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You are not teaching your young child some philosophical lesson in egalitarianism. What you are actually teaching your child is that even if he or she would prefer to be with you, mommy's desire to be out in the working world (even at a financial loss) is more important.
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Before becoming a mom I didn't even know there were "mom groups." I don't mean the groups you can find on Facebook or at your local community centre. I mean the divide between stay-at-home moms (SAHM) and working moms. This got me thinking...How are my relationships with my working-mom friends? Was it different?
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With the heavy lifting of baby-rearing behind you, now may be the time to head back to work. For those already working and no longer chained to daycare fees, perhaps it's a good time to go after a new career opportunity. Or, the empty house may have your biological clock ticking for just one more baby?
The phrase "I don't know how you do it!" really grates on my nerves. I know that the speaker means well, but I equally realize that they aren't thinking through the ramifications of what they are saying. "I don't know how you do it" is truly one of the most insulting phrases attached to motherhood.
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Moms are riddled with guilt. Guilt about lack of time. Guilt about the food we're putting on the table. What happens next? The workout you planned to do gets waylaid because you feel guilty about leaving your kids once again. Here's the thing, though. There are so many benefits to making fitness a priority in your life when you have children, and many of them benefit both you AND your children.
I can't spot a single one-dimensional woman for miles. They don't exist. This woman, who lives and breathes only for her kids, who is defined by the existence of her children, doesn't exist. The only women I see today are women who slip in and out of being a friend, a partner, a professional, a creative, the house CEO, all the while being the best mothers they can.
There are always more chores, events, crying kids in a day than there are hours, hands and consolation waffles. Over time I'd come to see this doesn't mean I'm failing. It means that we aren't meant to do it all, rather we are meant to make choices about how we spend our time and energies.
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Before I had kids, I dreamed about being a stay-at-home mom. I loved the idea of having the whole household under control and making life easy for my husband by rocking the homemaker role. But as it turns out, I am happy in that role about one day per week and otherwise feel totally and utterly stifled.
Not too long ago, a fellow writer wrote a beautiful, touching piece called, "Today, Mommy is Sad." It made me tear up, because it took me back to when I was pregnant for the second time and struggling to deal with my conflicting emotions. Today is a different story. Today, Mommy is an asshole.
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I don't want to read any more arguments about who has it harder, whose work is "real work," who is contributing more to society, or who is doing a better job ensuring her kids become stable, non-homicidal adults. I'm proposing a new form of Internet literature, where one group of moms singles out another group of moms for a job well done.
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As a woman and a mother, who has been both a SAHM and working mum, here's a few suggestions as to how you can really repay your beautiful wife. I apologize in advance if you are already doing all of this. You sound like a great guy, so it's quite likely that you are. If you're not, here's what you could do.
I don't judge my friends who work full-time (I'm completely proud and impressed by their success) and I don't judge my friends who don't work at all (I'm amazed by their patience and ability to put their careers on hold). The trouble is that moms feel the need to defend their position (myself included) whenever they feel it's being questioned, and sometimes it gets downright vicious. We've already established that there's no "perfect" solution that works for everyone, so it seems wrong that anyone has to compare themselves to anyone else (and feel guilty or insecure), but we're never going to get past it, it seems.
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As a culture, we have a weird obsession with women being "selfish." Mothers especially are prone to accusations of selfishness any time they make a choice that doesn't directly and obviously benefit their children. Even when mothers are encouraged to practice self-care, it's often approached with the idea that feeling happy and rested will make them better partners and parents.
These Mommy Wars, which have for their purpose to conquer and divide women, rather than unify us in our quest for familial happiness, could instead be a stepping point for women to finally empower each other despite and as a result of great ideological differences.