There’s a topic I’ve always shied away from in this column — the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom debate. I never felt the need to broach this subject before because, honestly, I didn’t really feel it was an issue anymore. I thought we, as parents, had moved past all that trivial nonsense and decided all mothers play important roles. Period.
Yes, we all have different backgrounds, philosophies, lifestyles, preferences and opinions, but in the end, moms all want the same thing — for our children to live long, healthy, happy lives. As long as a mother is working hard to reach that ultimate goal and doing the best she can where her family is concerned, there’s no need for petty comparisons, subtle snubs or insulting insinuations, right? Well, apparently, I was wrong.
Here, I thought mothers of all varieties could live together in harmony, encourage each other and offer support as needed. But according to well-known parenting blogger Matt Walsh, that’s not the case.
Walsh’s recent post, “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” was written in defense of his wife’s choice to stay at home with their children — a noble, challenging and rewarding commitment, I must say. Instead of helping his readers see the value of all mothers; however, Walsh not-so-subtly insinuated that working moms can’t possibly be as serious, passionate and devoted to parenthood as stay-at-home moms. Within a day, his blog went viral and incited uproar among both camps, with working mothers posting comments and retorts criticizing the antagonistic blogger’s misguided notions, and stay-at-home moms thanking him for reiterating their importance to society.
Both sides’ arguments have merit; however, as a working mother, I do strenuously object to Walsh’s claim that only stay-at-home moms can “immerse themselves in the tiring, thankless, profoundly important job of raising children.”
His ode to the stay-at-home crowd, while well-founded, implies that women who work outside the home aren’t capable of complete devotion, and I take serious offense to that.
Mr. Walsh, I, too, am wholeheartedly committed to the “beautiful and complicated and challenging and terrifying and painful and joyous and essential” task of raising my child in hopes of helping her grow into a responsible, well-adjusted, kind, civic-minded, hard-working, contributing member of society. How dare you imply that because I also happen to excel at my career, I’m not as focused on nurturing my daughter’s spirit as a woman who does not have a career in the traditional sense?
It has taken mothers on both sides of this equation decades to come to a place of amicable co-existence, mutual respect, understanding and admiration. It’s a shame that with one poorly thought-out blog, Walsh drove a malicious wedge into that precariously balanced peace accord.
Make no mistake about it — I am in awe of stay-at-home moms. My grandmother, mother-in-law and both my sisters-in-law fell or fall into that category, and I’m incredibly proud of their accomplishments, triumphs, strengths, compassion and willingness to work tirelessly for the betterment of their families. I have learned countless lessons from these determined women, and I’m a better person for having witnessed approaches to child-rearing that differ from my own.
I hope mothers everywhere will see Matt Walsh’s hotly disputed blog as an example of the subversive, judgmental condescension that we should avoid engaging in at all costs. Instead of trying to make ourselves feel superior by exposing or even fabricating perceived glitches in different parenting philosophies and schools of thought, let’s take the high road here and remember that we can take away valuable lessons from those who differ from us personally and politically.
Parenting — all by itself — is hard enough without those of us who do it trying to outwardly shame each other for the choices we make and the circumstances that often are beyond our control.