A few days ago on national television in the US, a man made a massive generalization about another man who was the stay at home father to five children. "He's never worked a day in his life" was the phrase that kicked off the war. Which war? The Daddy war.
Working Dads and Stay At Home Dads came out of the woodwork to confabulate the choice of staying at home or returning to work. Many men spoke of Daddy guilt; after their birth of their children and returning to the office, they all agreed there was a huge period of adjustment. A large number of men referred to the latest Hollywood movie "I don't know how he does it" and clips were run and rerun of Brad Pitt frantically dusting a shop bought apple pie with icing sugar, before racing to drop his children at nursery school. All of the men on the panel admitted that they had been forced into the same scenario.
Men talked about juggling child care, doctors appointments and volunteering at school, and of course the added pressure of being a Yummy Daddy inflicted on them from men's magazines. The discussion continued throughout the day; was it easier to go to the office, harder to stay at home? Voices were raised. Feelings were hurt and ratings soared.
And where were the Mummies? They were looking on, shaking their heads and quietly thinking "I'm glad I don't have to worry about any of this shit".
If you do a google search on "Mommy Wars" at this very point in time, you will have a myriad of stories to choose from, all of which were posted over the past 48 hours. This is of course, due to the fact that Hilary Rosen, who calls herself a political strategist, made a statement that Ann Romney, wife of Republican candidate Mitt Romney had "never worked a day in her life". Whether you think that Hilary Rosen was misunderstood in her comments or you agree with them, we arrive at the same destination. Women arguing with women over choice. We return to the she said/she said discussion that continues to hold us back from an even playing field.
I am a Work From Home Mummy. I have also been a Stay at Home Mummy and a Work At The Office Mummy. The thing that annoys me the most about all of the "Mummy" titles, is there really is no equivalent title for my husband. He retuned to work when our first child was two weeks old, and as far as I know there was no backlash from other fathers, he has never felt judged or uncomfortable about his choice. No-one refers to him as a "working father." He is simply a father.
I have female friends that work from home and others that work in an office, I am at war with none of them. In fact it's quite the opposite. The women in my life are very much my support team. You will often see us negotiating pick ups and drop offs, parties and sporting events, we work in a syndicate. When I returned to full-time work at the office, I relied very much on the help from my Stay at Home Mother friends who were there when I was running late, stuck in a meeting or caught in a last minute crises.
There was no war.
Sure, we've all had our moment of being on the judging panel. The mother who spends 14 hours a day at the office. The mother who never comes on the field trip. The mother that doesn't "work" but has perfectly manicured fingers and toes AND she has a cleaner!
These things will always be discussed because they are opinion, and we will always have an opinion. It doesn't mean it has to be uncivilized. I have very different opinions to many of my friends, but they remain to be my friends. It's what makes the dinner party more interesting and the conversation lively.
I am not at war with any of my Mummy friends, it's quite the opposite. I couldn't survive without them.