“Oh, yeah? What did you decide?” I asked going through a mental list of all the possible choices that would eventually lead to her unprecedented success.
“I want to be a mom like you.” My heart sank into my stomach. At a moment when I should have been beaming with pride, I felt a free-falling sensation that sent me spinning into a speech to try to feel grounded. “You know, you can be anything you want to be,” I told her. “There are so many wonderful things in this world to experience. A doctor, an artist or maybe a writer (wink, wink), you can be a mother and anything else. You don’t have to choose one or the other.” She looked at me as though I had just given her a lesson on the theory of relativity, smiled and walked away. I wanted to grab her and hold her down until she assured me that she had other ambitions in life.
We all want our children to succeed but we want our girls to conquer the world, to break through the glass ceiling. So why is it when they grow up to become successful career women and mothers we criticize them?
The debate between working moms and stay-at-home moms continues to smolder – any denunciation causes a spark that ignites an explosion of talk show specials. SAHM’s, the antagonists in this classic story of bitter rivals, are forcefully spewing justifications in the form of judgments in hopes of producing a legitimate argument that not only convinces others her decision is right but also convinces herself. Not that the protagonists don’t carry their load of doubts but they are usually planted thoughts brought on by snubbing at school functions or guilt upon deletion of “volunteers needed” emails.
During one of the times when the flame was high on this explosive discussion, Dr. Phil produced a show covering the topic where he introduced Andrea, who had been both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. She stated that she sees both sides of the debate and wonders if the controversy is more a case of being envious of what the other mom is doing. The mother working outside the home wishes she had more time with her child; the stay-at-home mom desires to be recognized as a creative person in her own right. Though I agree with her statement, I do not believe that each envious party is equal in their covet.
To desire for more time with your children is a reasonable complaint but to yearn to be seen as an intelligent, capable woman behind the kids and piles of laundry is a life of demeaning isolation. 18 years of glaring through pea-green colored glasses at not only working moms but at other SAHM’s (a bit of a keeping up with the Jones’ between SAHM’s) can leave one with a distorted view of who they are; eventually losing sight of their identity. This makes for a bitter, judgmental, defensive mommy who buries herself in domestic activities.
What is the real reason we, SAHM’s, play the antagonists? Are we fighting for our beliefs in child-rearing or fighting to just be heard? Why would we want to attack those who are successfully raising kids while fulfilling the craving to be recognized as more than a housekeeper – essentially widening the path that women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony fought years to clear? It is no wonder the U.S just now, according to an article by Marcia Reynolds on the Huffingtonpost.com, went from 31st to 19th place in a report that ranks gender equality in 139 countries. We can’t stop fighting amongst ourselves long enough to fight for each other.
It is important for us to find or continue an identity outside of children when we become SAHM’s. Not only for ourselves but for our daughters who mimic our every move – so, instead of playing the role as antagonists and watching as the classic story of bitter rivals throws manure on the path to equality, we should take off the pea-green colored glasses and view the world through a broken glass ceiling.
All photos provided by photobucket