Sunday, July 15, 2007

The great mom debate

This last week I had occasion to have three episodes of why women who work are cheating their kids and are the downfall of society thrown up in front of me. By the time I came across the third, which albeit wasn't directed at me, I had enough and let a little steam rise. (You know who you are - sorry!) So here I am to offer my response to a couple of those comments this week.

One of the most heated, divisive debates is among moms. Whether it is best to stay at home, work inside the home (referring to holding down a job while staying at home, not to imply in any way that stay at home mom's aren't working) or work outside the home. It's a debate that I despise because, simple fact, we aren't all the same. What the women of my mom's generation and before did with the women's liberation movement was to enable future generations of women to have the choice on whether or not they would work outside the home.

Of course these days it isn't so much about having the choice to stay at home. There are many women out there who would choose to stay at home, but making ends meet on a single income is just impossible. But... social issues aside and so I don't delve into politics and turn this post into a boring pile of drivel, let's sidestep that issue (for now).

I am most of the time able to blow off the debates even though accusations that I am not raising my own children and use of the phrase "part time mom" sting. Some of my closest friends are stay at home moms. Never once have I thought of them as "lazy" or "uneducated". In fact, the opposite. They work their butts off harder than most people and many are very educated women who worry about (among other things) reentering the workforce someday.

The buzz words are obviously intended to hurt. I believe we are all moms who would balk at our children purposely hurting another child's feelings, yet for some reason it is ok for us to do it to each other? We teach our kids to get along, to resolve their issues, to stand in another's shoes, and not to live on assumptions. About time we practice what we preach.

I am going to offer somewhat of a solution because if I see another post of "this is the problem but I don't know what to do about it, just thought I would share" I might puke. First off, support each other. Realize that not everyone has the same choices and options available to them. Simply realize that we are all women who have to make choices and support the women you know in their roles.

Second, mentor young women and don't be afraid to talk about reality. Along my long academic road I had a few female professors, but never once did one broach the issue of the logistics of balancing family with a professional career. Not to mention the sheer fact that by the time you get an undergrad degree, an advanced degree, do any post-degree training and then start a job you will likely be in your early 30's minimum, with a ticking uterus and a boss that expects you to perform like a young professional eager to put everything you have learned into play during those last few years of "worryfree childbearing".

Communicate with young women so that when they enter the career world they know that it can be very hard finding balance, but also very rewarding. Communicate with young women so that maybe those who see themselves being stay at home moms don't feel as though getting all the letters behind their names is a prerequisite or that anyone thinks less of them for their choice not to or for their choice to take a break from their career paths. Communicate with young women so that they don't grow up disillusioned that being a superwoman is easy and that she is the only one out there struggling to do it all...

You know... bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let him forget that he is a man... hmmm... maybe it's that last part that maybe the crux that breaks the camels back. (KIDDING!)

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