Mommy Civil Wars: Mothering In the Age of GuiltAmy Corbett Storch
Yesterday I read this amazing post by Jane Roper, right here on Babble, about the “missing voices” in the (stupid, tiresome, dear God please talk about something else already) mommy wars: The disadvantaged women who have no choices, no safety net, no options when it comes to raising their children. The women who are just desperately paddling to stay above water, and to whom our incessant bickering about breast vs. formula, homemade organic baby food vs. baby-led weaning, staying home vs. working must sound so steeped in unknown, foreign levels of privilege. They probably think we’re all from Mars.
But you know, the nice part of Mars. Near the country club.
I read it and raised an EFF YEAH fist, and took a few moments to really, truly, deeply appreciate how good I have it. I’ve been complaining a little lately about…oh, horribly spoiled things, brought on by my accepting of a consulting job that BOOM, doubled the number of hours I work in a week, literally overnight. Oh my God, I’m so bu-u-sy. I don’t have enough childcare hours, I’m working at night when the kids are in bed, I have in-person meetings to get to and dress for and I’m tied to my phone and my email more than ever and gaaaaahhhhh I have deadlines leaking out of my ears.
Meanwhile, I’m still working from home in my chosen profession, providing financial security for myself and college funds for my kids, while still making their breakfasts every morning, nursing my baby, meeting my oldest son at the bus stop every afternoon, shuttling them as-needed to whatever extra-curricular activities they want, and generally having the most perfect situation possible for myself and my family. We compost and cloth diaper and eat organic and also have premium cable and an Xbox.
Who’s got two thumbs and a ton of white privilege? THIS GIRL.
And how does this manifest, most of the time? Well, I felt a little guilty for buying (organic, HFCS-and-preservative-free) bread at the grocery store this week instead of baking a loaf from scratch. And then really guilty when the baby started refusing to nurse at bedtime, dropping my breastfeeding status down yet another notch.
And I felt terrible this morning when Noah misunderstood something I said and thought that I was going to pick him up directly from school, in the car, instead of meeting him at the bus stop. There were tears of disappointment, because apparently getting picked up from school in the car is so, so much better than riding the bus and walking home with me the rest of the way. Please, Mommy. Pleeeeease pick me up at school in the car.
I can’t pick him up from school in the car today. It’s complicated, but I can’t. His school is all of five minutes away, but I need him to ride the bus and arrive home 20 minutes later.
I fully realize these are silly, ridiculous things to feel guilty about. I’m embarrassed to even type them out, since they are steeped in that pesky privilege thing and probably all sound fake-humble-braggy. They aren’t monopolizing my thoughts by any means, because WHATEVER, SELF, but if I try make it through a full day without having to shake off at least one zap of a guilt zinger for letting things land beneath my super-high-perfectionist standards…I can’t.
I am so, so tired of the mommy wars, and can wind up and spew out a zillion logical arguments about how pointless they are and why we all need to chill the freak out. Ugh! Stop judging each other! Start looking at the world outside of yourself!
And yet here I am, waging the same war inside my own brain, shooting miniature guilt-arrows at myself. And I have no idea how to enforce a cease-fire in there.
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