By Kate Gace Walton
As the editor of a fledgling website focused on the subject of work, I should love the so-called Mommy Wars. In fact, every so often, Hunger Games-style, I should round up a few women to write dueling essays denigrating each other’s parenting styles and claiming superiority. This would, as they say, “drive traffic.” Unfortunately, it would also drive me bonkers.
I can’t stand the Mommy Wars, and here’s why:
1. They don’t really exist. A few limelight-seekers aside, stay-at-home moms and moms who work outside the home are not in fact at war with one another. For one thing, war is exhausting, and moms are tired. Tired and busy. Whether it’s wrangling the kids or seeking the Higgs boson, moms have lots to do. Sure, we all say snippy things from time to time (we’re TIRED, remember?), but there is no war. Given a free half hour, very few moms would choose to engage in a coordinated attack on an imaginary enemy. No, most of us would probably go on Facebook, like a few photos, and comment on a couple of posts (“You look great!…She’s so big!…Congrats!”) Inane, maybe—but a far cry from warmongering.
2. Even the teams are ‘pretend.’ Not only are the ‘wars’ trumped up; I don’t even think there are two distinct sides. These days, women and men move in and out of the workforce multiple times, for all sorts of reasons. Economic necessity? In! Layoffs? Out! Unbelievable opportunity? In! Serious illness? Out! Sometimes there’s choice involved; all too often, there’s not.
My point is that any parent who works outside the home today could easily be a stay-at-home parent down the road—and vice versa. The so-called camps in these so-called wars are about as fixed as intramural soccer teams: if we’re wearing uniforms at all, they’re merely pinnies.
3. They’re distracting. We don’t need fake wars—there are plenty of real conflicts to tackle. As our robot overlords will no doubt point out to us some day, we humans have all sorts of needs competing for the time and attention we might otherwise give to our jobs: yes, there are children to raise, but there are also elderly parents to care for, friendships to nurture, clothes to wash, meals to cook, bikes to ride, communities to tend, mountains to climb, stories to write, hats to knit.
Finding the right balance, both as individuals and as a society, is incredibly difficult—but that’s the work at hand. That’s always the work at hand. Let’s focus on that and confine all the highly-produced catfights to the place where they belong: Season 17 of The Bachelor.