She and I fight a lot and it’s mostly over misunderstandings, hurt feelings or assumptions gone un-clarified. We are different, sure, but also the same:
She works at a brick-and-mortar job full-time and brings in the primary salary for her household.
I work part-time from home as a writer, online teacher and author while caring for my son.
She has familial day care five days a week, free of charge.
I have zero child care.
Her husband shares the load of household and parental responsibilities equally, if not carrying the majority of the load.
My husband works insane hours and we treasure the very brief times we even see each other each day.
She must cram all errands and chores into weekends which could otherwise be spent going to museums and parks with her family.
I enjoy museums and parks with my son as a means to survive 24 hours with a toddler, cramming all errands and chores into the brief intervals of time when my child does not need my 100-percent attention; the same intervals during which I must do everything else.
Every mother has a different set of challenges, but none of us is better off or better than the other. We should respect each other’s schedules and demands and not assume that things are easier on the other side merely because it looks so different than our own.
Remember Elizabeth Wurtzel? Quick recap: she wrote a book about depression and addiction called Prozac Nation (maybe you saw the movie), got famous, then posed naked on the cover of her next book, Bitch, flipping us all off. She’s now a lawyer and one would assume has a slightly more settled life than the memoir-making chaos that led to her early publishing success.
But she wants you to remember that middle finger. She’s flipping it again, and this time it’s directed at women. Namely, those who choose domestic responsibilities over career ones. In a new essay in The Nation, Wurtzel blames who she calls “1% moms” for the failure of feminism and the reason the war on women exists.
The bulk of her argument is directed at the Desperate Housewife set—the moms with expense accounts (provided by their husbands), nannies and acrylic fingernails that eschew the dirty work of motherhood. Some of them have Ivy League degrees. Others just lucked out marrying a rich guy.
These women exist and, yes, I agree that their “work” as stay-at-home mothers is far different than nearly every other mom in the country. But the problem with Wurtzel’s argument is that her finger pointing drifts. In one paragraph she calls out the 1% women, and in the next, she makes a grand assumption that women who choose to stay home to raise their children and take care of the household are betraying their potential, and have the unique luxury to do so only because they’re wealthy.
“To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met — none of whom do anything around the house — live in New York City and Los Angeles, far from Peoria. Only in these major metropolises are there the kinds of jobs in finance and entertainment that allow for a family to live luxe on a single income.”