The Mommy Wars, of course. No matter which "side" we see ourselves on, we see the other side taking up arms against us. We see it whether or not it's reality. Of course, "we," at least when it comes to me, isn't even clear.
Two days a week, I make the trek to the office. The rest of the days of the week -- all days of the week -- I work from home. There's an ebb and flow to how much time I have to put in, although it often feels far more flowing than effing. I'm in a bit of a lull right now, as an annual project has mostly wound done and won't pick up again for a couple of months and as another long-term project sails mostly smoothly along and as the short-term project, with its heavy upfront and back-end load for me, is smack dab in the middle.
I can breathe. I can go camping for the weekend with the Girl Scouts. I can spend a Saturday driving four JROTC cadets back and forth to Sacramento. I can take time to spend a full day at Youngest's school for Colonial Crafts Day.
I can even clean the house without bemoaning how dirty it has become because I've had so little time to spend cleaning. All right, it isn't spotless, but it's because I'm lazy and writing a blog post rather than mopping the damn kitchen floor.
Even when I'm crunched at work, my 5 a.m. awakening each day lends itself to, if not getting ahead, at least keeping up with the workload and still allowing me time to play Frisbee with Youngest and his friends after school or chat with the other women hanging out while their kids play a bit. And drive Daughter to dance classes. And help Eldest make cookies for his French 2 project. And so on.
When I worked at The Chronicle, I still had it sweet after the first 18 months. I worked four days a week in the office, and that extra weekday off allowed me the luxury of volunteering in the classroom. In the nearly seven years since I've left, I've been able to pull hard duty for most of the time doing all of the extras non-working mothers get to do when it comes to school and Girl Scouts and soccer and so on. It's just been in the last two years, really, that I've felt more the working mother than the non-working mother.
[Save your complaints about terminology. Yes, all mothers are working mothers. Blah. Blah. Blah. Only they're not. So. Hah!]
Last week's Colonial Crafts Day at the elementary school was a humdinger, requiring lots of people to pitch in not only that day, but setting up the day before. And that's when the latest skirmish broke out because only three of us showed up that day to help set up. So an email went out to all of the fifth grade parents, a chiding email, really, telling people to step the fuck up.
See the skirmish, right?
I don't know how many working mothers took offense. I know one emailed to complain. I saw the email. I'm opting not to include it here because, well, it wasn't addressed to me, which leaves me not feeling as if it's mine to share in its entirety. Suffice it to say, it was snotty and filled with buzz phrases about pining for the "leisure" of the non-working mothers and feeling "reprimanded" for not being able to skip work.
Having sent my own email to all of the parents in Youngest's classroom citing my own plight of driving six hours roundtrip to attend a meeting in Fresno that Thursday morning and still managing to make it to keep my commitment, I know snotty when I see it.
Here's the thing, though. The author of that email? Hasn't done anything at the school for a very long time. I know. And that stupid-ass Colonial Crafts Day that the fifth graders all adored? It needed a lot of items that could have been done at home -- making the food they were tasting (hominy and hardtack) or sending in supplies (like quilts and blankets and such). Many of the events that happen at school have needs that can be done in the privacy of your own home.
Like at 5 fuckin' a.m., when this working mother/non-working mother, gets up to make sure she can do her part.
I wish I didn't have to work at all. I am envious of the many women I know who don't.
I wish I could work full-time. I am envious of the many women I know who do.
Within me is my own walking Mommy War.