I think the mommy wars are a made up thing.
I do love the mental image of a bunch stay at home moms with colanders for helmets lobbing dirty diapers into office windows, while their working mom “enemies” throw sharpened pencil spears and build bombs out of breast pump supplies.
I’ve come to terms with my overactive imagination.
I still think the mommy wars were invented by bored reporters to get people to read more Redbook.
I’ve always been a working mom, and I have managed to co-exist with my stay-at-home mom friends just fine. The key to this shocking “truce” seems to be not judging one another’s choices. And having empathy. And being nice.
Also choosing not to read stupid articles about the imaginary mommy wars.
Then back-to-school happens, and the school volunteer forms come home. My new neighbor is the school volunteer coordinator who has told me at each of the 5 times we’ve spoken that she logged over 300 hours at the school last year.
That’s great. She’s very selfless. I’m so happy that there are parents who give of their time in that particular way.
I, however, have no intention of consistently volunteering at the school. I did help weed the school garden this summer, when I felt like it. I will probably send treats to classroom parties if there is time to make something. If someone asks me to kick in for a teacher gift, I will send some cash in my kids’ backpacks.
I will not attend the Halloween party or the PTA meeting. I will probably not sell wrapping paper or candy bars. I will not copy papers or staple worksheets together. I put the volunteer form in my recycle bin, because I choose to help as I can rather than commit at the beginning of the year to help with the book fair that is not yet scheduled.
If there is such a thing as the mommy wars (and I am not saying that I believe in them), school volunteering is the front line.
Here’s the thing. I truly believe that the most important parental involvement happens at home. I read out loud to my kids every night. I make them do their 20 minutes of homework. I make sure they eat nutritious food and get enough fresh air and exercise and sleep and participate in extra-curricular activities. And this alone I find fairly exhausting.
I think it would be exhausting even if I didn’t work. I don’t actually think I’d want to volunteer more at school if I was a stay at home mom, though I’m sure I would feel more pressure to do so. But I don’t think stay at home moms should volunteer unless they want to. I would never want anyone in the classroom with my kid out of a sense of obligation or because of social pressure.
In real life, plenty of working moms volunteer at school, and plenty of stay at home moms don’t, and I say that people should be allowed to do (or not do) what they feel, man.
Let’s all be nice, and respect each other’s choices, and do what we can.
I say make good humans, not imaginary wars.