This is a memoir writing project created by Ann Dee Ellis. We write 8 minute memoirs based on her prompts. All the cool kids are doing it. Today's prompt: Games.
I've noticed there are games we play as mothers. Or rather, a game. The Best Mother Game. I know it will sound simple and reductive to blame patriarchy, but patriarchy is the team captain of the games- where we run at each other and beat each other senseless just to prove that our way is the right way.
Last week I participated in the strangest discussion. First the woman argued that any mother who put their career in front of their family was a bad parent.
People pushed back- very, very few mothers put their careers before their families. Rather, the career is a means of supporting the children they love. If they are lucky and privileged, they support their families doing something they love. (This goes for Dads too.)
The game changed. The woman argued that FINE, working moms were okay, but not those who worked while they had young children at home.
The defensive pushed back.
OK FINE. You can work with young children, but not LITTLE BABIES. It's child abuse to leave a six-week-old in daycare!
(I left a six- week- old in daycare.)
Later, I read an article about how stay at home moms are happier. I thought about that. I don't think there is a lot of support for working moms, except maybe in mythical Scandinavian countries or if you work at Facebook.
Whenever I've been unhappy with work/life balance, it's because I felt unsupported in one way or another. I don't think the answer is for women to stay home (unless they want to, in which case, YOU GO LADY,) but to make sure mothers (and all parents) are supported in creating strong families and strong communities and strong workforces.
That's not an exciting game. And patriarchy-the rabid fan egging on the mothers as they slam in to each other head-first-won't be very entertained.
I don't want to play the game. Despite the occasional doubts and worries hauntings from Julie B. Beck, I know that I'm doing the right thing for my family. I don't need to knock anyone else down.