Friday, June 8, 2012

This Is Why We Have Mommy Wars

I was at a function the other day and sat next to a mother who works full time outside the home.  As we were chatting, she shared this nugget:

"When my kids were younger, I scheduled a camp every single week during the summer for them.  My husband was home, but I couldn't imagine expecting him to do the childcare."

Did you catch that?  The childcare.  

I just stared at her.  She obviously thought she insulted me and proceeded to give me the full palm "stop"  hand gesture and rushed to say, "I completely respect what you do and know you do the most important job, I just couldn't do it."

Now, here's the thing.  She did not insult me.  She stunned me, but did not insult me.

My first gut-emotion when she called being home with the kids "childcare" was sadness.  I feel desperately sad for her and her children.  First, those kids do not get to lay around and rest during the summer.  They go-go-go through the school year and then hit the summer, only to go-go-go some more.  When do they rest?  When do they have a chance to get bored and learn to expand their imaginations?  When do they get to just "be?"  It is hard to "be" when you have a constant schedule.  When do they get to sleep as long as they want?  When do they get to set up a tent in the backyard or stay up all night with a flashlight and a book?  When do they have... summer?

Mostly, I feel sad that this woman honestly does not know the joy of sitting around with her kids and just "being."  Has she ever sat on the couch with the kids and laughed at Spongebob for a couple hours?  That's kinda hard when you're working 60+ hours a week and have the kids in camps all summer.  Does she know the deep satisfaction of a child curling up in her lap and not having to be anywhere but in that moment - for as long as that moment might last?  Has she ever gotten up in the middle of the night with a sick child and been thankful to God that she did not have to be anywhere in the morning, but could nurse her sick one through the night?

As she talked and backpedaled, I added up how much all those camps cost for a couple kids.  They probably spend several thousand dollars by the end of the summer.  Even if I wanted to put my kids in a camp each week, we just do not have the money.

We are a one-income household.  My husband works full time, but I am not bringing in any money.  Being home is not a simple "luxury."  It is a sacrifice.  Our cars are 8 years old.  I do not have a lot of new clothes.  My kids do not have multiple pairs of shoes.  We live on a budget that requires me to cook from scratch for most meals.  

Whether a woman chooses to work outside the home or not is immaterial to me.  How she chooses to view either side of the equation is.  What struck me most was her use of the word "childcare."  When I spoke with my husband about the encounter, he responded with "doesn't she mean child-raising?"

The Mommy Wars do not continue to rage because women have to work, but because some women refuse to see that raising one's own children is not a lesser-than activity.  The mindset that spending time with the kids, getting creative in how to spend that time, is not menial work for the under-educated, but noble work.  Her Freudian Slip gave me a glimpse into her mindset that made me feel sad for her and her kids.  

And she thought she insulted me.

~ G

1 comment:

  1. I think she insulted fathers. A father cannot be expected to care for his children?! Good gracious. What has this world come to?



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