For years I have heard the term "Working Parent's Guilt." My stay-at-home friends and I, always ready to slay the reputation of our fellow women in the quintessential ploy to be the superior mothers, would belittle those who left their little darlings with babysitters or in daycare in order to work outside the home and pursue careers.
"I would never do that," we would say, sipping our coffee on our front porches as our children ran in circles in our fenced backyards. "Imagine if our children were away from us every single day, being watched by strangers." We'd nod in agreement as our little darlings who, by the third hour, were now tear-stained and snotty from the in-fighting occurring among the three-year-olds vying for the same plastic pail.
From my working friends, I would hear the counter argument: that having their children in daycare made the kids more sociable, intellectually advanced, and more receptive to kindergarten. "Kids that stay at home all day don't get the same kind of stimulation," they would say, and they would back it up with examples of their friend's two-year-old who sat in front of the TV all day while the mother surfed the Internet.
This is not an essay about working versus stay-at-home mothers. That topic has been beaten over the head with an anvil, and according to both camps still huffing and puffing as each one tries to shot-put the anvil at the other, ample examples of why they are the winners have been presented. This topic, however, demonstrates the slandering that goes on in the world in which women live.
Watching the various post-Oscar shows, one thing was made very evident: women looooove to put down other women. Oh sure, some female talk show hosts were kinder in their analysis of who had the prettiest dress and why, but most were quick to point out who should have been wearing a bra, who needed a seam sewn into her skirt, and who needed to redo her up-do.
Although all who spoke of Jennifer Lawrence's fall up the stairs were sympathetic in their play-by-play, that actress will go down in history, not for the award she won, but for tripping in a dress...Because apparently, tripping in a dress has never happened before?
Men don't vie with each other over parenting styles. Coach your kid in hockey, don't coach your kid; men don't even engage in conversations which categorizes one man as better than another related to issues which pertain to their children.
As for the Academy Awards, I don't even know what the men were wearing because the various women critiquing the Red Carpet, after gushing briefly over Bradley Cooper's blue eyes, quickly returned to the careful analysis of the thread count on each actress' gown, and wisecracked about Helena Bonham Carter's hairstyle (apparently her stylist neglected to actually style it).
In nursing, a profession dominated mostly by women, many nurses could name off several examples of occurrences when kindness and compassion were prevalent in their practice but not always exhibited between colleagues.
Research has shown not only that jobs held disproportionately by women report lower wages and pension funds than jobs held disproportionately by men, but that bullying in the workplace is not gender biased within male workers. Seventy per cent of the time, women will chose a target of the same sex. Why is it that in a male-dominated world, women are so quick to cut each other down, rather than speak up in defense of one another?
As someone who stayed at home with my four children for 13 years before going back to school, and now is slowly entering the work force, I can attest to the fact that my parenting technique has not changed. "Working Parent's Guilt" is squashed by my exhaustion. Last night, after completing my third 12-hour shift, when my 13-year-old daughter asked me for help with her geometry homework, rather than drag my weary body to the kitchen table, I offered my 17-year-old cold hard cash to be my substitute.
And just as Jennifer Lawrence flipped off the press later in the evening, after tripping up those stairs in that now infamous dress, I would do the same to anyone who dared criticize me. As a stay-at-home mother, I did what kept me sane then. And as a working mother, I pay my kids to do what keeps me sane now. Judge that ladies.