One day within the last 25 years, most of us turned on a computer and, for the first time, met the Internet. With a few clicks, our worlds got bigger than we ever imagined. Conversations and opinions that had remained in small groups became larger. Huger. Visible to people who didn’t view the world the same way as we did.
This is, in the big picture, a very good thing.
Except when it’s not. Except when the opinions offend someone — then things can get ugly fast. My guess? Sometime within the last 25 years, most of us have seen this firsthand. The first I really saw of it was in-bickering among moms.
The farthest back I can find documentation of the “Mommy Wars” was about 2004. Of course the concept, Mom vs. Mom: I’m Right, You’re Wrong sparring has been around far longer. Cavemoms probably did it.
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I’m not a fan of the condescending term “Mommy Wars,” but it describes an ugly, oft-repeated conversation:
Mom No. 1: I became a (stay at home mom/working mom) and it’s the best/worst choice ever!
Mom A: It’s not a choice!
Mom No. 1: It is a choice!
Mom A: You’re wrong!
Mom No. 1: No, you are!
The way I see it: When you can predict how a conversation is going to go, it’s time for you to leave … so I did. If this pseudo war was still being fought during the last several years, I wasn’t a soldier; I wasn’t even a spectator.
I had done my time and come to the conclusion that this is the stupidest argument in the history of womanhood, and we can do so much better.
I’m not sure why it was posted or why I clicked a link to an article shared by a Facebook friend last week.
“Really?” I said aloud when I saw the title. “This is still going on?”
The article was from 2013: Nine Reasons I Regret Being a Stay at Home Mom. The imagined conversation that flashed in my head was from 2013, too.
“Is she saying I’m an idiot for staying home with my kids? Financially I had no choice!”
“She’s so right! It’s a choice! Hold on to those careers, women, your kids will be fine.”
“Best thing I ever did.”
“Best thing I ever did”
Money wasn’t the only deciding factor, but many years ago I had stopped working full-time when it didn’t make sense financially to keep my job. Reading the list of nine, every point rang true...
... bu t...
… I didn’t feel regret. All I could think of was friends and close family who were downsized several times in the years I’ve spent as a stay at home mom. Those down-sizings necessitated complete career changes, educations becoming obsolete, lowered expectations, downward trending income, total lack of self-worth … every point that the author of the article made for regretting her decision to stay home with her kids.
Any woman — Team Mom A or Team Mom No. 1, could end up with the same career experiences regardless of the path they followed.
Life doesn’t come with a crystal ball (although, how cool would that be?) You make a decision based on the information you have at the time. Looking back is a lot like looking forward — you imagine how things would have been different but you can’t factor in what you can’t imagine.
Remember the adult life you imagined at 17? Cool life, right? Not the one you led.
Then something else I couldn’t have imagined years ago happened: I read the recent comments. There were lots from women on Team Mom A and Team Mom No. 1 — but there was no finger pointing, no arguing, no battle, just kind and supportive conversation about a common situation by women who viewed the world differently, but were united, not divided.
It was something I couldn’t have imagined during the ugly parts of the Mommy Wars.
It was an example of one team: Team Mom, doing better in this big, vast world.
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. To listen to the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing, visit www.thehistorychicks.com orwww.susanvollenweider.com