Thank you to Sandy at Imponderabilia of Actual Life for pointing me to this article by Mary Ann Roman which appeared in Parents Express magazine.
In her article, There are No Mommy Wars, she challenges the notion that there is a Mommy War being waged Out There pitting stay-at-home moms against those working outside the home (or breastfeeders against bottlefeeders or APers against Sleep Trainers or [Insert Parenting Choice Here.])
To readers of Literary Mama, this will, of course, not come as news. We know that there is no simple divide between mothers. We all love our children and try to find some sort of balance that allows us to mother our children and preserve our sanity. (And, yes, sometimes that means allowing them a steady diet of nothing but hot dog buns and ketchup.) But it is interesting to see a frank discussion of this issue in a very mainstream publication (Parents Express is one of those local freebie magazines you can pick up at the library or community center).
Roman interviews Miriam Peskowitz (author of The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars) and Anjali Enjeti-Sydow (a co-leader of Mothers & More) among others. Again, it is nice to see Miriam’s book and the work of Mothers and More (a group of SAHMs and WOHMs working together? How unexpected!) highlighted instead of that of one of the more devisive ‘Mothering’ authors we often see quoted in the mainstream press.
While the article works to dispels the notion that mothers are divided into two separate and distinct factions, it does talk about how many of us have experienced judgement of our mothering choices, sometimes even by other mothers.
But instead of attributing judging and feeling judged to some character flaw in women (Dr. Phil, the master of the Mom vs Mom show, always seems to like to talk about catfighting), the article points out society’s role in the matter. “I believe that the root of all mother judgment is the lack of support that women receive as mothers, particularly new mothers,” Enjeti-Sydow is quoted as saying. “If mothers had supportive social systems, whether that be family, friends, moms groups, understanding employers, and/or excellent child care, mothers would feel confident and secure in their decisions regarding their families, and would not feel the need to judge others.”
“One thing we can do to solve this is to stop judging each other and ourselves,” Peskowitz is quoted as saying. “We tend to divide from each other. Banding together to make a change is a good step. We tend to think of motherhood as a solitary issue, but to the extent in which we can talk together and act together, well, that will help all of us.”
Author and Literary Mama Senior Editor Heidi Raykeil (Confessions of a Naughty Mommy), offered a perfect example of how a potential “mommy war” situation turned into something much more positive and powerful. Raykeil had written an article for Parenting Magazine that writer Betsy Hart criticized in her article (which also ran in the Chicago Sun-Times). Raykeil sent off an email to refute some of the points made and, frankly, did not expect to hear back. Hart emailed her back, respectfully offering a further explanation of her views. They had several subsequent email conversations and discovered that while they have very different opinions when it comes to the issue of behaviour management (the topic of Heidi’s original article), they, in fact, have a lot in common. They are both writers. They are both mothers. They hold many of the same values dear.
In the end, they swapped copies of their books. Hart signed hers: “To Heidi, A fellow Warrior in these (always fun?) ‘Parenting Wars.'”