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Working mom, stay-at-home mom: A debate that belittles motherhood

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As women – particularly white women – some of these questions and the answers are even more polarized. To the statement “mothers should be home with children unless they are the family’s sole breadwinner,” 21 percent of white women “agree strongly,” while 29 percent “disagree strongly.” 

A little conflicted, no?

But the more I read about the mommy wars, the more I wonder whether a lot of our American weirdness about this topic comes as much from our strange relationship with work as it does with our ambiguous, nostalgic-but-perhaps-belittling approach to motherhood.

Which takes me back to that oh-so-helpful postpartum conversation.

See, the thing is, at the time I was working. Just not in an office. And I don’t mean “working” as in “mothering,” although I think it’s interesting that to validate the latter we always have to equate it to the former. 

I was actually working as in doing my day-job – writing. During the first year of my baby’s life I finished and sold a book proposal, I wrote pieces for top national publications, I lectured college classes, and I brought her with me to Kenya on a reporting trip. That I did most of this in my sweatpants was not a new characteristic of my work; neither, really, was the fact that I fit it into my own life schedule.

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Acknowledged, with Baby M I have spent less time on this outside work and more time taking care of her.

Oh, the critics will say knowingly: A part time work-at-home mom.

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