Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why don't moms stop judging each other? #notmywar

 If there is something I really do not understand it is the judging that goes back and forth among women, and particularly, among moms. This episode brings you the Stay-At-Home versus Working-Mom war of snide comments. Ever since Yu was born, I have sporadically been on the receiving end of such comments.

One of the first friends that visited me, someone I took a class with told me, as I listened in shock:

"Well, it is better for you and for the baby if you work as soon as possible. It is good for your peace of mind and the best for the baby. Also,  the baby will get his germs out of the system earlier."

The key word here being better, because I believe there is no better, I believe there are particular solutions that work for each family and specific situation. Also, was my friend trying to convince herrself of her choice? As for the germs part, yes and no, either she gets them now, or she gets them later. We are not living in a bubble. We go to playgroups, to the library, to swimming class, music class, the health center. We take tramways and buses and walk. The germs are everywhere. She knows them (it is one cold after the other). Also, it's not like I haven't been looking for a job. It's not so easy to get a job, any job. And I do not necessarily believe in working for the sake of working. (And I am very aware we are very lucky / privileged to be able to live on one salary).

Then, there is also the classic:

"I went back to work because I needed to use my brain. Don't you miss the adult conversation? I don't know how you do it, I was not able to spend the day oohing and aahing and singing nursery rhymes". 

No, really? I did not get a brain transplant when Yu was born and I certainly did not stop being a bit of a smart ass. I like having opinions and if we are being all honest here sometimes I have opinions on subjects I have not fully researched and know barely nothing of. I can talk about all kinds of subjects. Even with friends who also happen to be moms the kids are not our only conversation topic. I did not lose my interests in becoming a mom. Sure, carving time out to do things like reading is hard, but it is about making the things you want a priority (and sometimes the dishes suffer while they wait to be washed). Also, when I worked at an office we did not exactly have super interesting adult conversations where we discussed foreign affairs and climate change and strategies for peace in the Middle East. We talked about birthdays, and weekends and holiday plans and life. Also, I don't spend my day oh-ing and ah-ing (though I do sing a lot). I read to the baby, I talk to her about what we are doing, where we are going, I explain things to her and tell her little stories. I do not treat her like she is stupid (Have you seen Dora the Explorer? "-This is a backpack. In the backpack we keep our pencils-". Wow. Unless this programs were designed for alien children who have never seen a backpack in real life I really do not get why babies and small children are referred to in such a condescending tone, as if somehow they were less capable of understanding how and what things are by experiencing them).

And then there is the implication that women who choose to stay at home will not be respected by their kids because they are not working. Wait what? I was taught to respect my parents, not to be all religious here but  respecting your parents is one of the 10 biblical commandments. That is how far in time the tradition of respecting your parents goes back. I hope to be the best version of myself, to be the best model for her and show her the world as I know it, to make possible her development in the best possible way and to let her be her own person. I hope one day she will respect me for it, for the things we do for her. Not because of my professional achievements, whatever great, at least not only, and not mainly.

On the other side of the spectrum you hear a lot that line about how "it is selfish if a mom continues to pursue her professional interests ". And that is also unfair. I can imagine it is always going to be hard to leave your children for the day, be it at daycare or at school. What is true is that children need love and care, and that taking care of children used to be a communal endeavour (where aunts, grandmas and other family or tribe members were involved). The notion of a nuclear, closed family unit where the woman does most of the work is a very new and occidental one.

Not everyone has the privilege to live on one income. Not everyone who would like to work can afford daycare. There are as many situations as there are families and we are all different people. Some can feel "trapped" staying at home, others might thrive and flourish. Some others might not have a choice. The rainbow has many colors and shades and nuances.

Maybe instead of judging each other and bashing each other down we should start asking more questions, like this one from Renegade Mothering: "What would happen if we stopped looking at individual choices of mothers and began focusing on the social and cultural conditions underlying those “choices?”.  (But really, read the whole article)

There is no better. Finding balance is hard, and there are no perfect solutions either. We are all juggling many balls, but we are all trying to do the best possible choice within our possibilities. And that choice can be different for all of us and that is just fine.


  1. Replies
    1. :) Thanks... this subjects are hard, but we really are all in this together, all doing our best. And choices have to be made, and compromises are not easy.

  2. Ok first of all. LOVE the picture of you and her together.

    Secondly, yes. It's funny because I literally just published a post from the other side. I feel like ALL of my friends don't work and scoff at me for wanting to go back. I honestly don't understand why we pushed so hard for Feminism and Power and the ability to Choose and then we just bash each other and ourselves for not "doing it right?" I feel like we keep putting ourselves into boxes. I never ever felt so strongly about the way women treat each other/themselves and the way society treats women until becoming a mother. We really and truly have it tough.

    Anyhow. Just saying I agree. Keep doing what you're doing :)

    1. Thanks! Mark took it and I thought it was such a sweet moment.

      I have to email you... it is so difficult the judging from all the sides. And yeah, why do we have to fight if the beauty is that we can choose. And we are all different so it is natural that we all want different needs and have different ways of doing things. And there is no "right" way, with nothing... But yes it is very difficult, because so long as the society and the way it values child caring doesn't change we are going to have to be losing something somewhere... compromising.


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