Many years ago, a childless friend and I were discussing another friend’s kids. As childless people are prone to delusions about the realities of parenthood, she said that this friend’s kids were unruly because they didn’t get enough attention from their working mom. No mention of dad. My response was a very lame “Really?” My mom worked and she is great but I didn’t have a strong opinion on the subject at the time; parenthood seemed so far away. I had no idea that the so-called “Mommy Wars” was a-brewing!
Another time, my husband’s colleague said that his wife had quit her job to stay home and that this was best for all kids. We were still pre-kids but I’m proud to say that my husband responded by saying that you can’t generalize working mothers. He had a working mom and also knew I planned to keep working once we had kids.
Now that I’m a working mom, I think back to those two conversations and have a stronger reaction. I still believe the “Mommy Wars” (working vs. stay-at-home moms) are more hype than reality. People just have time or energy to judge others that often. At the same time, I was curious to find out if working moms are really judged or pitied by those who stay home.
Recently, I took some vacation time to attend a Toddler/Parenting class with my younger one. He’s shy and needs the social interaction. It was a weekday morning so I only needed to take a partial work day off. I enjoyed having that extra bonding time and shortened work week!
A part of me had this crazy idea: I could pretend to be a Stay-at-home mom and find out what other SAH-moms really think of working mothers. Are you ready to find out…..?
Can you handle the truth?
Find out next Wednesday….
No, seriously. I didn’t pretend to be a SAH-mom and I didn’t try to set up attacks by denigrating working moms first to get a reaction. There were at least 2 other women who were planning to return to work after some years off. All the other people I spoke with were either full-time stay-at-home moms or grandparents. Note: I live in a middle-class neighborhood so there weren’t any nannies at the class.
A few of the moms were a bit incredulous that I, a working mom, had taken my vacation time to do this toddler play class. This probably took me out of the line of fire IF any of them were prone to attacks on working moms.
I was sort of the stereotypical working mom when it came to scrapbooking. It’s not that I don’t cherish memories of my kid(s) but I am not crafty or creative. I shamelessly copied other’s mom’s scrapbooking ideas.
I did spend a little more time playing or watching my kid than some other moms. However, I wanted him to play with other kids so I made sure not to hover too much. I didn’t judge the other moms at all for using this time for adult conversation. After all they’re home with their kids all day so they didn’t really need this extra time.
I panicked when it was my turn to bring snacks…
My kid was a bit unruly and grabbed food off other kids’ plates. I wonder if his behavior reflected badly on me. If it did, I was oblivious to any mean stares.
The good news is that I had an easy time talking with these women. Many were very nice, smart and interesting. I didn’t really feel a division at all.
I plan to sign up for more classes in the fall!
By the way, I would love to read a real undercover piece from a journalist who pretends to be a SAH-mom (and vice versa). Would socio-economic levels make a difference? Would they find out the “Mommy Wars” is merely hype. Or would they discover a big divide?