>> 10.20.2009

The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
Ellery Queen

Last Wednesday, I watched a Dr. Phil episode that really rubbed me the wrong way. Now, I know that this show is for entertainment purposes only: let's watch the drama unfold and then listen to everyone applause as Dr. Phil states the obvious. [ For instance- and I quote- "Life Law #1: You either get it or you don't. Strategy: Become one of those who gets it." Uh... Wow. Thank you, Dr. Phil. I don't know what I would have done without you.]

However, everything about this particular episode had my skin crawling. First of all, the title was ridiculous; on the website, it is titled "Guilty Moms" but, on the actual show, what flashed on the screen after every commercial break was "Stay-At-Home Moms vs. Working Moms." (They officially labeled the show otherwise because there has already been a show with this title and repetition would just be shameful.)

Verses? Really? Do we honestly need something else to pit women against each other? The operative word here should be MOMS and motherhood should be something that brings women together, not tears them apart.

Furthermore, any woman who had a balanced, sensible approach to the subject was given very little face time. Instead the show was dedicated to listening to unreasonable woman state unreasonable opinions and put down anyone who disagreed with them. The entire concept puts women in a bad light- Oh, here they go again: being petty and caddy and bitching at each other. We all know how woman are.

So, in general I found the show to be distasteful.. and on a personal level, it bothered me that the entire discussion seemed to be slanted in favor of working moms.

There was an audience debate in which the chosen stay-at-home mothers kept making polarizing comments that made them seem ignorant and stubborn and, in my opinion, did not accurately reflect the feelings of most stay-at-home moms. I think most women realize that motherhood is one of the most challenging things a woman can be faced with and, regardless of their various parenting philosophies, they want to be supportive of each other. Listening to these women criticize each other was painful. The stay-at-home moms also kept saying things like, "I am an educated woman," "Our lives aren't glamorous but we do it anyway," and, "I made this decision because I felt it was best for my family even though I COULD have gotten a job." These comments are basically conceding that this is somehow an inferior state of being for a woman. That by staying at home, you are sacrificing some part of yourself to do what is best for your kids. But if that is the case, I am not sure that mom would be doing her children a favor... because she would not be happy. And kids feel that kind of thing.

I am just going to take a moment to come out of the closet here: I... am domestic. In every way. Nothing makes me happier than cooking and cleaning and taking care of my family. I do not think I will ever find a job that fulfills me in this way. Sometimes, I watch old movies and I know I was born in the wrong era. It is just who I am. I will never feel like I am making a sacrifice. I will never feel like I have to defend my decision. It is my bliss.

I sometimes think some women that feel this way are afraid to say these sorts of things. So many women had to fight so hard for our rights. By admitting that you would be perfectly happy with a Hoover and a string of pearls- it can make you feel like a traitor. I took a Feminist Theory class a couple of semesters ago and I admitted these things to my professor in an attempt to make a point. She was an amazing teacher and I really enjoyed the class but her response was disturbing. She looked at me with pity, shook her head sadly, and told me I had been brainwashed by male society. There was no way I could just... want these things.
So these women on the show set themselves up to be martyrs. Which, in turn, forced them to label working moms as selfish. It was all very hurtful and unnecessary.

The next two segments were dedicated to talking to successful working mothers and helping a soon-to-be working mother get over her guilt of having to leave her child in someone else's care. Statistics about the superior cognitive development of kids in daycare were thrown about and stories of how working mothers have influenced their children in positive ways that stay-at-home moms can never hope to accomplish littered the rest of the show. However, this is silly because I don't think a woman is going to base her decision about whether or not to go back to work on any statistic [Oh, well, I was going to stay at home with little Timmy but.. studies show he would have better language skills, so off he goes.] Women make these decisions based on their desires, what they feel is best for their family, and on what they need to do to provide a stable, loving home for their children. The only purpose these studies have is to make a mother feel better about a decision she has already made, but at what cost? Making another women feel insecure?

Now...just to make things clear: I have absolutely NO problem with working moms. I was raised by an amazing one who showed me you can have everything you want out of life as long as you are willing to work for it and who balanced family and career in the most admirable way. In fact, she still looks at me in utter disbelief when I talk about not wanting to work outside the home. It is just such a foreign concept to her. When my propensity toward the domestic showed up (at a very early age), her immediate response was to figure out what sort of career that made me a good match for. Because of this, it took me until my third year of college to come to terms with the fact that I do not want a career at all. However, this is just who I am; I want to stay home with my family. Ryan and I are poor- but we are used to being poor and we live within our means. This will allow me to work part-time and since I am a nanny, I will be able to bring Liam with me to work. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I want to do with my life at this point. It is as much for me as for Liam... so maybe I am the selfish one!

I do not believe children are harmed in any way by not having a stay-at-home mom. I am a firm believer, as I have said NUMEROUS times, that as long as you are making decision based out of love for your child, you can do little harm. If your career is fulfilling and makes you happy, I believe that it should be pursued by all means... because you count too! And if you need to work to provide for your family then you should feel proud that you are able to give your child a stable home. As long as you are doing what you feel is best for you and what is best for your family, then you are doing the right thing. We have no business making judgements about other people's lives.

There are pros and cons to every decision we make. There is always a trade-off and you really cannot have it all. I just do not see why this has to be such a heated issue. Do we really need something else to get people at each other's throats? We are all just people.. doing the best that we can. How are we going to teach our children tolerance and acceptance of others when we are not being tolerate or accepting ourselves?

*Ahem* Getting off my soapbox now.

I would love to hear what you all have to say- in a tolerant, accepting manner, of course.


karmapearl October 21, 2009 at 12:23 PM  

I am completely with you. There's nothing wrong with wanting a career - even with a family and some women, like me, have no other choice. I don't have a choice to not work. I have the steady income, I have the health insurance, I HAVE to work at this point in our lives. I would give my left pinkie to be able to be a stay-at-home mommy to be, and a SAHM when Nellie gets here but it's not in the cards for us right now.

I realized a while back that I, too, have no desire to have a career. I want to make being a mom my career, because it is a noble career that often gets looked over. I want to be there for my baby's milestones; I want to be there when my kids leave for school and when they come home. I agree with you in saying there is no other job out there that holds that desire for me like being a full-time, SAHM.

I think SAHM's get a bad wrap and get labeled as "lazy", "uneducated", or "ignorant". I think it's crap. Being a full time mom IS A JOB. I just get so mad when other women look down on women like us who desire to stay home with our kids, like we just gave up or something.

Anyway, that long winded rant was to say I agree with you.

Toni October 21, 2009 at 4:57 PM  

I was made to be a juggler. I wish I could have it both ways, I really do, and I think deep down I try really hard to do it all, which, at times, causes alot of frustrations.

My undergrad was pretty much gotten by going to school when my oldest son was in school. I guess I was a in-school-stay-at-home-mom. I remember when I told Austin I was graduating he was like, "now what are you going to do?" He couldnt imagine me doing anything else other than going to school. :)

With my second I graduated with my B.S. while pregnant and stayed home with him til he was 8 to 9 months old. Thats when I went into child care so I didnt actually have to leave him but could still bring in a pay check.

With my third I took 16 weeks off from work and I was so torn over going back. However, I know I am called to work with children with disabilities. It's in my make-up, my core, my being. I'm not being proud here, I'm just saying I know in my heart a part of my purpose in life is to work with kids. And yet, I've been blessed with 3 wonderful children of my own.

And this is where the balancing comes in. I really would love to be able to stay at home every and all day. I'd have such a clean house and I'd cook almost constantly,. :) And yet I know somewhere in my heart there would be a small piece of my existance that would be missing.

Right now I am where I am to be and really, just like what you've said this whole time, its being a mom. I'm always a mom. Always first and foremost and I've so enjoyed meeting other moms and sharing in that bond like you also mentioned.

I, too, wish it was a different era at times when a hubby could make enough to support a family, but its changed and we must change, too. I guess the real thing is supporting one anther in whatever decision is made.

Julia October 22, 2009 at 8:28 AM  

My sister had a feminist teacher who required them to write a paper on feminism. She feels a womens place is in the home if possible and had no idea what to write about. I helped her and she got an A. Her paper was about feminists against the traditional women. quoteing from the paper "feminism is about womens rights and the freedom to choose and if I as a women choose to stay home I should not be critisized by said feminists"

Now I am going to be a full time working mom. I will be gone for at least 10 hours a day. It breaks my heart and I wish I did not have to. Yes it is possible to live the simple life and have a family with one income, but past choices before baby requires that I work.

My best friend works full time and LOVES it she says she woulnd never want to be a stay at home mom.

I completely agree with you about the stay. There is no reason to put one mom against another. Some work by choice, and some work out of need.
Noone should be able to tell a mother that it is possible for only one in the family to work because sometimes its not. Whether for emotional reasons or financial reasons. Noone can truly know anothers situation

Julia October 22, 2009 at 9:21 AM  

I should specify when I said this "She feels a womens place is in the home if possible and had no idea what to write about" She means my sister not the teacher

Becky,  November 24, 2009 at 1:57 PM  

Michelle, You hit the nail right on the head. We are all moms first and stay-at-home or working-outside-the-home second. The true brainwashing comes from television producers, magazine editors and self-help gurus that tell us we have to justify our choices. They are just trying to us sell a bill of goods. It's time that we stopped the in-fighting and stood up for ourselves and our sisters, no matter what their choices.

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