This is worth a read over your morning coffee for the juicy stories of how women can be perfectly awful to each other: now in moms’ group too! It’s a slice of “The Real Housewives” except for people with middle and upper incomes (as opposed to stratospheric incomes).
And that’s where this piece made me very uncomfortable. To be fair, this article absolutely acknowledges that it’s a look into wealthy suburban life, complete with intact, sometimes two-income families. I don’t need the author to apologize for the privilege she has enjoyed; she has no doubt earned it, and even if her wealth fell into her lap, it’s none of our business to judge. Her experience is real, and she has a point. Shouldn’t all parents band together supportively, and if they don’t, why not?
The author speaks of the “5 million” of us (female professionals turned SAHPs) who choose to stay at home. That’s a great thing, to have that choice. But to have it, you have to have money. I eventually decided to read the piece as a satire, rather than a journalistic examination of how women can manipulate and hurt each other, even in the homogenous, monied suburbs. After all, we already know money fixes nothing. But considering the number of problems so many families and children face every day, I just couldn’t feel too sorry for moms whose biggest problem seems to be not getting invited to lunch.
It has always bothered me is that there is little diversity of thought, experience, or voice in mainstream media in parenting issues. It’s just two sides (“working” versus SAHP) against the other. And implied in that war is that we all have a choice in where we live and how we parent. But that’s not true, of course. That choice is not available to many millions of families.
To have a full conversation on any topic, we need to hear the voices of those families and parents that don’t have a choice. Single parents. Teenage parents. Poverty-stricken parents. Even voices of successful entrepreneurs who are too strapped for time to weigh in. These are voices that complete the spectrum of parenting experience and ideas. Voices that can educate and inform us. Voices and lives that exist near us, in our communities. Voices of the children of families with few or no alternatives.
When we stop a moment to think about the lack of those voices in parenting literature, we should all cringe a little at this article.
I would have loved it if this article had instead compared whether, say, inner-city, single moms form similar cliques, as do the well-to-do mothers in this article. Do poverty-stricken families have a similar story? Or does poverty strengthen the ties between struggling parents? Now that would be worth reading.