Working and mothering and waging war

by DaniGirl on March 8, 2006 · 26 comments

in Uncategorized

Statistics Canada released a compendium of data and reports yesterday in a 300-page tome on the status of women in Canada, collating information on subjects like demographics, employment, education, health, and family arrangements. It reported that while women still earn substantially less than men, they are filling more professional and and influential positions, and are almost as likely as men to have university degrees. It also reported that by 2004, 65 per cent of mothers with children under three were employed, a figure that has more than doubled since 1976.

Did you catch that? Two in three mothers of preschoolers in Canada are in the workforce. And yet the current government is in the process of dismantling agreements with the provinces to improve access to childcare and improve early learning opportunities.

There’s a new book out called MOMMY WARS: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families. I haven’t read it, but I’ve read about it. There’s even an excerpt here. You know what? I think I’ll take a pass on this one. But it’s rankling me, because it’s stirring up all the tired old crap about ‘rivalries’ between stay at home moms and working moms.

And then, of course, there is this . I’ve been stewing on this for weeks. It’s the Web site of Darla Shine, author of Happy Housewives – which, for the record, I also haven’t read. But when I saw that the site was strictly for SAHMs, I got curious, so I registered. She says on her splash page, “You need to be a SAHM. If you are one, you know what this means. Is this exclusionary? YOU BETCHA!” And when you register, it asks you again, “Are you a SAHM”, to which I answered “no”. But it let me in anyway, and they sent me a password – which, if you’re curious, is “hotmama”. I took a look around, but I can’t see any reason at all why they would choose to exclude two thirds of women, except for some inflamatory comments in her blog like, “Staying in daycare is just as good as being in the safe comfort of your home with your mommy? Calling your child about a boo-boo or missing the soccor games is okay?” in response to Linda Hirshman on GMA.

Why have I been letting this gnaw away at me? I give no credibility to anything this woman says, and yet I am deeply offended by her exclusion of me based on my employment status.

I don’t get it. I don’t get why it has to be about facing off, about choosing sides, about your way or my way. I don’t understand why working mothers are always painted as urban vixens who carry Prada bags and spend $48 for eyeshadow who might as well leave their children in Dickensian orphanages as in child care. I don’t see why, in 2006, there continues to be criticism of women who work. It doesn’t matter whether they have to work or they choose to work – although I do believe that for the most part, choice is a myth for the middle class.

All the working mothers I know work to feed and house and clothe their families. And, why has nobody asked the question about what would happen to the economy if 65 per cent of the workforce suddenly removed itself?

This is all over the place, I know. You know why? Because I’m a working mother who has too much on her plate, whose expectations for herself are too high (thank you media and society), and who is too exhausted trying to live her life let alone spend hours formulating a coherent argument to defend it.

Happy International Women’s Day.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JoJo March 8, 2006 at 2:53 pm

Is it ok that my heading is pounding with the sound of my blood pressure rising? Of course, to be honest, it could have something to do with the fact that I stepped on the scale this morning and was so frightened by the number that I took the stairs to my fourth floor office.
You know what bugs me about all this? That there are still too many women who have this need to tear other women down and make us feel guilty. How can a woman who KNOWS (and we all do) what guilt can do to a mom use it as their weapon to tear a mom down? No matter what our reality or choice is, we are all women raising our kids. And if it really is all about the kids, wouldn’t we serve the world’s children better if we supported and empowered their mothers.
And I can’t even begin to start talking about Stephen Harper and his cronies. My eyes are beating.

2 JoJo March 8, 2006 at 2:53 pm

Is it ok that my heading is pounding with the sound of my blood pressure rising? Of course, to be honest, it could have something to do with the fact that I stepped on the scale this morning and was so frightened by the number that I took the stairs to my fourth floor office.
You know what bugs me about all this? That there are still too many women who have this need to tear other women down and make us feel guilty. How can a woman who KNOWS (and we all do) what guilt can do to a mom use it as their weapon to tear a mom down? No matter what our reality or choice is, we are all women raising our kids. And if it really is all about the kids, wouldn’t we serve the world’s children better if we supported and empowered their mothers.
And I can’t even begin to start talking about Stephen Harper and his cronies. My eyes are beating.

3 nancy March 8, 2006 at 2:57 pm

A little sheepish to post here as a SAHM but read this twice and feel myself fighting the urge to jump up & down yelling “RIGHT ON! Go get ’em!! HURRAH” all in support of this really super, terrific and passionately written post.
I have always been in awe of working mothers, where the hell do you get the time to do yoru job AND the rest of your life? I am currently not working and can’t get it all done. To me, women like you are desrving of applause and your commitment to all facets of life is admirable.
Some say SAHM is the hardest job of all. You know what? Being a MOTHER is the hardest thing I have ever done. I don’t think it matters what we do or where or when or how often, we are all Mommies.
I for one don’t see what the big fucking deal is between SAHM, WAHM or WOHM…we are all mothers who make the decisions and choices we feel best serve our families. The bottom line is that WE ALL (as mothers) tend to put our families first. Isn’t that what matters?
Thanx for letting the blood boil a bit this morning, feels good.
MWAH!

4 nancy March 8, 2006 at 2:57 pm

A little sheepish to post here as a SAHM but read this twice and feel myself fighting the urge to jump up & down yelling “RIGHT ON! Go get ’em!! HURRAH” all in support of this really super, terrific and passionately written post.
I have always been in awe of working mothers, where the hell do you get the time to do yoru job AND the rest of your life? I am currently not working and can’t get it all done. To me, women like you are desrving of applause and your commitment to all facets of life is admirable.
Some say SAHM is the hardest job of all. You know what? Being a MOTHER is the hardest thing I have ever done. I don’t think it matters what we do or where or when or how often, we are all Mommies.
I for one don’t see what the big fucking deal is between SAHM, WAHM or WOHM…we are all mothers who make the decisions and choices we feel best serve our families. The bottom line is that WE ALL (as mothers) tend to put our families first. Isn’t that what matters?
Thanx for letting the blood boil a bit this morning, feels good.
MWAH!

5 Sugarmama March 8, 2006 at 3:34 pm

So sad that the title of that book included the term “face off.” Like we need more of this crap! Maybe it’s just to distract ALL of us moms so we won’t start pushing too hard for government-funded, high-quality childcare for ANY parent who wants it. Divide and conquer, right?

6 Sugarmama March 8, 2006 at 3:34 pm

So sad that the title of that book included the term “face off.” Like we need more of this crap! Maybe it’s just to distract ALL of us moms so we won’t start pushing too hard for government-funded, high-quality childcare for ANY parent who wants it. Divide and conquer, right?

7 Phantom Scribbler March 8, 2006 at 4:05 pm

Honestly, do you think if we just ignore all the stupid media attempts to get us to fight with each other, they will finally go away? You know, if they figure out that they can’t sell us products by trying to make us hate each other?

8 Phantom Scribbler March 8, 2006 at 4:05 pm

Honestly, do you think if we just ignore all the stupid media attempts to get us to fight with each other, they will finally go away? You know, if they figure out that they can’t sell us products by trying to make us hate each other?

9 Beanie Baby March 8, 2006 at 4:14 pm

Hear hear.
Personally, I think a refusal to defend our choices–a “my life is fine and none of your business, thank you very much”–is probably the best response. Let them stew in their own bile.
Be happy and raise happy kids. It’s the best counter-argument there could be. Right?
On the daycare thing–I think right now we need to hope that the “fiscal imbalance” is resolved and Ontario chooses to use the funds on daycare. I mean, it isn’t just the dismantling of it–the province and the municipalities were already building new spaces. The money is already invested. It’s infuriating.

10 Beanie Baby March 8, 2006 at 4:14 pm

Hear hear.
Personally, I think a refusal to defend our choices–a “my life is fine and none of your business, thank you very much”–is probably the best response. Let them stew in their own bile.
Be happy and raise happy kids. It’s the best counter-argument there could be. Right?
On the daycare thing–I think right now we need to hope that the “fiscal imbalance” is resolved and Ontario chooses to use the funds on daycare. I mean, it isn’t just the dismantling of it–the province and the municipalities were already building new spaces. The money is already invested. It’s infuriating.

11 Renee March 8, 2006 at 5:12 pm

Bravo, Dani! Very well written post!
I totally agree.

12 Renee March 8, 2006 at 5:12 pm

Bravo, Dani! Very well written post!
I totally agree.

13 M-A March 8, 2006 at 6:46 pm

Having been both a SAHM and a working mother…I have to admit that both roles make me equally tired, guilty, happy, feel successful, angry, insecure etc….
I admire any mother who is exactly that…a mother whether they decide to stay at home or work….all we can do is our best and if people feel the need to judge and declare war? that is their own problems and they will have to deal with those issues themselves.

14 M-A March 8, 2006 at 6:46 pm

Having been both a SAHM and a working mother…I have to admit that both roles make me equally tired, guilty, happy, feel successful, angry, insecure etc….
I admire any mother who is exactly that…a mother whether they decide to stay at home or work….all we can do is our best and if people feel the need to judge and declare war? that is their own problems and they will have to deal with those issues themselves.

15 Janet March 8, 2006 at 8:04 pm

As women, we are witnessing one of the most exciting, yet most difficult times in our history because we have no mentors, role models, leaders who have been through this kind of transition before. And without role models for this kind of situation, I worry about what will be the result, not just for women, but for families.
I hear you, Dani, that 2/3 of women with preschoolers are now in the workforce. And that the government is doing a 180 on the whole Liberal daycare promise (which, by the way dates back to the early 90’s – and where is it?? Sorry, I digress…).
But maybe we should look at WHY 2/3 of women with wee ones are working. Could it be because the government (and therfore our society) hasn’t made it a priority to make it feasible for the middle class to make the choice for a parent (mom OR dad) to stay home? Single-income families are unfairly taxed in this country, and I can understand why it is that so many women feel that they have no choice but to work outside the home.
I just think we need to change our focus….the issue here is families, (not “working women”) however those families are defined, and however they choose to put food on their tables and roofs over their heads. If we’re talking about what’s best for families, we have to address their many situations…not simply those of the majority. “Majority rules” is an easy thing to say when it suits our argument….but our social system is (ideally) based on also supporting those who fall outside the majority.

16 Janet March 8, 2006 at 8:04 pm

As women, we are witnessing one of the most exciting, yet most difficult times in our history because we have no mentors, role models, leaders who have been through this kind of transition before. And without role models for this kind of situation, I worry about what will be the result, not just for women, but for families.
I hear you, Dani, that 2/3 of women with preschoolers are now in the workforce. And that the government is doing a 180 on the whole Liberal daycare promise (which, by the way dates back to the early 90’s – and where is it?? Sorry, I digress…).
But maybe we should look at WHY 2/3 of women with wee ones are working. Could it be because the government (and therfore our society) hasn’t made it a priority to make it feasible for the middle class to make the choice for a parent (mom OR dad) to stay home? Single-income families are unfairly taxed in this country, and I can understand why it is that so many women feel that they have no choice but to work outside the home.
I just think we need to change our focus….the issue here is families, (not “working women”) however those families are defined, and however they choose to put food on their tables and roofs over their heads. If we’re talking about what’s best for families, we have to address their many situations…not simply those of the majority. “Majority rules” is an easy thing to say when it suits our argument….but our social system is (ideally) based on also supporting those who fall outside the majority.

17 twinmomplusone March 8, 2006 at 9:15 pm

I think I’ve discussed this with you before Dani so I’ll try to make it short and sweet so as not to get too verbosely passionate about this, which I really am in reality:
I’ve been a working mom
I’ve been a SAHM
and I abhor/hate/despise/detest/loathe/get aggravated by any woman who has anything negative to say about the other group of women
is this what women’s lib led us to? women who have choices and yet criticize each other for their choices?
better stop here, I can feel my blood boiling…

18 twinmomplusone March 8, 2006 at 9:15 pm

I think I’ve discussed this with you before Dani so I’ll try to make it short and sweet so as not to get too verbosely passionate about this, which I really am in reality:
I’ve been a working mom
I’ve been a SAHM
and I abhor/hate/despise/detest/loathe/get aggravated by any woman who has anything negative to say about the other group of women
is this what women’s lib led us to? women who have choices and yet criticize each other for their choices?
better stop here, I can feel my blood boiling…

19 twinmomplusone March 8, 2006 at 9:18 pm

oh yeah, and there’s no way in hell I’ll ever buy those books

20 twinmomplusone March 8, 2006 at 9:18 pm

oh yeah, and there’s no way in hell I’ll ever buy those books

21 Amy Moore March 9, 2006 at 4:55 am

For a very lucid analysis of mothers and work, see _Unbending Gender_ by Joan Williams. It’s an excellent historical, legal, economic and cultural anlaysis of the family labor and market labor situation in the U.S. What is most compelling about William’s book, however, is her even-handed treatment of the issues and refusal to fall into the media-created, so-called, “mommy war” mentality.

22 Amy Moore March 9, 2006 at 4:55 am

For a very lucid analysis of mothers and work, see _Unbending Gender_ by Joan Williams. It’s an excellent historical, legal, economic and cultural anlaysis of the family labor and market labor situation in the U.S. What is most compelling about William’s book, however, is her even-handed treatment of the issues and refusal to fall into the media-created, so-called, “mommy war” mentality.

23 Jen March 9, 2006 at 11:42 am

Wonderful post. I do recommend Miraim Peskowitz’s “truth behind the mommy wars” which shows that those of us who feel we are moral victors because of of childrearing “choice” are simply being duped. There is not true choice. Not yet. All mamas are doing what they need to do to get by.
Oh, and happy belated birthday Tristan!
Jen

24 Jen March 9, 2006 at 11:42 am

Wonderful post. I do recommend Miraim Peskowitz’s “truth behind the mommy wars” which shows that those of us who feel we are moral victors because of of childrearing “choice” are simply being duped. There is not true choice. Not yet. All mamas are doing what they need to do to get by.
Oh, and happy belated birthday Tristan!
Jen

25 Anonymous March 9, 2006 at 3:25 pm

SO sad that THIS Is what the world has come to. There are time I WANT TO be a WORKING MOM So I could talk to adults and be out. BUT I love being a MOM. I admire my sister who Works and travels alot ..I mean alot. And she stillhas great kids. She got to be doing something right.
This is BULLSHIT And I’m a SAHM. This FUCKING world has judge people becasue One MOM works and ONE Doesn’t? What happened to raising kids the best way you can and IF YOU work there is a reason they work. To raise there kids in the best possible way FOR THEM not what one group of people think. Not to live out of a bag on some street.
Good article Dani. Sad that this is even a problem.

26 Anonymous March 9, 2006 at 3:25 pm

SO sad that THIS Is what the world has come to. There are time I WANT TO be a WORKING MOM So I could talk to adults and be out. BUT I love being a MOM. I admire my sister who Works and travels alot ..I mean alot. And she stillhas great kids. She got to be doing something right.
This is BULLSHIT And I’m a SAHM. This FUCKING world has judge people becasue One MOM works and ONE Doesn’t? What happened to raising kids the best way you can and IF YOU work there is a reason they work. To raise there kids in the best possible way FOR THEM not what one group of people think. Not to live out of a bag on some street.
Good article Dani. Sad that this is even a problem.

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