I made a solemn vow not to tread anywhere near the Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney brouhaha that erupted recently, thrusting the infamous Mommy Wars to the fore yet again. But I simply couldn’t resist. Not because I have a compelling desire to foist my views upon anyone with regard to the hackneyed “stay-at-home vs. working mother” debate. Because I don’t. Feel compelled to foist, that is.
At any rate, every parent works—regardless of specific geography, formal validation or economic gain. Every parent, ostensibly, must deal with explosive diapers, projectile vomiting and curfew breaches. What’s more, every parent is surrounded by a different set of circumstances and brings a host of core beliefs to the equation, and must therefore make decisions about raising children alongside careers (or not) based upon the unique microcosm within which they live. Indeed, one size does not fit all. And for that matter as family dynamics go, one parent’s crazy quilt is another’s richly woven tapestry.
For the record, mine’s as crazy as they come. But I digress.
My niggling itch to weigh in on such a hot button issue stemmed from the unlikeliest of events (i.e. a brief, yet telling conversation that transpired just before the school bus arrived one morning, as we wrangled over the issue of wearing pink Converse sneakers and a hoodie, or not—an exchange during which my child shared with me an earnest wish in a moment of quiet desperation: “I just want to be normal, Mom. I want to look like everyone else, and be like everyone else. I just want to fit in.”)
Of course, her plea had nothing whatsoever to do with the contentious headlines or barbed commentary that had been bandied about via social media following CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 discussion. But it got me thinking: isn’t that what everyone wants to some extent—moms, especially? To be viewed as normal. To blend in with the masses—a good soldier, fighting the good fight to raise upstanding citizens, deep thinkers and impassioned individuals—and to do so without fear of censure, public or otherwise. To go about the important business of nurturing a child as best we can, without being ostracized or judged by those who “do it differently” or perhaps with more fanfare. To be ordinary and unassuming, as it were—but with extraordinary results.
I’d like to think this is what a majority of mothers aspire to achieve as we muddle through the uncertainties of parenthood—and that when all is said and done what we really care about revolves around growing a healthy child (or children), providing for their needs and instilling within them a sense of wonder, individuality and a profound appreciation for life.
Never mind self-doubt, the unmerciful beast-of-a-thing that threatens to consume us as we step into our mothering roles each day, or the embarrassment of guilt we heap upon ourselves as a matter of course. Whether we feel inadequate as providers (having chosen the stay-at-home path), woefully unavailable to our children (having opted to re-enter the workforce), or, dare I say it, miserably conflicted (as we endeavor to do both in the very same instant), may be of little consequence in the end. That said, maybe it’s time for the Mommy Wars to come to a close. The combatants are, perhaps, as tired as their arguments anyway. Old news now, it would seem to most.
Besides, it’s far more productive to focus on the common ground that lies between the two camps, methinks. Some of the best advice on the subject I’ve stumbled upon of late comes from Dr. Peggy Drexler, “Mom is Alright: Redefining the Modern-Day Mom.” In her Huffington Post piece she offers parents five basic tenets we would do well to adopt: 1) Refuse to be judged. 2) Be yourself. 3) Make time for what’s really important. 4) Be your best you. 5) Be active and thoughtful.
Rest assured, she’s fed up with the swirl of controversy, too.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live (eager to turn the page on the Mommy Wars). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.
Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel