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My New Best Friend

I was redirected to the YouTube channel, Mompetition, from Lenore Skenazy’s excellent blog Freerangekids.  The creator of Mompetition, a cancer researcher and helicopter mom skeptic, and I seem to have a lot in common.  Check it out:

Now, I have made no secret of my dislike of SAHMs.  Some of our former frontpagers, who incidentally were NOT SAHMs, have used this as an excuse to take their dishes and go away.  But I don’t think I’ve made it clear what it is I dislike about them.  So, let me explain, because I suspect that it’s something the forces of evil will use to divide women in the upcoming elections.

First, I love my kids but I would go stark raving bat $#@^ crazy if I had to spend the majority of time with the moms depicted in mompetition’s videos.  Unfortunately, the suburbs where I live is chock full of these women.  They never let their kids outside, they organize their kids’ friends, sports events and bowel movements down to the second and they have the nerve to impose their religious views on the rest of us.

Second, I have no problem with women who choose to stay home with their kids.  If that’s what you want to do and you can afford to do it and you possess the mothering skills of Mary Poppins, go right ahead.  Don’t let us stop you.  But don’t ask for any special recognition of your “sacrifice”.  When you use that word, you reveal more about your relationship to your children than you probably intended.  They’re your *children*, not a burden that you have given up your life to raise.  More than that though is the attitude that those of us who work have somehow chosen the low road.  We might cure cancer but we will never be saints, revered by our families and churches for denying everything about ourselves in order to raise these future humanitarians.

Let’s clear that up that misconception. We working moms put in a full day and then come home and do all the parenting too.  We volunteer at school, set up science experiments at school science fairs, make smoked salmon tea sandwiches, decoratively cut into perfect crustless triangles for Victorian History Week Lunch and go on two day field trips with a bunch of eighth graders to a Y camp in early March when the temperature plunged below freezing and where (at least) one of the chaperone’s had forgotten her thermal underwear.  In other words, we do everything SAHMs do and then some.

But more than that, the pressure on women (and yes, there is all kinds of pressure on women) to give themselves up for the sake of their children, is rooted in the myth of the golden era of domesticity of post WWII when women were more or less forced back to the home and the household economics of the middle class rose. (And anyone who has watched Mad Men or read Betty Friedan knows how well that worked out for some women who were never meant to be stay at home mothers) There’s some kind of correlation-causation error related to the nostalgia of the era, my parents’ generation, that overlooks the fact that historically, the SAHM has been very, very unusual for the human species.  Most mothers work or have worked since the dawn of time.  They sometimes took their kids with them.  Children have had to grow up fast and go to work themselves.  Some bourgeoise women had wet nurses so they could spend their time at leisure.  The SAHM who was there when you came home to give you cookies and milk was a statistical blip on the historical record.  Most mothers throughout history did not spend every minute of their day obsessing about whether they were spending enough time with their kids.  There were survival things to do and everyone had to help out.

So, this notion that good women stay home with their children while less than good women stick their kids in day care and go to work is a recent construct.

One thing is for sure, people like Sarah Palin will glom onto the mommy wars like there’s no tomorrow.  Older women my mom’s age are heavily indoctrinated and are venerated by the FOX news crew for being “the good mothers”.  If women’s votes are crucial to the next election, and I believe they will be, now is not a good time to be at each other’s throats.  But I am not going to jump on the conservative mothering bandwagon and give SAHMs an extra special place in the pantheon of mothers.  If I did that, I would immediately be complicit in slapping working mothers with the label of inferior mommies.  Yes, Stay at Home Moms, that is what you are doing whether you are aware of it or not.

And I’m not going to go along with it.  Don’t ask for a special recognition award.  If you need to be recognized for giving up your career to raise your kids, then you need to sit down and have a conversation with yourself and determine whether you did that of your own free will.  If you did, fine.  Then you don’t need a medal.  You should be happy with your decision.  If you didn’t, don’t get mad at me because I don’t kiss your ass to validate your choice.  Going against the tide of conformity is hard.  It can make you unpopular with your family, community and peers.  But if you are true to yourself, it has its own rewards for yourself and your kids.  I feel sorry for women who didn’t feel they had that choice but that doesn’t mean they have the right to resent and condemn the rest of us.  How does that move women’s issues to the forefront if we’re ready to go to war over some societally imposed pressure to sacrifice ourselves?  Can it bring back our younger days?  Change the past?  Does it make it easier for our daughters and granddaughters to do what’s right for themselves as person’s in their own right?  It’s never too late to decide that you won’t subject another woman to the pressures that were imposed on you.

We all make decisions that take our lives in different directions.  But fighting over who is the best mother is something the masters of the universe take great delight in stirring up.  I won’t be part of it.  On this blog, I will make sure that no mother is held in greater esteem than any other.  Mothering is hard enough without having someone we don’t even know tell us how to do it.

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93 Responses

  1. One thing is for sure, people like Sarah Palin will glom onto the mommy wars like there’s no tomorrow.

    Please don’t bully me but Sarah Palin is not a SAHM

    • Myiq, you know as well as I do that conservative politics is chock full of contradictions and hypocrisy. Remember Vitter and his diaper fetish? Wrong guy. Take Newt Gingrich. Wasn’t he one of the guys who jumped on the Clinton impeachment bandwagon while he was shtupping wife #4 before he had divorced wife #3? Phyllis Schlafly had a lot of nerve too, being that she was a working lawyer for most of her life.
      Trust me, Sarah already knows her demographic. She is going to praise these women to high heaven. She will debase herself at their feet and say, “I’m not worthy” and they will Eat. It. Up.
      All I’m saying is the correct response for the woman who wants to get ALL of the women’s votes is to say, “Back off and let me raise my kids the best way *I* see fit.”

  2. Thank heaven somebody is finally saying it! I worked and took a lot of heat for it 40 years ago. Yes, folks, that was 1970, and there were damn few of us out there. Now I see my daughter, a new mother, guilted by all this “attachment parenting” hogwash. What exactly were we doing for the lat 30-40 years that is so threatening that our daughters now have to be intimidated, laid off, and forced back to the 1950’s?

    Oh, and while I’m on the soapbox, none of us ever died from a bottle of baby formula!

    • It’s a wonder how we made it out of the neolithic age without baby monitors and strollers big enough for 4 year olds to ride comfortably.

      Your poor daughter. The pressure out there is intense. I’ve faced my share of it since I used to let Brooke play outside unsupervised. Eventually, she stopped doing it because there was no one outside to play with. The burbs are full of empty playgrounds.

      • Let’s not forget that women used to have more kids than they do today due to the lack of birth control and abortions.

      • In my moms’s generation, her and the siblings were locked out of the house all day to go play so their mom could get the housework in the pre labor-saving device days done.

        • Hey! Are we related? My mom used to do that to us.

        • My mom said that her mom used to do that with her and her four siblings. I guess they could come in to use the toilet but otherwise they were expected to stay outside until dinner and entertain themselves.
          My mom didn’t lock us out but she encouraged us very strongly to go outside and play.
          No one around here does that. It’s like that town in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang around here.

        • I was a child in the 60s, mo Mom didn’t lock us out but allowed us to go out and stay out all day. I’m glad to have grown up when I did. My kids had all the video games and cable TV they could want and they too chose to be outside all day. One of the Mom’s in the neighborhood was a helicopter Mom so I always knew they were safe.

          psst… I was sometimes a SAHM and I hope that all women will support and respect the choices that we each make. Women need to unite, not divide.

          • I would hope so too but until working moms get as much respect as SAHMs, I’m not holding my breath.

    • My mother fought that fight 40 years ago also, so women could have the choice to work in a job other than a teacher or nurse or SAHM. She caught heat for it every time we went to the supermarket.

      Without fail a woman would use me to open up the conversation and passive-aggressively tear into my mother.

      It happened so much my mother finally had to stop lying for these women. Here she is teaching her young daughter manners to navigate the world, and these women are walking up to strangers being rude for no reason. It didn’t make sense to me as a young child, so she finally let me in on the adult dynamics going on.

  3. Even back before we had prepared foods, “instant” dinners and all the modern labor-saving appliances in the home, moms worked outside the home.

    Then there were the homesteaders. Remember Old Yeller?

    Moms often stayed on the farm alone with the kids while Dads left between planting and harvest to find paying jobs.

  4. Re: Sarah Palin…I agree MYIQ. Neither is Giselle Bundchen. Where do these females get the right to lecture other women, and why is any woman in her right mind listening to them?

    • I don’t know. I never grokked that cult of women shit where women get together and talk about their menstrual cycles and their last labor horror stories. Sorry, ladies but that is BOOOOORRRRRRINNNNGG. Call me a freak. But I have been an observer of the phenomenon, sort of like an ethologist studying the societal habits of a new species of primate. And I think it is at the neighborhood level where the alpha females strictly enforce the rules of standard mothering behavior. They all up the ante on each other too. One mother won’t let her kid walk to the bustop, the other won’t let the kid walk to the end of the driveway without an escort while mother #3 never lets the kid out the door because *she* puts the kid in the car in the garage before driving to the busstop to hand over the child in a highly formalized chain of custody.
      It’s insane.

    • I remember when Phyllis Schlafly made a career of telling other women they should not have a career.

      Things have improved somewhat.

      It would be nice if we had the kind of laws they do in Europe that would allow new parents extra time off to spend with a new baby. Six to eight weeks is not a lot of time and it is harder to find care for children younger than 3 months.

      djmm

  5. Jacoby Ford just returned the opening kick-off for a TD. That’s the second time he’s done that this year.

    Too bad KC is winning and the Raiders will be eliminated from play-off contention.

    • How much time is left on the clock? I’ve seen KC lose at least 3 games in either overtime or the last 30 seconds in this season. You might still win it.

      HA! Just saw the final score. Nevermind.

  6. Great post, RD. I’m a non-mom (and intend to stay that way), but I do find the mommy wars exhausting and stupid. Stay at home if you want, but it IS a choice. And from a psych perspective, I don’t believe that there is evidence that it is ANY better for the kid. In fact, I have a suspicion that it is better for a kid to have a primary caregiver who also works, especially if that person is female. Getting past your infantile egocentrism is a necessary developmental step, and that’s harder when you genuinely ARE the center of the domestic universe.

    • I don’t see any evidence of it either. If staying home were so much better, wouldn’t you expect most of the daycare kids to have behavioral problems and do poorly in school and stuff? I just don’t see any evidence of that. But I *have* heard teachers remark at how the latest crop of kids seem to be extremely passive and uninterested in anything that is outside the ordinary. I suspect that has to do with crackdown on childhood that preceded 9/11 but accelerated tremendously afterwards. Brooke started kindergarten the week of 9/11. From what I can see, neither she or her class mates have had anything close to a normal childhood. They haven’t been left unsupervised for a second and every action down to their breathing has been regulated and monitored. Sucks to be a teenager these days.

  7. Here’s another of Mompetition’s videos. I have met women like the blonde. BTW, parents of truly gifted kids get zero sympathy from anyone. For awhile, Brooke was blacklisted from birthday parties of her other girl scout friends. I couldn’t figure it out until last year when I met one of the other parents at Brooke’s piano recital. Without any prompting on my part, the other mom told me sympathetically that Brooke was too “artsy” for the girl scout moms and she made them and their precious daughters uncomfortable. Yep, these are a real nice bunch of Christian suburban moms.

    • These are funny!!

      • But so damn accurate it’s spooky. I know parents like that: no candy, no TV, schedule their kids to an inch of their lives.
        They are creating helpless monsters, not self sufficient future adults. And they are relentless in their perpetuation of the culture of fear. They fear EVERYTHING. Food, nature, other people. Particularly other people.

        • I have SIBLINGS like this! Well. A sibling like this. But some of the others are pretty close.

          One of my sisters is the total opposite though. And those are some fun conversations!

        • Especially Happy Meals, cuz according to those Moms, it’s all McDonald’s fault for LURING their children into eating junk food by giving those kids toys.

          Bigtime Barf.

          MYOB, other Moms. I don’t need you lecturing me about occasional Happy Meals.

          Don’t need idiots like Michelle Obama publicy saying “We can’t just leave it to the parents”, either. I suspect she has no idea how many Moms she offended with that statement.

          • Yeah, who the hell does she think she is??
            The great majority of parents don’t need Michelle Obama to plan meals for them.
            And her kids are not babies, There’s no reason for Michelle to stay at home. I mean, she could be working a lot more at the White House than she does. What special advantage does she provide her kids now that they’re in school most of the day?

          • In MO’s case, I assume she isn’t ambitions or hard working. That’s why she settled for Barack.

            I’m still dubious that grilled chicken breast on a whole wheat bun and 3 hours of PE per week will fight childhood obesity.

          • How could you make fun of MO. Do you hate all mothers, or just the ones that care about their children? /snark

          • I don’t think that’s Michelle’s case. I suspect that she’s busy as all get out in the background and probably had a hand in that awful healthcare reform bill, seeing as she was in the hospital business before she became first lady.

            My problem with Michelle is she decided to make a big deal of becoming a stay at home mom in order to capture the suburban SAHM vote of women like the blonde in the video.
            Now, there are SAHM’s, like my mom was, and she was pretty good as moms go, what with her being a natural crafter, cook type person. And then there are SAHMs who are overachievers like we have here in central NJ. Many of these women went to college and got degrees or JDs and then, because all their friends were doing it, they decided to stay home. Yes, it is really, REALLY hard to work and parent. And if you have a demanding job, it’s almost impossible to do both without losing your mind. Those first five years are rough. So, I understand why some of them decided they needed to concentrate on one job at a time.
            But the problem is when they have time on their hands and where they were busy before planning and doing stuff, they now have to apply those same skills to their home lives. And they go a bit nuts with the demands they put on themselves to be the perfect mother. Which is fine, if you were the only one like that on the street. We had a woman like that on our street when we grew up. Her name was Mrs. Montgomery. She had 2 kids and she was patient zero in terms of helicopter parents. My mom was the Martha Stewart of the neighborhood but Mrs. Montgomery was the mother from hell. But there was only one of her in the neighborhood.
            Now, there are hundreds of Mrs. Montgomery’s and the way they have structured parenting affects everyone else as well. Their smothering, obsessive, hyperscheduling ways have put stress on the rest of us but because they are seen as perfect mothers, no one has the nerve to tell them to back the fuck off already.
            So, Michelle is targeting that demographic. Their kids are in school now but they’ve been out of the workforce for awhile now and they don’t have to go back because they don’t need the money. They feel it is their purpose in life to tell YOU how to raise YOUR kids.
            They probably don’t see anything wrong with Michelle telling parents that they don’t know what they’re doing.
            Sort of like this:

          • Is there such a thing as a Whole Foods mom?

          • Around here they call it Wegmans

    • I live in Seattle. This is like, 99% of moms here.

    • Jeebus, that’s scary and sad at the same time. And funny.

  8. Do you really think all stay at home moms are the same? Saying you dislike them all is no better than a SAHM saying she dislikes all moms who work. Let’s honor each other’s choices and try to support each other. I agree that the attitudes you talk about are not helpful, are divisive, and create unneeded pressure. But this post seems hostile to me, and I don’t think that helps.

    For the record, I work, though a non-traditional schedule since I teach privately, and have to work when people are available for lessons.

    • I think the reason I seem hostile is because whenever the subject comes up, the SAHMs come out of the woodwork, hijack threads and lord it over the rest of us. If we don’t acknowledge their sacrifice, they get all defensive and judgmental. And I just want to tell them to back off already.
      So, my question to you is do you have a sense of your own superiority because you stayed home or have a non-traditional schedule? Because if you do, then you’re contributing as much to the hostility as I am accused of doing and I suggest you lose the attitude. We working mothers are sick of being treated like second class parents. If not, then don’t take it personally as it doesn’t apply to you.

      • You’re just bitter

        {{ducks}}

      • of course not. I am doing what seems best for me and for my family. I am lucky to have the flexibility of choices I do, and I never forget that. I would also go stark raving bonkers if I didn’t work, if I had no adult conversational outlet, etc. That has nothing to do with anyone else’s choices.

        And I didn’t take your post personally: I was just surprised by the sweeping generalization of “all stay at home mothers are xyz”.

    • Hello, cellocat. I don’t remember where I saw you before but your name has stuck with me. Good to see you.

      • Hi JeanLouise. Thanks.
        I’ve commented here before, though it’s been a long time. And at Reclusive Leftist, once in a while. I started reading blogs during the 2008 primary season, and still read a number of them regularly.

  9. Ah it’s all poppycock. I have been both a full time 60-70 hour per week working mom and a not so full time able to work from home office and met up with the steroetypical responses from both ends of the silly mommy war crap for the last 15years. doesn’t matter which one you are, people need to feel better about what they do by making others feel worse about themselves. I suggest we all just suck it up and don’t fall for the hype. At the end of it all nobody wins a prize, we are, as they say, just dust, so enjoy as much as u can whatever your lot in life ends up being .

    • Pretty much.
      Everyone back to their own corner and just chill. Don’t stick your religious macrobiotic helicopter stay at home parenting down my throat and I won’t stick my secular “candy on occasion is a fifth food group”, “do your homework by yourself, it’s not my project”, daycare but breastfed parenting style down yours.

      • just as each kid is different, with different needs and desires, so r each of the mothers. but if any one is looking for an award for their lifestyle choice or parenting methods, well they r in for a rude awakening.

  10. Here’s another:

    Yes, moonlight and loads of love.

    • LOL. Sounds a lot like kool-aid drinking Obots. IOW, a sort of religious zealotry.

      • Yes, there is religion and zeal and religious zeal. It is very frightening. And these women dominate the suburbs and make everyone else’s life miserable.

  11. This competition is as old as the invention of women and childbirth. You could play the same records for the 60s. As for Sarah Palin, she is not popular with women according to the polls—they would prefer Obama over her by quite a margin. So what does that say about the female vote?

    • >So what does that say about the female vote?
      That I question the polls.

      Here’s the question I want the pollsters to ask: if the choice was between Hillary and Obama, who would they choose?

    • I think it says that the polls suck and that is no choice at all.

  12. Being an interloper, may I inject a comment on an allied subject? I became enmeshed in some rather bitter politics precipitated by two STAHMs who had returned to work after a 22 year hiatus “to raise their kids properly.” Both expected to be considered for immediate promotions and seniority considerations, even though they had exited the organization decades earlier. Returning to the workforce with unrealistic views of your own skills can be a major problem.

    • 22 years?? Can you breastfeed that long?
      Srsly, why do you need 22 years to raise your kid properly? After the first 6, they go to school for most of the day and spend a couple hours after school playing with other kids in aftercare. They’re probably *happy* to see less of you.
      As for immediate promotions and stuff, if I took off the last 22 years of my career and hadn’t kept up with it, I’d be fricking useless in the lab. They don’t teach the same biology as they did back then. It’s like barely the same science. And computer skills are crucial. Being out of the workforce for that long must be like being in prison when you’re 22 and coming out when you’re 44. I mean, how do you know what to do in the modern world? What exactly did they expect when they came back?

      • I guess some of these women never heard of divorce.

        What happens when after 20 years of marriage the husband decides to trade mommy in for a trophy wife?

        • This is one of the reasons I would never recommend any woman to become a stay at home mom without either 1.) an established career that is easy to jump back into or 2.) an ironclad prenup guaranteeing someone else foot the bill for my retraining and rebuilding years.
          Anyone who goes into it without either one of the two is playing Russian Roulette.

        • Or gets cancer and runs up a bunch of debt before he croaks? The $100,000 life insurance policy doesn’t cover everything, the house is worth less than is owed, and the regular bills keep coming too.

          • Funny, both my aunt and my mom said the *first* thing they did when they were married was made absolutely sure that their husbands carried plenty of insurance.
            Back then I guess they weren’t the immediate suspects in murders. It was probably just an economic decision.

          • What constitutes “plenty” of insurance in an era when houses run in the hundreds of thousands and medical bills can easily pass a million?

          • You’re preaching to the converted. There’s nothing that can replace the ability to fend for yourself. No one loves you more than you love yourself.

  13. This one is hillarious. It’s hard to believe some people can be this stupid (and yet I kinda do believe it.):

    • OMG! That is really, really funny! That happens to me ALL the time. My two kids are 14 years apart. My youngest is 6yrs and oldest is 21. Everybody LOVES to evaluate that.

      “Wow, big spread there! Do they have the same dad?” There are slightly more tactful observations…

      • I used to get the same kind of tactless questions when I started going gray in my twenties and before I decided to color it. I got so sick of it. The typical conversation would go like this:
        “Wow, you sure have a lot of gray hair. Have you ever considered just changing the rest of it gray?”
        “Not really, Have you ever considered gaining 50 pounds?”

    • I think you need to rise above it RD. Nobody lies being judged for their choices, especially with regards to raising their kids. You have every right to be offended by your clucking mean-girl neighbors, but maturity goes a long way.

      Screw them, but don’t sink to their level. Don’t you see you’re doing exactly what they are? You’re being defensive, judgmental, and mean to people who you have never met and never did anything to you.

      Kids, parents, and families are a diverse group. It’s stupid to speak in such broad terms.

      • You must be new here.
        I think you are missing the point. I don’t have an issue with women staying home with their kids. What I take issue with is the propensity of some commenters to jump on a thread on the topic to insist on their right to be treated as a better, more special mother because they gave up everything and sacrificed their lives to care for their children. They have demanded respect and a certain recognition that they are unwilling to give working mothers. And my point is that they don’t deserve any more respect than any other mother who is just doing the best she can.
        I would not say that all SAHMs do this but some SAHMs do. There is a strong message that society gives that women who stay at home with their children are automatically more womanly and maternal and better mothers. And I don’t think that’s true at all. But there may be women of a certain age or religious persuasion who talked themselves into that as compensation for not really having a choice in the matter. Those women are not doing the rest of us any favors and I will not indulge them.
        That’s all.

        • It’s stupid to speak in such broad terms.

          That’s kinda sexist to say in a thread about women.

        • Fair enough, I understand your intent better now. I’ll just say that even though you probably realize this, I don’t think you articulated it very strongly.

          My point is just that the social and status anxiety that you, and other working mothers, sometimes feel or are made to feel is mirrored by SAHM. Everybody questions their choices sometimes, and people often try to reassure themselves about those choices by disparaging others choices. Just recognize that and you won’t be bothered so much by your local mean-girls. It’s a sign of immaturity and they’re the poorer for it.

          • Oh, I’m not bothered by them. We avoid each other like the plague. They can’t help being snooty busy bodies and I can’t help being snarky in return. But in this town, they outnumber women like me so we just keep our distance. It’s better that way. I’ve considered joining the HSA (like PTA) and volunteer for more things but just the thought of spending an evening with these moms makes me cross it off my list. I’d rather be buried up to my neck in an anthill and smothered with honey.

          • I’m surprised they haven’t reported you to CPS for neglecting your daughter.

          • Funny you should say that. There was a group of volunteers in the elementary school who came into the classroom to do lifeskills/self esteem presentations. In 2nd grade, they did one on the perils of demon rum and how alcohol was the worst thing on the earth that you could ever put in your body.
            After this presentation, the principal of the school calls me and says he is vacillating about reporting me to DYFS. Huh? On what grounds? So, he tells me that Brooke was at this presentation and all the kids were chiming in about what they thought of alcohol and Brooke says, “My mother forced me to drink wine once.”
            WTF?
            I wracked my brains and couldn’t think of a time where I made her be my drinking buddy. The principal seemed unconvinced. I was irate. Why would I EVER force a kid to drink wine? Does that make any sense whatsoever? Then it dawned on me. One easter, we were at my mom’s house and Brooke was running around like a cat with the zooms. She was being disruptive and reckless. My mom used to pass a bottle of Mogen David back to my sister and me when we drove cross country and she wanted us to sleep after 10 hours of straight driving. (They didn’t have dimetapp when I was a kid and you only need a mouthful to settle down) So, I offered her a sip of my wine. She refused. Then proceeded to run around the house making chaos.
            THAT’s what she was referring to. So, I told the principal about the Easter thingy, seeing as he was looking for a plausible explanation and wasn’t inclined to believe Brooke was lying.
            In actuality, no wine was drunk by the kid. I had a glass with dinner and one afterwards. No one went home plastered, drove a car inebriated or molested anyone’s children. It was a simple misunderstanding on Brooke’s part. He lectured me yada-yada-yada. I ground my teeth but said nothing because the dude was seriously going to call in the social workers and poof! there would go my custody arrangement and maybe foster homes would be a possibility while a full and thorough investigation, which would have eventually yielded nothing, was conducted.
            I was majorly pissed. What were these women thinking?? Life was already hard for Brooke at school. Why make it worse?
            Brooke and I had a good long talk on the way home. NEVER talk to another parent while they are visiting your class. It was really crappy that I had to tell her that these parents and teachers could not be trusted but she had to be on her guard from now on. She was a smartass troublemaker in class and they were looking for signs of neglect and abuse, it didn’t matter to them that they were going to hurt our family. She got the picture.

          • My mom NEVER gave me alcohol.

            She made me buy my own.

          • What’s more amazing is that on several occasions, I’ve picked my kids up from aftercare and some other parent waltzes in reeking of reefer. I mean leaving a marijuana sillage a mile long. Now, I don’t indulge in pot, haven’t in decades. But the smell is unmistakable and the fact that the parents in question seem so laid back. Yep, typical well educated suburban professionals, stoned out of their minds and picking up their kids to drive them home in their Lexus SUVs.
            And no one bats an eye. No words are ever said. The aftercare workers appear to not even notice. They shouldn’t even turn over custody of the kid to a stoned parent but they do.
            But the exaggerations of a kid about alcohol? TOTALLY believable and enough to lose your kid.

          • The attitude towards wine in this country is bizarre compared to what it’s like in other countries. My ex told me that when he visited his grandmother in Italy when he was a kid, she’d give him a wine jug to get filled at the store down the street. No big deal. Granted, you’re not likely to give your 7 year old a bottle but when we were kids, my mom would give us tiny cordial glasses of wine mixed with water on Thanksgiving. It was a very special occasion. And I doubt my mom was the only one who passed the bottle and told her kids to take a sip when she wanted them to go to sleep. Ehh, it only happened once or twice. Nowadays, my mom would be busted for that.

          • I used to carry a mini-bottle of Jack Daniels in my son’s diaper bag. It is an OLD remedy for teething where you rub a little on their gums – I’m sure this would be the worst mom of the year winner these days!

            My babysitter teased me that if that didn’t work I’d drink it and wouldn’t care that he was screaming. Yes, I was also an evil working mother back then…

      • Self-righteousness is oddly unpopular here.

  14. It doesn’t matter where you sit – single mom, SAHM, working mom or if you have chosen to not be a mom – society has plenty of scorn if you are a woman. I think it is the woman part. Getting us to eat our own is a great ploy.

    I’ve met the women you are talking about – and they aren’t any fun to be around.

    I did decide to stay at home when I had the chance a couple years ago. I was a software architect/ programmer for 20 years and 40 hour work weeks are a fairytale, ask DT. Sometimes I miss the concentrated hours of problem solving or even mind-numbing hours of data inspection or testing.

    I don’t miss “merit” raises, “personal development plans” or BS meetings that wasted all my time. I always thought I would be better as wasting my time than other people – and I was right!

    I just wanted to enjoy my time for a while and not spend every minute “wisely”. I don’t need any “special recognition” because this is something I did for ME.

    • Good, I’m glad to see there are others who get it.
      But we still have a problem with women who came of age before the 70’s. Women of that era didn’t have a lot of choices and conditioning is strong. What surprises me is that some of them have gotten MORE conservative as they age than they were when they were back in the 60s. This is true of my mom and her friends. And wouldn’t you know that they watch a lot of Fox.
      We may have to tune in to see what memes are being pushed.

      • I think they come from a generation where a woman “having to work” was a reflection on their husband not being a good provider. It also provides a measure of freedom for women that made our parent’s and grandparent’s generations uncomfortable..

        My mom worked from the time I was school-age. She is also conservative (for everyone else but not so much herself).

      • I wouldn’t be surprised that some of the women who were liberal in the 60s saw how feminist organizations were devolving into political operations in the Obama era and turned to the right.

      • More likely a lot of feminist organizations lost touch with the lives of the typical American woman. I hate to say it but *some*, but not all, feminists are really into not being feminine. Frankly, I don’t see what that has to do with equal pay for equal work, or equal opportunity or eliminating hostile work environments or preserving reproductive rights. You should be able to advocate for all of those things and still wear heels if you want to. No need to unsex yourself. It doesn’t make you less of a feminist if you don’t think the patriarchy is out to get you, that all men are sexual predators and that the country’s doctors are not trying to poison you with birth control pills.
        Somehow, feminism went off the rails and got distracted.

    • I’ve heard stories about 40 hour work weeks. I assume it’s a myth since I’ve never seen such a thing.

      • Yeah, I pretty much worked 45-50 hour weeks routinely except during the weeks approaching “code complete” and then again at implementation where it would rocket up to include weekends and late nights.

  15. But don’t ask for any special recognition of your “sacrifice”. When you use that word, you reveal more about your relationship to your children than you probably intended.

    Oh, that is spot-on, RD! I have in mind a particular relative who will talk at length about how she finds herself elevated by the sacrifice. And with hints of aggrieved righteousness showing through.

    It just makes me think uneasily of masochism.

  16. My mom was a SAHM until she divorced. She worked her butt off. There were 7 of us kids counting my sterp sister and my cousin who ran away from home and moved in with us. We were in 4_h, art lessons, square dancing, piano lessons, girl (or boy) scouts, band, sports and catechism every Wednesday. Considering we lived in a town of less than 1000 poeple, it was quite a feat to keeps us going all the time. We walked ourselves to all that stuff. It is what she liked doing and she was pretty wonderful. She did not micromanage my life. I wanted to do all that stuff, and she made sure I was able to. I still managed to find plenty of time to get into trouble when I worked at it. I chose my own friends, and she made them welcome. Our best friends did not have an inside bathroom, so every Saturday night, the girls spent the night with us and took real baths and Mom curled all our hair and we all went to mass together on Sunday.

    I’m not my Mom. But I do my best. I have four children and I took off 12 weeks with each kid, because that’s how long I could get full pay. I’ve never missed a ball game or a concert, but it isn’t easy to raise kids alone. My kids weren’t run ragged like we were, but they had evey opportunity to do whatever they wanted. It doesn’t matter if you work or stay at home. I’ve raised my kids alone for most of their lives, and they have all grown up to be strong, self sufficient, kind people. One thing about kids with working parents, they learn to handle things. My kids took care of one another a lot. I’m proud of the job I’ve done.

    If you love your kids enough, you do what needs to be done, and being there all the time isn’t what’s important. It’s being there when you need to be. My Mom has always been there when I need her and that’s what she taught me.

  17. I think that the reason that a lot of SAHMs think that they are experts on parenting is because that is the only ‘job’ they do. Therefore, they must be good at it!

    I am kind of amazed how many moms on my street are SAHMs. It is not terribly affluent here. And they ALL go to the bus stop! I had to walk to pre-school when I was little. I have to say that most of these Moms are perfectly nice to me. (I often walk my dog at that hour.) btw, I enjoyed pre-school!

    I think there is a balance between letting your kids learn independence and keeping them safe. If they are overly protected, they don’t learn to navigate the world at large.

    I think there is a Whole Foods Mom who is a SAHM. I am sure I have seen them. I think it is OK to want your family to have healthy food.

    But, what a lot of these moms, not all by any means, are doing, is trying to become, or showing that they are, part of a certain social set. It is a kind of snobbery. I knew one who bragged about the money her husband made. They are now divorced.

    But, one does get the feeling that, because they rule at home, that they seem to think that they rule everywhere else.

  18. RD,
    I admire your work but was a little taken aback with this post. I would never have thought that you would make blanket statements like “Now, I have made no secret of my dislike of SAHMs”.

    I have always been a working Mom since my son was a year old and I have always admired SAHMs. I cannot be one – because I just do not have the patience or dedication to be a mom 24 * 7 with no identity outside of home.

    I think all of women’s choices are equallty valid : whether to work fulltime , part time or be a SAHM. And ought to be respected. I would *never* claim that my choice to be a working mom is better than an SAHMs choice- and I would not expect an SAHM to claim that there choice is somehow supeior.

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