I can’t remember exactly when we started to hear about the mommy wars, maybe 30 or so years ago? It was probably somewhere shortly after the feminist movement really took off in the 1970s and seems to fire up for a little while each decade or so.
We haven’t heard much about this issue until the rash of stories in the press about Malissa Mayer now of Yahoo and her new motherhood. She only took two weeks of maternity leave; she has a nursery (and presumably a nanny or two) in the room next to her office so that she can work whatever hours strike her fancy, and so on. Suddenly the mommy wars are raging once again.
I have spent some time in each trench, as it were. I was blessed to be a stay-at-home mom while my boys were young and couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t understand those mothers that would off-handedly say that they would be bored to tears without the mental stimulation of an outside job. Maybe I was too dull witted. Then circumstances required that I go to work full time. I didn’t understand the remarks that working moms deliberately left their children in programs right up to the last minute because they were selfish. Maybe I was too selfish.
It is in our nature to make comparisons between our choices and those of the people around us in similar circumstances or life stages. Illusory superiority, or the belief that we each better than average, is perhaps one underlying explanation for the mommy wars – we must believe that we made the best choice. The flip side of illusory superiority is that nagging fear that we don’t measure up in some elemental way.
Why do we tear ourselves and each other up about this when we could learn so much from each other instead? Is this the female version of males’ ‘mine is bigger than yours’? Or is this the media making much ado about a non-issue?
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