a lot less judgmental. And I don’t understand how it hasn’t done that for everyone. Why are we even having this conversation instead of focusing on policies (like maternity leave and everything Liz mentioned above) that would actually help everyone out? And, no, mommies can’t have it all. But neither can anyone else. Not even my DOG can have it all, for Christ’s sake.

  21. The whole thing feels so sorority-ish….because that is what it is.

    Cliche or not, some women ever leave high school and continue to judge and nitpick at other women’s self esteem just to feel comfortable in their own damn skin.

    As a woman who has been on all 3 sides of the coin – working, stay at home, and trying to re-enter – none of which are easy and above all, no matter what I was just trying to do what was right, what made me happy (sue me), and I loved my kids every step of the way. Period.

    I say what my mom always told me – if your friends are not being nice,get new friends. That is the way I feel about these judging women.

  22. First, thanks for mentioning me in this truly fabulous piece. I’m honored.

    Second, the only way that this Mommy Wars myth gains traction is if we let it. I, for one, don’t want to give HLN or certainly NY Rag-azine any encouragement to – not exploit the situation — but make it the hell up.

    There are myriad ways we can support each other – making it a point to get to know the full time working mom at school; making it a point to listen – really listen – to what the stay at home mom has to say.

    And mostly, not buying magazines that feature misogynistic articles masquerading as feminist rhetoric.

    True feminism is being true to yourself. Not beating out someone else for the Best Feminist title.

  23. Liz, this post was 1000 times more insightful and thought provoking than that dreck at NYMag. Thank you for writing it!

  24. I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it again, WHAT A FORCE we could be if we quit judging each other and ALL banded together. WOAH.

    Excellent post.

  25. Quite incidental, there is another blog post today that touched on who we use word “gay” inappropriately, and how it has to be reminded, over and over, to our kids, that “gay” is not to be used in demeaning way. Within that post there was a video that mentioned difference between tolerance (your school will allow you to bring same-sex partner to prom) and acceptance (will your classmates snicker behind your back when you do so).

    And than it dawned on me: if I replace “gay” with “SAHM” or momy-blogger (I’m not trying to diminish the problems gays face, absolutely not) the story plays the same: somebody somewhere is using those titles in demeaning way, implying it is “less-than”. Too many people are trying to nit-pick the differences and use them to “exclude”. If we continue down this path, we can get into outright prejudice and discrimination. Like not having many job prospects upon returning from mat leave is not hard enough, we pile more social barriers.

    We need to spend time legislating tolerance (making sure we have laws to back up PARENTS, mothers included) and spreading acceptance (by giving example to our kids and trusting humans in general; by not accepting single-sided corporate culture; by not “outdoing” one another in blog-comments). Going step beyond “I don’t care what are HER/HIS choices” – into – “I acknowledge HER/HIS choices and will trust HER/HIM to take care of my kid for a day” is what is going to diffuse the cat-fights. Then media-mongering will have no ground to grow on.

  26. The number one enemy of childcare is capitalism. There, I’ve said it. Letting either parent off for any period of time is going to cost the company money. Subsidizing childcare or providing it on-site is going to cost the company money. And in a capitalist society, we don’t want to cost the government money either, because that would raise our taxes, so heaven forbid we subsidize childcare or preschool on a national level.

    Until we can admit that we need to make exceptions to the “money is always the deciding factor” mentality of our capitalist culture, I don’t know how any of this will change. I’ve grown very disenchanted with pure unmitigated capitalism in the past ten years because it causes people (corporations are people — they are run by PEOPLE) to make decisions that make no sense for employees, only for stockholders. It’s causing us all to run around like crazy people — chained to our smartphones at one end of the food chain and losing our jobs if we miss work because of a sick child at the other end.

    I’m just really frustrated. I’d like to see companies focus on developing employees by making their lives less stressful so they can focus on their jobs when they are at work. That can play out in any number of ways for employees who are on the cusp of retirement, dealing with their own or their family’s health concerns, caring for an aging parent, caring for young children, seeking opportunities to travel, what have you. The cost to train a new employee is sky-high, but because it falls into a different area of the budget, for some reason that is less crucial to the bottom line than subsidizing childcare to keep the amazing employee who already possesses a decade of institutional knowledge.

    This turned into a post, but it’s been stuck in my craw for a decade. Great points, Liz, as always.

    1. You’ve said it, and many of us are thinking it. Thank you for saying it out loud. We are zooming into 21st century still holding stiff to 19 century workplace and profit model. Likely on collision course.

    2. You are right about the money factor in allowing working parents the flexibility to be good working parents. The only way we’re going to put our “family values” rhetoric where our mouths are is through legislation. European countries allow paid family leave and healthcare — our politicians sniff that those policies are “socialist” — but somehow, there are plenty of successful capitalist ventures in countries like Germany and Sweden despite the higher taxes and stronger social safety net. I was never all that political until I became a mother. Now, I just hope we make better progress before I become a grandmother.

  27. Yes, yes, yes!!!! Thanks, Liz, for exposing how media-driven this whole war is. Last year there was a study released that touted the finding that “28% of women fear their mate is a better parent.”


    What woman wouldn’t welcome a truly capable mate? I can think of nothing better. Yet the media pitted men against women with their choice of this one verb.

    1. That’s like parents who “fear” their children will be better off than they were.

      Weird stuff. Thank you for that.

  28. I can’t believe how judgmental that article is, and you are 100% right. Let’s help each other, not sit around criticizing our choices. Now I’m having a whiskey.

  29. Whenever I read about this topic, I always think about Debra Winger’s character in “Terms of Endearment”. There’s a scene when se goes to NYC to visit her best friend and all the women judge and criticize her for being a SAHM. That movie is 30 years old, and that scene is still relevant and real today, and all I can think is that is such a shame.

    I’m married with a son and daughter. I’m the cook, meal planner, and grocery getter. I buy my own clothes. I’m the dad can, too, and not just to sports.

    I also teach elementary school. I’m around moms and professional women a lot. I see this judgment play out every day. It makes me both sad and angry.

    Thanks for writing this to help move the discussion beyond the BS, which doesn’t serve women well, or them men who share their lives with them.

  30. Thank you for writing this post! It’s important for the community to have an open dialog that’s positive about women’s choice to stay at home or go back to work.

    I love the point you made early on about Kelly and how the choice she made was the best one for her family. Each family has to have an honest conversation about what can/will work for them. I’m about to have my first child and while I always thought I’d stay at home, my circumstances don’t permit that option right now. I know I’m not alone. I also completely understand why a woman would want to go back to work. In the end, we have to make the choice that’s best for us.

  31. YES! And reading the comments YES! I feel like I’ve been saying this stuff for years- since, oh I don’t know, becoming a mother. However it wasn’t until the last year or so that I really saw the so-called “mommy wars” at work. The us against them SAHM vs. Working Mom nastiness and it was always done by the same type of person- like Manic Mommies Kristin said- she had better things to focus on – these people don’t. They spend their time regurgitating this information and feeling superior over choices they are actually very unsure of. All it is is bred by insecurity.
    Thank goodness I don’t have that kind of time.

  32. It seems to me that the more the (patriarchal) mainstream media has a vested interest in engendering conflict between women. The more women fight between themselves the less they are able to collectively demand change in society. I am in the UK where we have 12 months maternity leave, 9 months of it paid, and all carers have the right to request flexible working including part time. The more women who work outside the home the harder it is for sides to be chosen. I work 2.5 days a week to fit around school pick ups, am I a SAHM or a WOHM, and tbh why would I or anyone else care? We are all doing the best we can for our families in the way we know how. Let’s reject this media hoo har and focus on our commonalities and shared causes.

    1. Hm…the conspiracy theorist in me would love to buy this but not sure. I don’t think that the writer who penned the piece has any sort of vested interest in staving change in society. I just think that her editors know that conflict between anyone on any controversial subject is good for sales, traffic, page views, ad sales.

      Not that certain powers-that-be in DC aren’t hoping every day that the demands for these social programs don’t make it past the pages of blogs and Mother Jones…

  33. “if you want to put an end to the mommy wars it comes down to being secure in your own choices. When you are at peace with yourself, you are at peace with those actions of others that don’t actually affect you”


    The whole “mommy wars” thing hardly applies anymore, what with so many people flex-timing, working from home, working part-time, sharing the home/family parenting responsibilities…we parents are doing a whole spectrum of things, so there really isn’t a “side” to join.

    Although, if there was one, I’d like to be on the side that supports paid parental leave, please.

  34. Liz, you rock. I’ve been reading for years and years and have only commented one or two times, but you are amazing and are such a strong and passionate voice for all women. I’ve learned so much from you about being more open minded, less judgemental and just more accepting of people’s different choices. Whether it is in Ethopia or America, being an advocate for all women, children and families helps us all. Thank you for such a great message. Also, I am thrilled that your mom is okay and healthy, and she rocks too! I was also very sad to read about you and Nate, but thank you for your honesty and sharing with your readers. Best wishes that you, Nate and the girls will all be happier and in a better place moving forward.

    1. Thank you so so much for this Heather. That means so much to me. I’m so glad you came out of the woodwork–and thanks for reading.

  35. Maybe it’s just me, but I wasn’t even sure where the article was going, or where it ended up. Was it supposed to be a satire of a “mommy wars” article? I haven’t seen this point made online, so maybe it’s just me who had that takeaway. But, I mean, “devoted to his cuteness”? “How delicious might our weeknight dinners be, how straight the part in our daughter’s hair…” It felt like a jab at stay-at-home mothers to me, not the other way around. Seriously, was it just me?

    1. It was definitely not just you–the article itself was kind of rambling and didn’t seem to have a cohesive narrative, quite honestly.

  36. I did read your post but one thing really stood out to me and that was parental leave.
    I couldn’t find a petition for paternity and maternity leave on the White House site, but I would sign one if I found one. I might just have to start one myself 🙂 After reading the Huffington Post article it is a shame we do not care for our parents like they do in other countries and mandate pay for leave. I kinda thought other countries were kinder about leave but I just didn’t know the figures. That is absolutely astonishing to me! Google has the right idea by extending their maternity leave to 5 months paid leave, which I believe only helps them and would help other companies too. Mothers would be less likely to leave their workplace after their child arrives and would continue to work. I know that at least the first 6 months were critical to me.
    Thank you for discussing this and posting the chart/article. I think more people should be outraged and want these types of changes that benefit our people.

  37. I think the Mommy Wars – battle…skirmish…kerfuffle…is never ending and is brought up time and time again for two – well, three – reasons:

    1. I think most new moms go into motherhood feeling completely over-whelmed, trying to figure out what kind of mom they are/will be, knowing that there are a lot of venues for judgment out there about what kinds of moms they should be (everything from Internet to mainstream media to sit coms to their own parents to the lady in line at the grocery store), and they naturally want to get it right. However, what is right? And you ask questions and read and go out searching and you begin to have the debate within yourself first. But it’s such a responsibility, raising another human. You hear how harshly parents are judged for not doing their job right based on everything from “That Johnny won’t share at preschool” to “Those two kids took guns and shot up the school.” And the question to both asked with equal amounts of societal anger is “Where were the parents?”

    Raising humans is a BIG DEAL. And so, yeah, we have a lot invested in doing it right. And there’s a lot of insecurity involved, and being judged on our own insecurities leads to a lot of defensiveness. So, there’s all that.

    2. After a while, most parents of older kids develop their own style that works, know it works for their family and their kids, and so bow out completely from Mommy Wars because they’ve sort of “grown out” of them. It doesn’t apply to them anymore because they’re in their groove and sort of ignore the hub-bub as something new parents need to soldier through.

    What I think we need is fewer parents bowing out and not saying, “This doesn’t apply to me anymore. My kids are older/out of the house. I’m set/confident in my ways.” Instead, THESE are the parents who need to jump back in as diplomats and say, “What you are doing that is different is hard its own way, easy in its own way, but no matter what, it will work for you. You will learn to evolve and find a way. You do not need to judge yourself against what others are doing. You will find your confidence without knocking down other’s choices.”

    3. Pushing buttons and tossing out this issue again and again to the feeding frenzy of insecure new parents sells advertising space. Unless those of us who do feel confident and say, “I don’t pay attention or judge anymore” join in, fight for ALL sides AGAINST the media, stick up for those whose choices are different than ours were *even when they are hostile to our position* then…well…here we go again.

    1. Here’s what I wrote during the last brouhaha.

      And I’ll say this: parenting issues can NOT become partisan politics. We can NO be pulled into that game. Every woman’s choice must be supported equally and without animosity. To get dragged into partisan politics – no matter how much the politicians themselves are doing it – is to become a pawn in one more game. The answer always needs to be: I support your definition of “parent’s work” and your choices. To get dragged into “who is working harder” and who deserves resources more will kill all this again and again. We are all working hard. We all deserve equal access to services: the mom in the mansion and the mom working 9-5. One type of mother can’t be seen as more worthy or valid in any way, or else all mothers suffer.

  38. I work for a big insurance company from home and have seen my manager twice in two years. While I love not fitting into a stay-at-home-mom or a work-outside-the-home-mom definition (and honestly I feel much more like the former) I have so much empathy for all the parents trying to find the right job, schedule, childcare, etc. Until I landed this job, those things were ALWAYS on my mind. Resources like free pre-K and paid maternity leave would strengthen our communities so much.

  39. I am the stay-at-home-turned-work-at-home mom who, for 10 years, ran “Please Take My Children to Work Day,” a slightly tongue-in-cheek holiday for at-home moms. Let me tell you: That holiday pissed people off, even when I asked if low-lying vegetation should feel dissed by Arbor Day.

    After being chased around the Internet by an angry mob of moms (which landed me on The Today Show– thank you, mean moms!), I decided the following:

    What other people think of me is none of my business.

    It’s less exhausting, and I don’t have to mop the floor for the camera crew.

  40. I’m the majority breadwinner in our family with a co-parent/husband who contributes to every part of the functioning of our family. Those two facts create the reality in which I live: my job is essential to our family’s livelihood (and my general well being), and our shared workload makes me feel that I can “have” not “it all” (isn’t that relative?), but pretty much all that I feel I need and sanity and satisfaction too (with moments in between, of course). I’m a forty-two year-old high school vice principal who’s been in her job seven years, when most would say it’s time to move on up to principal. But I’m not at a place where I feel I can give more to my job and less to my family, and now I’m pregnant with our third and staying the course in a job where I feel useful and influential and rewarded.

    When we feel resentment toward any other kind of parent or way of doing family, it’s generally a sign we’re making choices in our lives that don’t fully satisfy us or about which we don’t feel confident. Media have a way of ferreting out those feelings or manufacturing examples. Whatever.

    I consider it my job as a member of this woman-mother-parent worldwide community to honor and respect all the paths others choose to tend to their families and themselves in the best ways they know how, and to listen to those close to me struggling to find a semblance of balance.

    Many of us need encouragement to be brave, chase a dream, ask for more, try something new, pause, jump off the teack, or, as in my case, defy others’ expectations and follow heart and gut.

    Let’s read and write more articles about that.

  41. I didn’t get through the whole article (WAHM meets 3 kids meets short attention span), but one of my first thoughts when reading were about how the reporter seemed to be spinning Kelly’s situation in a certain light. Not that she doesn’t do any of those things, and more power to her, but they made it SOUND so …saccharine? Like she was a giggly little wife servant in Chucks. Off to read the rest now.

  42. Mothers are often faced with a variety of battles and tests each day. Let’s hope that they do not make their jobs more difficult by declaring war among each other.

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