I like Kathleen Deveny's pragmatic view on the media-created "mommy wars" that add peripheral stress to the already full lives of moms with careers. In Yummy vs. Slummy (Newsweek, August 13, 2007), the single working mother writes:
"I am bored to death with talking, hearing and reading about motherhood. I know all about the war between working mothers and women who stay at home with their children (though I see little real evidence of it). I'm fed up with snotty message-board posts... We have become Narcissist Mommies, obsessed with defending our parenting choices. Yes, motherhood is exhausting. Sure, husbands could be more helpful and bosses are always demanding something on the day your kid comes home with lice. The challenge of finding good, affordable child care is no joke. But we didn't exactly invent kids. "No one can ever understand how difficult it is," ... "But once you are a mother, you need to get over it. There's no need to whine about it."" (emphasis added)
Well said. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us is to realize that our life is what it is and to set about making the best of it and enjoying it. Many of the popular books on motherhood/working moms acknowledge that there is no universal best way to be a mother - but they also subtly imply that somehow we should be able to define and create a "right" situation for ourselves at the individual level. In reality, our needs, decisions, and daily actions are complex and intertwined. There will never be one right thing to do - not even on the individual level.
Instead of treating our lives as a battleground between good and evil, we need to see ourselves as explorers on a journey . We can scan another mom's map to get an idea of the terrain we might encounter ahead, but ultimately - as explorers - we need to create our own path. The inevitable twists, turns, and occasional backtracking are what makes the journey uniquely ours.
I wouldn't have it any other way.