There is a recent article in Macleans called ‘The Richer Sex‘ about the one-third of working females who now earn more than their husbands. These female breadwinners, though, often have trouble coming to terms with this. One line in particular caught my attention: “[Working wives] battle guilt for not meeting the ever-intensifying maternal ideal promoted by mommy bloggers who make felt crafts and granola bars from scratch.” I had to read the line several times because it surprised me so much. I can only speak for myself, but as one those ‘mommy bloggers,’ I felt rather shocked at the idea that my blog could be interpreted as a ‘maternal ideal,’ simply because I stay at home.
Ironically, the very reason I turned to blogging was because I craved some kind of escape from motherhood. My blog is an attempt to emulate the accomplishments of a female breadwinner, to feel somewhat more in touch with an adult world, and to enable me to achieve tangible goals on a daily basis. As much as I love being at home with my kids and feel very fortunate to be raising them myself, I can’t help but look at my working female friends with a certain degree of envy. To see their careers develop and flourish while I’m stuck here, washing out poopy diapers in the toilet and planning play dates around naps, does make me feel quite discouraged at times, as if my life is a bit stagnant.
Maybe there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between what I’m saying and what I actually do. I write about being a mom, raising my two little boys, staying at home, cooking food from scratch, and going to playgroup, but I write about it because that’s what I know. I’d be setting myself up for certain disaster if I tried to write about anything else. I do not write about these things with the intention of setting them up on a pedestal and promoting them as a maternal ideal which all women should strive to reach, nor do I write to make working moms feel bad about what they are unable to accomplish at home. Aside from writing because I love it, I also write because I want to be more like those female breadwinners and to feel that I’m contributing to the world in a broader way than just raising two healthy, well-adjusted, socially adept children (not to take anything away from the immensity of that contribution).
The line in the article, however, also made me feel defensive. The references to ‘felt crafts’ and ‘granola bars from scratch’ sounded almost condescending, as if they’re stellar achievements that only a woman with nothing else to do would take the time to make. I’d like to challenge that assumption. While I haven’t made a felt craft since elementary school (though maybe homemade Valentines fit the same category, in which case I’m guilty), I do make all our food from scratch, granola included, and it’s not out of a sense of maternal self-righteousness. It’s just because I don’t buy processed or prepared foods due to my concerns about food, health, and the environment. Even if I worked outside the home, I’d be cooking from scratch and spending much of my free time doing so, simply because it reflects an overall lifestyle choice. If that makes me look like a perfect mommy, so be it, but I’m not going to trade in my family’s health just to fit the mold.
I guess it’s true what they say, about the grass always being greener on the other side. Working moms want to be more like stay-at-home moms. Stay-at-home moms want to be more like working moms. The most important thing is to follow our womanly hearts and do what fulfills us most. For me, that’s what I’m doing already.