Dear Working Mother,

I’ve unintentionally started a war.

A war of words…a “mummy war”, which until this week I didn’t think really existed.  I’m not so sure now.

I recently wrote an article for Mumsnet.co.uk.  The editor asked me to write something uplifting, a tribute to all working mothers.  Her instruction indicated that the article should be a rallying cry and highlight the positives to both working mothers and their children.

With a clear brief in hand I set about writing the best and most positive piece I could.  I was happy with the outcome.  The editor was very happy with the final piece.

You can read the piece here.

And then came the reaction from the Mumsnet community.  Some of the mothers (actually quite a lot) seem to think it was an attack on stay-at-home-mothers.  Some of the working mothers ripped the article to shreds too.  And thankfully a few people jumped to my defence and understood what I was trying to get across in the piece.  Here’s a brief selection of the comments:

“I could rip that entire article apart. But I’d rather pull my own toenails out with rusty pliers whilst spending time with the other financially dependant, impatient, lonely, non contributing SAHMs that I know that are setting a shit example to the kids by not working, staying at home and having the incredible misfortune of actually having that choice.”

“The article doesn’t say anything bad about SAHMs…In fact it doesn’t say anything at all about SAHMs. It’s just a list of benefits of being a working mum. What’s wrong with us working mums getting a boost and hearing some positive things, are we supposed to mope around feeling like we’ve made a bad choice? I’m sure there are plenty of articles out there about the benefits of being a SAHM too.”

“Why is it so smug to celebrate it?

Why can’t working mothers be proud and enjoy reading about other proud working mums?

Yes it is uplifting, why are some sahm so quick to get on the defensive? 

It IS possible to be there for your children, nurture them, enjoy all their special moments AND work at the same time.”

“This particular gem got me – ‘
You’re a role model for your kids
Working mothers are doing a very important job (in conjunction to their actual job) – they are teaching their children the value of hard work, decision-making and compromise.’

Am I not then by staying at home?”

“There was some drivel on the radio about this ‘debate’ yesterday. The only right answer is the one that works for you and your family. And the debate should focus on how families can access choice – flexible working, affordable childcare, affordable housing.”

“I have worked FT since my children were tiny. With hardly any problem. The approach of puberty, hormones, friendship issues, plus a growing awareness of “what my friends do” has caused no end of strife. Don’t rest of your laurels – yes it’s a good message to give your kids but don’t believe they sometimes won’t resent you for it.”

“I work.

The role model thing is utter BS.

In the ideal world, the children are better off with their parents. In the ideal world, we would both work part time and look after DC ourselves without needing to outsource their care.”

I genuinely thought the mummy wars were a figment of the media’s imagination.  I’d never been privy or part of this kind of verbal barrage before.  I’ve got friends who breast feed, co-sleep, baby wear and practise attachment parenting.  And I’ve got friends who formula feed, never take the baby in the bed and stick rigidly to the routine.  Some of my friends work and some don’t.  I don’t have an opinion either way on how other families do things.  I firmly believe each family should make whatever decisions they feel necessary to ensure a happy household.

So this got me thinking…I’ve never had another mother challenge my way of doing things to my face but are we all just looking for an outlet and the opportunity to unload?  Do online forums offer that channel to frustrated mothers?  When did it all become such a competition?  And why do women feel that one woman’s choice reflects poorly on their life choice or is an attack of how they do things?

I’d love to know your thoughts on the piece.

Sincerely,

Martina Perry
The Working Mother