How I Switched Sides in the Mommy Wars
I have an overinflated sense of self. The result of this is that when I make a decision, I’m convinced it’s the right one. So, when I got pregnant with my first kid at 28 and decided to turn down an acceptance to law school and devote myself solely to running the home front, I was positive this was the best option.
Being an overachiever, I doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on this decision. Five years and four kids later, I was the mommy master. I could maneuver four kids in a grocery store with a Bjorn, shopping cart, and stroller (it was an engineering feat). I made every meal, read four books a night, and visited every museum between NY and DC. I even made my own baby food.
What I wouldn’t give to go back and lecture my younger self.
I loved every minute. I admit to requiring a bottle or two of chardonnay on some exhausting days, but it was a contented sort of tired. I engaged in some serious confirmation bias reading articles about the “Mommy Wars” that pitted stay-at-home moms against working moms. Somehow, everything I read confirmed that kids raised by stay-at-home moms displayed more positive behaviors socially, emotionally, and academically. And I needed to believe that.
Navigating sudden unemployment.
A weird thing happened on my way to mommy sainthood. My kids grew up. They went from school to wrestling practice to homework to bed. The 24/7 children I brought home from the hospital only needed me for rides and meals.
Let’s be clear: This was a win. My goal has always been to raise adults, not overgrown children. To see my children prepare meals, do laundry, or command control of conversations was true happiness. I’m so proud of them my heart hurts.
But back to me. My kids were busy, my husband was busy, and I was bored. I was 42 years old, with four kids aged 8-13, and I hadn’t worked in over a decade.
Now what? And don’t say, “Follow your passion!” My passion is drinking wine on the beach at sunset. I like it, and I’m good at it, but I’m pretty sure it won’t bring fulfillment or a paycheck.
So, I started talking to people, asking around. "What do you do for a living? What does that mean you do on a day-to-day basis? Why do you like it?" I had a couple of informational interviews, but nothing jumped at me.
[Related: Forget Passion: Find Your Schtick]
Inspiration comes knocking.
Spring came around, and I began looking for club lacrosse programs for my boys. For the uninitiated, club lacrosse is the season after the regular season, when kids try out for regional teams in an effort to join the traveling circus of lacrosse tournaments.
Every person I talked to had a different club team suggestion. There are at least half a dozen programs to choose from within 45 minutes of where I live, so I went to the web to find the answer. What I found instead was a surprising lack of information. There was no complete listing of options in my area, and there weren’t any sites that provided feedback on those options. Where was Angie’s List for after-school activities?
And there it was. Inspiration. I was going to build the resource that parents needed. And I did. It’s called KidGooRoo.
It happened slowly at first. Myself and two co-founders working two-to-three hours a day identifying product specs, interviewing developers, and mocking up designs. Today, it’s a fully-functional entity. We have hundreds of thousands of people that use our site, and hundreds of thousands of businesses listed.
I went from being a full-time mom making every meal from scratch to the mom who hightails it to Acme at 6:30 to grab the last rotisserie chicken. My kids order their own dance tights from Amazon, hustle for rides home from practice, and self-schedule playdates.
The view from the other side.
I’m officially on the other side of the Mommy Wars…and loving this side, too. Wanna know why? Because I like my job a lot. My husband and kids know it, and they are rooting for me. I’m not just "Momtastic," who can organize trips, cook good food, and speed down the parkway. I’m also the mom who can get dressed in big girl clothes and come home to share successes and failures.
To all of you out there saying, “Give it three more years and see if you still like working!” or “When the stress of missing a kid’s play, the dog barf that no one cleaned up, and realizing you haven’t changed your oil in years makes you want to scream, then come back and say you like being a working mom!” I’m going to fall back on my overinflated sense of self again.
My experience in the Mommy Wars gives points to both sides. If you haven’t been on both sides, I encourage you reserve judgment. God willing, it’s a long life we’re living, and you never know when you might emigrate.
All I know is what I’ve done and what I’ve seen. From that empirical evidence alone, you’ll never convince me that one parenting style is better than another. I’ve seen stay-at-home moms who are disasters, raising kids with little respect, who I assure you will be lifetime liabilities to their parents. And I've seen stay-at-home moms with saint-like patience and Olympian steel centers. Those same dynamics exist in the working parent world. It’s not the job that determines the parent; it’s the person that determines the parent.
Here’s what I propose. Turn the Mommy Wars into a revolution. Stay-at-home moms and working moms unite! Parental leave, equal pay, access to daycare, good schools, safe neighborhoods – all moms support these core family ideals. Think about the power we’d possess if we combined forces and turned our mom power outward. We could raise some kickass kids and have kickass careers. Who’s in?
Alexandra Miles Skove is the Co-Founder and CEO of KidGooRoo.
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