Dear Everyone: Here’s Why I Don’t Want To Read Your Crappy Opinions On What Mothers Should Do

25 Mar

Earlier today, Lydia Lovric, a Montreal-based “columnist, talk-radio host, stay-at-home mom,” wrote a scornful response to piece from 2013 about why Sasha Emmons chooses to work outside of the home. Don’t ask me why Lovric is responding to a two year old article, because I’m as baffled as you are. I’m sure she has her reasons, such as maybe she some type of wizard who exists outside of the linear bounds of time and space; this would explain why she is writing about the evils of mothers who work outside the home in 2015.

You guys, it’s 2015. It has been two thousand and fifteen years since the alleged birth of Christ and we are still having this goddamn argument about whether or not a mother is morally obligated to stay home with her kids, should finances permit. And as much as it’s tempting to write off Lovric as a Throw-Back Thursday with outdated opinions, the truth is that the question of mothers working outside the home is still burning up parenting blogs, websites and message boards. As far as parenting wank goes, the debate about whether or not mothers should stay home is right up there with breastfeeding, circumcision and cloth diapering. Lovric is certainly not alone in her belief that women who choose to work are selfish.

There is nothing more disheartening to me than watching women tear each other down, especially within the context of parenting. It’s sad and it’s gross and it’s the purest example of internalized misogyny that there is. There’s no benefit to these discussions; they’re just endless cycles of women shitting on other women’s happiness and security under the guise of concern for The Children. What’s even more enraging is how gendered these arguments are – even when they say that it’s best for “a parent” to stay home with their kids, what they really mean is mother.

I’m not going to get into the layers and layers of privilege that have allowed Lovric to write this article. I’m not going to address her claim that “you need not be rich in order to live off one income.” I’m only going to mention in passing how fucking shitty it is to refer to a mother as “absent” because she works outside the home – I’ll just say that I know my fair share of absent parents, and I promise you they are not out there working to pay the bills and feed their kids. I’m not even going to discuss the fact that plenty of single mothers raise their kid on one income and, by necessity rather than choice, work outside of the home. Instead, I’m going to talk about how gross and oppressive our persistent cultural biases about motherhood are.`

No one ever says that fathers are selfish for working outside the home.

No one is writing think pieces about how “absent fathers” letting strangers raise their kids just so that they can pursue an enjoyable and fulfilling career.

No dads are out there penning thoughtful letters to their children about why they chose to work. If they were, they’d probably read something like this:

Dear Daughter,

I chose to work after you were born because it literally never occurred to me to do otherwise. I certainly did not consider disrupting everything I have known and loved about my life outside of the home because I decided to have kids. I do not feel guilt or shame for my decision, because why would I?

Much love,

Dad

As a culture, we have a weird obsession with women being “selfish.” Mothers especially are prone to accusations of selfishness any time they make a choice that doesn’t directly and obviously benefit their children. Even when mothers are encouraged to practice self-care, it’s often approached with the idea that feeling happy and rested will make them better partners and parents. And while that may be true, why can’t a woman ever just be happy for her own damn self? Dudes don’t need to come up with excuses for why they should be able to do things they enjoy, and women shouldn’t either.

And by the way, here’s a list of the reasons Emmons gave for going back to work that Lovric found “selfish”:

“I work because I love it.”

“I work because scratching the itch to create makes me happy, and that happiness bleeds over into every other area, including how patient and engaged and creative a mother I am.”

“I work because this nice house and those gymnastics lessons and those sneakers you need to have are all made possible by two incomes.”

“I work because I want you and your brother to be proud of me.”

So: just to clarify, Emmons is selfish because she enjoys her job, a dual income helps pay for the lifestyle her family enjoys, and she hopes that the work she does will make her children proud of her.

In what world is it selfish to love your job? What is it about women specifically that makes them terrible people if they aren’t prioritizing their children 24/7? I mean, yes of course parenting involves some amount of sacrifice, but the idea that you should only live for your children is a pretty dangerous road to go down and, again, not one that any dudes are being told they have to travel.

Lovric’s counter to all of Emmons’ selfish reasons for working includes the following:

“I stay home because although writing and radio did make me extremely happy, I knew that you seemed happier when I was around. And your happiness was more important to me than my own. And making you happy also made me happy.”

“I stay home because I want you to learn that family and love are more important than material possessions. A large home or fancy sneakers will not make up for an absent mother.”

“I stay home because I want you and your brothers to be proud of me because I gave up something I truly loved in order to put you first.”

In short: a healthy relationship dynamic between a parent and child does not involve the parent supporting their child financially by working outside the home, but does include expecting your children to appreciate the fact that you made the ultimate life sacrifice for them.

I am just so exasperated by the continuing circle of shaming mothers for whatever choices they make. It seems like no matter what, the conclusion is always “MOMS: STILL PRETTY MUCH THE WORST?” It’s the 21st century and at the very least we can all agree that we want to raise kids who are proud of us, so let’s work on building each other up us parents and caregivers and mentors instead of fighting to push each other off the Pedestal of Motherhood. We’ll all be better for it.

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102 Responses to “Dear Everyone: Here’s Why I Don’t Want To Read Your Crappy Opinions On What Mothers Should Do”

  1. heyitsjojo7 March 25, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    Reblogged this on stopyourstoryisntoveryet.

  2. Rachel March 25, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

    I want to share this with everyone I know and shout it from the mountain tops. Thank you thank you for writing this!

  3. SeriousRachel March 25, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on Contemporary Contempt and commented:
    Another insightful essay from Anne Theriault on gendered social pressure and how to break the cycle of shaming women who have children. READ THIS.

  4. A Silent Woods March 25, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    I had an unusual opportunity. I was a working mom, a student mom, and a stay at home mom all in the process of having my children and I can honestly say:
    *IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE!*
    All my kids are teens now and they are ALL distant and moody lol! When they were toddlers they were ALL sweet but precocious! And as adults they’ll probably all be well adjusted.
    We must do what’s best for our circumstances and be present for our children when we’re with them!
    Good job to you for building all mom’s up no matter their circumstances!

    • ERose March 26, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      Both my parents worked, but both my parents made a huge effort to spend time with my sister and me when they were home, and I credit a lot of my ability to be independent but able to depend on others when that’s necessary to the fact that I had that balance.
      Time to learn and grow when my parents weren’t there and wouldn’t be there for a few hours was really important. Being in situations where I couldn’t run to Mom was something I think was really key to developing my own problem solving and coping skills.
      But the balance was that I knew always that when my parents left, they would come back. And, later on, when I left, I could always come back. I never had any reason to doubt that both of my parents loved me with all their hearts and that they would always be there, if not now, later, and if I needed them, as soon as they could arrive.
      Basically, if you are a good parent, you’ll be a good parent no matter what your life choices dictate. A family works or doesn’t by its own merit and choices, not by a set of rules.

  5. (mal)Contented Mother March 25, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

    Well bloody said! I have no idea who either of these women are but Lovric seems like a *insert non-gendered insult that I can’t currently think of here*
    Great to discover this blog too, fab writing!

  6. thejournalofholly March 25, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

    Excellent piece, I receive CV’s of women on a regular basis who are trying to get back on the career lader after a five year break to raise a family. These women are extremely intelligent, talented and highly qualified, however they just don’t seem to be shortlisted for the positions that they were doing pre motherhood. I tried to investigate in to the reasons why and the general consensus seemed to be “women with young families tend to be less reliable and less willing to commit to overtime than women without dependants” and I can’t help but think that fathers aren’t looked upon in this fashion and live in hope that these types of stereo types will one day dissapear.

  7. Felicia March 25, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    “the idea that you should only live for your children is a pretty dangerous road to go down ”

    I’m going to bump that up to VERY dangerous. Great blog:)

  8. em4minions March 25, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    parenting is so fucking hard & involves so many decisions that–i know–keep me awake at night and have me convinced that i’m always making the wrong choice–so much that i have a rule i stick to: don’t tell someone else how to parent.
    great article! thank you! wouldn’t it be cool if we could all support each other & feel confidant that we were doing the right thing for our specific situation?
    sigh.

  9. jennjefferys March 25, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on Jenn has opinions..

  10. Erica Podjasek March 25, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    My comment to the “Why I don’t work” article was: Or she could have said “I’m a stay at home mom because, luckily, women get to decide what is best for them and their family these days. Because I didn’t have to work to put a roof over your head and food on the table like many families, I got to make the choice that was truly best for me and stay home with you. Other families might have a dad that stays home or maybe both parents work, and that’s ok too. The important thing is that everyone feels loved and valued and is happy.” Because your choice is right for you, doesn’t make it right for everyone.

    Because of the needs of my husband and children I HAVE to stay home (disabled veteran and both kids are special needs) and I wish desperately for the opportunity to go to work. I need the outlet and the break from being a “caregiver” all the time. Truly, in this day and age, we should all be able to make the choice that is best for us and our family and not have it be such a big flipping issue!

  11. imisssteph March 25, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this article! I truly don’t understand why it is another woman’s business to judge another woman’s decision on how she lives and raises her kids. Snap judgement is so toxic. Most of the times, these mommies who judge others think they/their approaches are somehow superior without fully understanding that everyone is different, and that everyone’s needs/life is different than their own. They see things through the lens of their own perspectives and experience. But everyone’s perspective and experiences are individualized. A little compassion will go a long way for moms who judge too quickly. And for women who are doing things because they are afraid of how others would judge them, they need to break out of that fear (I know, easier said than done). It’s only when we are not afraid of judgement will the judgers go away.

  12. imisssteph March 25, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this article! I truly don’t understand why it is another woman’s business to judge another woman’s decision on how she lives and raises her kids. Snap judgement is so toxic. Most of the times, these mommies who judge others think they/their approaches are somehow superior without fully understanding that everyone is different, and that everyone’s needs/life is different than their own. They see things through the lens of their own perspectives and experience. But everyone’s perspective and experiences are individualized. A little compassion will go a long way for moms who judge too quickly. And for women who are doing things because they are afraid of how others would judge them, they need to break out of that fear (I know, easier said than done). It’s only when we are not afraid of judgement will the judgers go away.

  13. Serenity March 26, 2015 at 4:13 am #

    Love it. I keep thinking I should start a blog and then I find insightful, smart people saying what I am thinking! Writing from the heart is one thing. Writing in accusation of another is strange, when they did not thing untoward.
    Women HAVE to realize THAT ANOTHER WOMAN’S CHOICE IS NOT IN JUDGEMENT OF YOUR CHOICE. Different streets for different peeps.

  14. thehachmom March 26, 2015 at 8:52 am #

    Although dads aren’t criticized for going back to work, they are for staying at home, even if they are the logical choice. When mom’s job has the better salary and benefirs, and dad has the driver’s license and is the better cook and possessor of more house skills it makes sense, yet they are criticized as “lazy” (and their masculinity questioned) while their wives are patronized for “permitting it”. The sooner we get rid of stereotypes of how both parents should divide responsibilities in their marraige, the better off we all would be.

  15. glamgranolageek March 26, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    YES! Thank you for posting this response. Honestly I couldn’t even make it through that other lady’s article.

  16. Brooke March 26, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    I needed this tonight! This, and the glass of wine next to me. Thank you!

  17. EdanaEire March 26, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    What an great article. You’ve got a new fan, lady! My mother worked, in fact she earned more than my father. I think she is part of the reason I am a feminist. She is a sweet unassuming lady and my father is a very “manly man” but there was never a hint of superiority attached to Dad, Mam was the brains of the family!
    I see that as an upcoming issue with young girls in Ireland, a the driving force behind a new wave of feminism. Young women are arriving in to the work force, having been raised in equal minded households, only to mix with adults with a more misogynist view, and they are shocked to find themselves pigeon holed and less valued than male counterparts.
    My Mam actually does have some guilt about not being there more, and I tell her it’s ridiculous. Kids are demanding little shits, I know I was, and no matter how much time you give them they want more, that doesn’t mean they need it. She was (and is) a wonderful Mother and I am extremely proud of her career. My sister and I both followed her in to the sciences.

  18. Kay Bee (@TheTDotWildcat) March 26, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    THANK YOU for writing this!! So well put!

  19. mindfulexpat March 26, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

    Amen, sister!

  20. lifelibertylawyer March 26, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on Life, Liberty & the Law.

  21. KYoung March 26, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    Thank you. Just thank you.

  22. dubsteplover101 March 26, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    i fully understand in hate being told what to do by men and even woman 

  23. Matthew March 26, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    Love it! I, too, get cranky when women tear each other down. I need to get started on that letter to my daughter about why I work outside the home. Shouldn’t take long with your model piece.:)

  24. christen March 27, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    Oh how hilarious that I also wrote a scathing response to this very thing, same article and all! However, yours is much more eloquently and fully written so I shall share away!

  25. Sarah March 27, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    It is a heck of a lot easier to be a stay-at-home Mom when your husband makes $167,000 / year. Maybe when you have an unusual name you might not want to brag about your life on the same day the Sunshine List comes out….

  26. Chileshe March 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    You are the best, the best, the best. That article is the type that just makes me burst into tears because I’m so angry I can’t even put my thoughts in a straight line; thank you for being so beautifully articulate. And also for the wizard thing. Too funny.

    (I am a mom who works. Because I have to and because I love it).

  27. Lyla Michaels March 28, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    Reblogged this on Conversations I Wish I Had and commented:
    “There is nothing more disheartening to me than watching women tear each other down, especially within the context of parenting. ” Yep. Ditto.

  28. Katrina Begg March 28, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    I think Lovric responded to the article due to some inferiority complex. I see no putdowns whatsoever in the original article, yet she somehow managed to interpret it as a personal attack. It’s not necessary to give up things you care about in order to show someone that you love them. That’s just being a martyr.

  29. jetude March 29, 2015 at 4:36 am #

    Reblogged this on jetude.

  30. Kat March 30, 2015 at 5:47 am #

    Great article, my mum works and has always worked, and for most of our lives, she was still the parent we could rely on the most. I’m not criticizing my dad here, he’s just never really been that involved with us. Which is another thing, isn’t it? Having a stay-at-home mom does mean you get to spend more time with her, but why aren’t we (as a culture) as concerned that children aren’t encouraged to forge stronger relationships with our dads, and they with us?

    Also, that is FABULOUS cape/coat in your picture. Want.

  31. izzy82 March 30, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    The comment about her being a wizard, made me actually LOL! Nicely done, as always. It’s so true. I am married and not yet even trying for a family but still feeling the pressure and scorn from society…. Like why am I well into my 30s, married and sans children? I’m sure plenty of people thinks that’s selfish. Like gosh, I want to travel and work and hang out with my cats and I don’t know, I’m human and have other interests than parenting so *clearly* I’m selfish… I don’t even want to think about what will happen when I go back to work after having a baby (which I’m 99.9% sure I will). It’s just so not cool that I’m not even a mom yet and already feel so judged. Women are just judged by society and calling a woman selfish is a tactic to keep us “in our place.” Because women are supposed to be selfless and nurturing so all anyone/society has to do to silence us or shut us down, is tell us or just imply we’re selfish. It’s really sad….

  32. themomreview March 30, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    I went back and forth between working and not working with both of my children. I never felt guilty for working and honestly feel that the time my children spent at the daycare we chose REALLY benefited them socially. It’s different for everyone and I hate the judging out there… We’re all mom’s doing one of the toughest most underappreciated jobs there is… Why do women feel the need to make an already tough situation harder? IMHO, the choice to work or stay home is as personal as the choice whether or not to breastfeed! Due to a medical condition, I was unable to breastfeed, and I was shamed publicly several times for bottle feeding while out with my children. I know how terrible that made me feel (especially with my first child, because I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to and was devastated), and I think the same about shaming someone for working or staying home. I feel terrible that women feel they have to explain and justify their choice. People should be ashamed of themselves for this type of behavior… Aren’t we better than that by now?

  33. Rachel March 31, 2015 at 5:31 am #

    If women like you actually supported a woman’s decision regardless of whether or not you agreed with it, then stay-at-home moms wouldn’t have to defend themselves. We are attacked much more often than working moms. And why do you working moms attack us? Because by virtue of our choice we make your working mom guilt ooze out. It creeps up whenever you’re around us. So stop feeling guilty if you’re really making the best choice for your family, and we’ll stop having to defend ourselves.

  34. Thankful March 31, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    Raised four kids. Worked with two of them and they attended public school. Stayed home with two of them and we homeschooled them. There WAS a difference and I’ve viewed the difference in many families. Sometimes working parents cannot be avoided. You can still put your family first when you are off, and I don’t think kids feel neglected. But if you do give up a few things and stay at home, it does impress on the kids that it was more important to you to be with them than to have those things. It also shows them that , in general, sometimes it’s better to put others first. Of course, just the act of staying home does not equal a good mom. You have to work at being a good mom no matter if you work or stay home……and your main responsibility is to be a good mom no matter what your career choices are. Your kids are only in your care for a few years, and it is such a precious time that you will miss if you aren’t careful. You only get one chance. You can pay more attention to your own stuff, whether you work or not, when that season is over. For me, it is an honor that I was entrusted for such a job as this. It is a very important, honorable, and rewarding job that God trusted me with. Both parents are made with certain gifts and abilities, and for people that trust God, you can trust that He made us that way for a reason. His plan is ALWAYS best, and it was made with your best interests at heart. He made us what we are out of love for us. Not to be demeaning. Each parent He gave important jobs, and He made one to be more cut out for one job or the other. I’m so glad that I was given the job of taking care of my family at home and my husband was given the job of providing for our physical needs. My husband has a much tougher job than me and much less enjoyable. Put us together, and we make a solid group. The plan has worked for us and our family.

  35. Christine Allen Naughton March 31, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    Love it ! I have no eloquent words except to say thank you for supporting moms who work and also for respecting those who choose other paths. I know everyone says being an at home mom is the hardest job in the world, but what heck do we think working moms are doing?!. Yea after coming from a low middle class home and working my way thru two advanced degrees working various jobs, I think I have served my children well with a good life, that is balanced with privilege and love. Yes I work, but I spend every summer at home and consider myself lucky that I chose a profession that allows that. We need to stop feeling guilty because as you said, men never think twice about continuation of work to support their families.

  36. philosophermouseofthehedge April 1, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    So hard to believe this is still even an issue. Everyone must find what works for them. Both groups need to grow up and stop throwing darts at each other. Annoyingly like 8th grade.

  37. katherinejlegry April 6, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    The thing I disagree with is that you can expect your child to appreciate your “ultimate life sacrifice”… Your child may grow to see things in a polar opposite way from you and you might find that “unhealthy” to your relationship at some point due to his lack of “appreciation” or gratitude. The reality is we can’t really have expectations of others no matter how honest and healthy we are with others. We can set expectations as goals and make as many follow through laws or rewards as possible, but most of us will not get recognized or appreciated or understood for whom and what we think we are or have been and for the “sacrifices” we perceive we have made in our own time.

    We are lucky if our children feel our love not really the other way around…

  38. bluerabbit April 19, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    No wonder more and more young women are choosing not to have children. I guess people have always tried to mind other people’s business. They used to be called busybodies, not authorities.

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