wading into the mommy wars

I don’t usually do controversy on my blog. And I probably won’t in this post either. (Sorry to disappoint those of you who popped in because you googled “war.”) I promise that I am super-saucy and offend people in real life all the time if it makes you feel better. Just ask me how I feel about PowerPoint and get rant-comfortable in a hurry.

Anywho.

workingmom3.xlarge

The working vs. stay-at-home mom debate is an interesting one. I find it fascinating and agree with absolutely everyone on every side of it.

Here is my side:

I want pie-in-the-sky, rearrange-the-world change.

Stay at home moms
For women who stay at home with their children, I want better community. We need online groups to become in-person groups. We need moms to go outside and know their neighbors. We need neighborhoods to become the villages they were meant to be – the it-takes-a-village villages. Where kids go outside and play. Where we watch out for and know each other and tattle like crazy on each others’ kids (and expect reasonable consequences for said kids when we do).

We are too isolated and alone. We need less online comparison. Mommy blogger A has stopped yelling at her kids. Mommy blogger B is hugging her kids everyday. Mommy blogger C is teaching her kids responsibility. But then consider the real mommy who is reading these mommy bloggers in her pjs at 4pm considering if she can let the jelly stain on the carpet go for one more day. That mommy? She doesn’t feel so good about herself after “connecting” online. If she were to actually hang out with mommy A, B, or C, she’d see their proverbial jelly stains and she’d feel better about her own life choices.

Stay at home moms need gathering places. Winter gathering places that don’t sell French fries. And parks with no sand. Do you hear me? No sand.

Full-time working moms
Working moms need quality, convenient, affordable child care. We need leadership positions that change the world. We need to be heard and valued and compensated fairly. We need to be applauded and not work-interrupted when we volunteer to chaperone school field trips. And we need to be exempt from having to “help our kids” make those dreadful showpiece papier mache valentines boxes. (When did this become the measure of successful parenting?)

We need lines. Boundaries. We need to not feel like no matter where we are or what we are doing, we should be somewhere else, doing something else. We need respect and support from coworkers, supervisors, staff, husbands, stay at home moms, children, and cleaning crews (oh, right. Don’t you just wish?)

Other options
And you know what I want most of all? Better hybrids. A way to maximize the work pool potential of women who want to work a bit and be with their children too.

I want part-time positions in every industry, leadership level, and pay scale. I know women who pull off full-time work in part-time hours. I am one of them. I want part-timeness to get the same respect as full-timeness.

Part-time jobs should come with vacation days. Sit down corporate boards. I didn’t say full benefits packages. I said vacation days. It’s not the moon.

The moon
But speaking of the moon. You know a hybrid I’d dearly love to see? A couple job-share gig.

Here’s the idea. You know how teachers job share sometimes? One teaches math, the other language arts and everybody’s happy? It’s that concept BUT BETTER!

Listen. No, really, lean in closer to the screen.

What if parents could share one full-time job? It is a genius idea – if I do say so myself. You have one job, one salary, one benefits package. Husband works 3 days. Wife works 2. Or vice versa – you can decide! Employer wins because they get two for the price of one. Dad wins because he gets to have more time with the kids. Wife wins because she gets to be home and work too. Marriage wins because you’d have common goals, to succeed together at home and work. Kids win because parents are their caregivers. And, nobody pays for childcare!

You think about it. This could work. Couples bring different skills to the table. Those different skills could be such a benefit in an office setting. I could do all of the meetings and presenting and my husband could do all the work. Ahem, I mean, he could do all of the introverted bits of the job.

Does anyone know of a company where I can pitch this genius idea? Wouldn’t this be an amazing option on the thus-far lacking buffet table of flexible work arrangements? Tell me where to pitch it and I will present all of the research (that my husband put together) about why it will work!

What do you think? What job would you like to couple-share?

*One disclaimer: My moon option is really just about me and women who are situated similarly. I love all the women situated dissimilarly but for the purposes of this idea, I’m making assumptions about want vs. need to work, about married vs. single. And those assumptions are that everybody is exactly like me (that’s true right? everyone is exactly like me right?): wanting but not needing to work, with young kids, with a husband (who gets out of his ambitious wife’s way). I have tried most working arrangements. I think we can all be kinder and less war-like and judgey about what options others choose. Variety is the spice and all that good jazz.

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5 thoughts on “wading into the mommy wars

  1. Love this from you. And totally agree that we all need to be kinder and less judgy and more helpful to each other.

    But I cannot let you slide on the pseudo-wage-gap info. Did I teach you nothing in those way-be-gone (went-be-gone? way-gone? by-gone? …can’t quite get the word right…) TA meetings?

    The popular interpretation of the wage gap statistic does not match how that statistic is calculated. The reported statistic of 72% or 77% (or whatever number is being used this year) is not looking at a man and a woman who are equally qualified, performing the same job.

    It is simply a ratio looking at the median wage of ALLwomen (those who are unemployed, part-time employed, and full-time employed) vs the median wage of ALL men (those who are unemployed, part-time employed, and full-time employed).

    Just by the nature of the choices men and women typically make (e.g., less than 10% of men are working part-time, vs more than 30% of women working part-time), there is going to be an imbalance in the statistic. Add to that the fact that about 20% of women are unemployed, and you can see the major skew in this statistic.

    Every wage gap study I have ever read (and I have read a lot) that takes into account education level, years of experience, and level of employment has a similar conclusion: there is little, if any, wage gap. I have seen a range from 96% to 102%.

    *ahem*
    {stepping off my soapbox now}

  2. Schooled by my Econ Professor! And so deservedly! And so professorially! Thank you for setting the record straight. I will delete that bit right away. Too bad I haven’t remained friends with any of my English professors so they could school me for all the made up words and my fondness for starting sentences with And.

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