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      We have raised $9,353. That means we’ve reached the first two milestones, and I’ll write sixteen reviews of books with useful information. The final milestone is at $11,000, and is to be a booklet, “How To Think: Understanding the World.” The fundraiser will end at midnight this coming Friday, June 28th. DONATE OR SUBSCRIBE I […]
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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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