By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist
Did you blink and miss the “Mommy Wars” this week, which the media tried to launch? They’re so cute, the media, running memes up the flag pole to see just who will salute. But, as often is the case, we women were sorely underestimated in our ability to see and call shenanigans. The “Mommy Wars” just didn’t seem to put the fire in the bellies of American women. I think we were too busy with laundry to watch a lot of the coverage.
First of all, I would like to point out the annoying quality of the term “Mommy Wars” anyway. I don’t like anyone but my children calling me “Mommy” (it’s creepy even when Hubs does it), so enough with the “Mommy bloggers,” “Mommy Wars,” etc. I’m not “mommying.” Isn’t it just parenting? “Mommy” somehow doesn’t sound like a power player.
I also find it fascinating that there is an ongoing argument about whether mothers should hold paid employment outside of child-rearing and domestic management, but there’s no discussion about whether or not Daddy should “come home” (it’s made to sound like if a woman works somewhere besides at her house she has r-u-n-n-o-f-t). Where are the villagers with pitchforks for the men who dare keep their office job after the baby is born? And if I’m a “stay at home mom,” why am I in the damned mini-van so much? But I digress.
Don’t know to what “Mommy” media frenzy I am referring? In case you haven’t noticed, this is a presidential election year (wake me in December, please), and that means pandering season. It also means a lot of meat puppets out shouting nonsense over each other until someone makes a sound bite that can rotate for the next news cycle.
So enter Hilary Rosen, Democrat. I still don’t know what her job is, per se, except she’s supposed to be a some kind of media and communication expert, and she’s supposed to get me to vote for Obama. She could have been CNN’s Senior Fallopial Correspondent for all I know, but all of the sudden, this Rosen person has said during one of these many cable news yammerfests that Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, mother of five, has, quote, “never worked a day of her life.”
Cue the sturm und drang. Now, I believe Rosen was trying to say Ann Romney is a stranger to what most women go through and has never worried financially for herself or her family, having never having had to depend on a paid career to support them. You’d think a communication expert would have more expertly communicated this concept. Alas. The Romney camp was all over Rosen’s statement like white on…well, Romney.
Clearly, I was told, there is a “Mommy War” between what the media calls “working mothers” and “stay at home mothers.” Elitist, shrubbery-hugging, latte-sipping, penis-envying, arugula-munching working mothers think stay at home mothers are reading The National Enquirer, eating bon bons, and gossiping over the fence with Gladys Kravitz while kowtowing to their men. Stay at home mothers are contemptuous of cold-hearted career-driven harpies who want to be men, care about money and an expensive lifestyle more than their families, and have other people to raise their children.
To which the collective “Meh” was raised. Because it turns out women are women before they’re Republican or Democratic. And mothers? Well, we could snicker at the clearly amped-up umbrage because we all know: if you’re a mother, or a father, for that matter, who cares….of any color, race, creed, or tax bracket…you are working your ass off. And we all know it. We’re not turning on one another. Sorry, mainstream media. That dog, as Dr. Phil so colorfully puts it, just won’t hunt.
Sure, I may wish I had Ann Romney’s millions, but I’d rather be poorer than a church mouse than raise five sons. Three kids has almost left me insane and exhausted. Five? You would have had to strap ME to the top of the car instead of Seamus the Irish setter. Even with a nanny apiece. Because as any mother knows, there’s Mom…and there’s Not The Mom. It happens from birth. Even the most progressive of fathers, intent with matching diaper change to diaper change with his wife will one day hear these words: “NO! I! ONLY! WANT! MOMMY!”
It made me wonder if the people behind this “Mommy War” story are even aware of the realities of how parenting happens these days. There are no two armies of mothers, like Dr. Suess’ Star Bellied Sneetches and Those Without Stars Upon Thars. There are women…and men…who work. We work full time, part time, at home, at our children’s schools and day care centers. There are people with the resources to choose not to draw a paycheck while their children are living with them and make child-rearing their profession. There are people who have absolutely no financial wiggle room for this option to be available.
As usual, it seems those in government are a good bit behind in the times in assuming American homes only look two possible ways in this century. The “Mommy Wars” non-controversy was exactly that, because it harkens from a different time than now. Now, we call it parenting. And it’s the hardest job anyone will ever work, male, female, rich, poor or otherwise. Let’s just hope this silly brouhaha has raised the collective American conscious regarding how much effort it does, indeed, take to be a parent, whether or not you’re paid to do something else as well.