Matter Chatter

Mommy Wars, Again. Really?

Earlier this month, I read a blog about mommy wars. I quickly clicked away, hoping never to see it again. But the blogger went on a morning show. And there was a newspaper article about it, and my cousin in her wonderful way blogged about it….there’s no doubt that the alleged hostility between working moms and stay-at-home moms is news again. To summarize: according to the theory, stay at home moms think working moms are selfish and are damaging their children; working moms think stay at home moms are boring and are living a sad, sheltered suburban nightmare.

The first time I read about “the wars” was in 2001, after my own return to work following the birth of my first baby, sweet little Grace. Immediately I became wary of my new neighborhood friends – many of whom were stay at homes. Evidently, despite their warm and welcoming smiles, secretly they thought I was selfish and hurting my child by going to work, while they stayed home and did flashcards and watched Baby Einstein videos with their offspring.

As time would teach me, nobody but me was judging me, and eight years later those neighbors are among my best and dearest friends. Whether I work or not has no weight in our friendships, they watch my kids in a pinch when our nanny is sick or I’m out of town and my husband can’t get home, and I help them with their kids when they need to go to a school event or meeting at night. I admire them for having the stamina to stay home with their kids all day, for being “aunties” to my children, and for being the kind of friends and support system that I literally could not live my life without.

My experience is that motherhood is a bond of similar experiences (sleeplessness, worries, discipline techniques, funny stories, cute pictures, big dreams for our children, embarrassing moments) more than it is a battleground over what makes us different (home vs. working). And in my own corner of the world, my female friends cheer each other on in our own, personal successes – whether that’s mastering a new art class, running a half-marathon, or helping a storage company become a global breakthrough technology company.

So why write about it on our Matter blog? I think the media is doing a disservice to women by giving this story life. Today’s workforce – and the PR industry in particular – is full of bright young women, who may someday decide to have a child. I would hate for any woman, including my daughter, to make her choice about children and work based on the misguided notion that having a child means that you either are doomed to be bored at home, or face a life of apologizing for selfishly working.

It’s time to get over this non-story and move on before a new generation of women starts second-guessing their decisions instead of focusing on achieving their own personal best, which will undoubtedly make for happy children – whether mommy goes to work or stays at home.

  • Theresa Freeman

    Great post. The SV Moms blog ( recently weighed in on this topic saying the only “war” is the one that goes on is INSIDE of us mommies – the soul searching in our own “battlefield of the brain” between what we want, what we need, what we enjoy, etc. Just like you say, “Nobody was judging me but me.” I went through that fight the year I stayed home and “didn’t work” after my first child was born. I think the story gets play in the media every now and then because it is one of those core human questions. The answer, however, is not the same for everyone. I agree with you that search for a single solution is foolish!

  • Meghan Wilker

    Great post, Patty. Hear, hear!

    I think all the ways in which we support each other (moms or not, at-home or at-work) need to get much more attention. I have the same wonderful relationship with the moms in my ‘hood and it is a beautiful thing. “Mommy wars”, pffffft!