Monday, April 16, 2012

Mommy Wars 201.2

My husband calls it a pissing contest.

That’s what seems to be going on in the media and on social networking sites, as mothers (and some politicians) weigh in on Really Important Stuff, like who works harder, stay-at-home moms or moms who work outside the home.


Moms like to get in pissing contests, truthfully. We like to compare everything from our kids’ sleep patterns, what school we send them to, to what diapers we use (“I can’t believe anyone still uses Luvs.” “Oh my God, I don’t understand how anyone could use disposable diapers.” “Well my diaper material is completely organic, sewn with cotton fibers from a small local farmer.” “Can you believe those hippies who use cloth diapers?!”)

All of us do it. I know I do, even when I try to say I abhor it.

My biggest downfall is comparing the workload of being a mom based on the number of kids the mom has. Sometimes I catch myself looking down my nose at any mom with less than three kids, and looking with head-shaking reverential awe at moms with more than three kids. There’s nothing special about the number three, other than that’s the number of kids I happen to have. Moms with fewer have no idea how easy they have it (Oh my gosh, they still have an arm per kid!) and moms with more have some sort of superhuman capacity for sacrifice (I honestly think I would go insane if one more freaking kid came into my house permanently!), or so my thinking goes.

It’s not my better nature, that’s for sure.

The reality is that there are lots of factors that determine how hard it is to be a mom, and none of us (or almost none of us, if you prefer) has it easy. We do an often gross and mundane-seeming job, without any slaps on the back or performance reviews or promotions. It’s no wonder, when we live in a society that likes to rank everything from salaries to the top 100 episodes of our favorite TV show, we develop our own internal mommy ratings system to keep score.

It’s just that we don’t really need to.

The bigger picture is that most of us (all of us, if you prefer) want the same basic things when we think about our kids. We want them to be safe. We want them to have adequate food and water and clothes. We want them to go to safe, good schools where they learn to be whatever they want. We want them to get well when they’re sick. We want them to have a life at least as good as the one we do. And most of us want these things for all kids, not just our own.

Life is hard right now for a lot of us, especially women and children. We need to stick together and remember what’s most important, because united, the voice of mothers is strong, and wields power. Divided over petty and arbitrary rankings, we lose a lot of our strength.

Enough with the pissing contests.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An Open Letter to Ms. Hilary Rosen

Ms. Rosen,

Thank you for your service to the DNC and, by extension, to hard-working Americans nationwide. I appreciate that you must be interviewed in a way that promotes our candidate, hits on your talking points, and captures the interest of viewers while at the same time being concise. That can’t be a terribly easy job. You make very valid arguments about the how issues important to women are often misunderstood by Mr. Romney and the larger Republican party.

I am writing to urge you to stop defending your comments made on Anderson Cooper 360 regarding Ms. Romney. Ms. Romney is not the presumptive nominee. Pointing out her lack of suitability as an advisor on women’s issues is beside the point. Mr. Romney remains out of touch with issues affecting most women because he lives a life of privilege far removed from the struggles of ordinary Americans and has demonstrated thus far an inability to place himself in the shoes of working and middle class people. His remoteness has nothing to do with whether or how much he listens to his wife.

Your point that Ms. Romney is out of touch because she “has not worked a day in her life” was flawed, as was your further clarification via your CNN opinion article published today that “It is a wonderful luxury to have the choice (to stay home). But let's stipulate that it is NOT a choice that most women have in America today.”

Many women who choose to stay home do so at great personal sacrifice. I go without a savings account, haircuts, vacations, fresh razor blades, and other niceties in order to stay home with my kids. I don’t stay home because I have the “luxury” of staying home, I do it because I make tremendous sacrifices to do what I believe is best for my kids.

That’s just my story. All mothers make choices regarding what’s best for their families. There are many working moms who must choose between government help and work. There are non-working moms who do not have terrible financial burdens. And there are working moms who choose to work, not because they “have to” but because they understandably like their jobs or the financial security and/or financial freedom. And there are stay-at-home moms like me who choose the often scary world of living paycheck to plate. All of our choices are valid, and none of them makes a woman less qualified to speak about what issues, economic or otherwise, are important to women.

Please stop doing the women of America, and President Obama, a disservice by continuing to claim otherwise.

Best wishes from a fellow Democrat,

Lolly Walter

Link to Ms. Rosen’s CNN opinion piece: