I've been following the comments to LL's interesting post reacting to recent articles about Marissa Mayer and her planned short maternity leave. I have to say that I find most of the comments unhelpful on the discourse of the "mommy wars."
I think what everyone is trying to say is that there is no one-size-fits-all shoe for motherhood, maternity leave, and working mom balance. Unfortunately, people still like to throw their own judgments around or act like everything was easy for them. And the people who act like it's so easy really do a disservice for those of us that struggle.
First of all, I'm on maternity leave and I wear yoga pants... a lot. My kids don't care what I wear so I throw on what I WANT to wear. Then I can laugh at myself for wearing yoga pants all the time. Why does it matter what I wear anyway? It's just going to be covered in spit-up. I'm not trying to impress anyone. I'm not trying to say "I recently had a baby and I look so awesome and put together." If I have to make a 5 minute run to the store for bread, I'm not going to spend 10 minutes to look all purdy for the cashiers. I don't care what they think. I'm going to wear what is comfy and right now, while I still have a pound or two to lose, my normal jeans are not comfy.
Also, I don't take a shower everyday. So what? My mornings are hectic. Those of you who did take a shower everyday of your maternity leave, good for you! Sure you can sit there and say how easy it is to run into the bathroom for a quick 5 minute shower (seriously though, who takes a 5 minute shower? Not ME!). But it's not that easy. It's never that easy. If I really wanted a shower, sure, I'd find a way to take one. But unless I have an appointment somewhere, my mornings are usually busy sweet-talking and nagging my son into eating his breakfast- every bite is like pulling teeth. Or getting my baby to take a nap. He's an excellent night time sleeper but a crappy napper and I have to literally rock him to sleep and then continue to hold him to keep him asleep. Showers are not the first thing on my mind or my morning agenda.
Some moms keep their older children in day care or school while they are on maternity leave. If I remember correctly, LL might have done that? That would sure make my mornings and afternoons 50% easier. But not all of us can do that.
Finally, I envy those of you who say that you could have gone back to work 3 weeks after having your baby. That's really awesome. I also envy people who didn't have to struggle with going to back to work. It's great that your whole world didn't flip upside down after having a baby, that your priorities never underwent a huge upheaval. It's awesome that you never questioned whether you would stay on your ambitious career path or throw it all into the wind to be a stay at home mom. I envy you because I struggle with it every day.
I really don't want to leave this guy...It's true that you don't know how you will feel until after your baby is born. You won't know if you will have your same career ambition. You won't know if you will suddenly melt into a puddle and decide that you never want to spend a day apart. Unfortunately, a lot of women do not even HAVE a choice.
When I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to have kids. But I also knew I wanted to have a challenging career. I was worried how the two would go together but I brushed that worry aside and never gave it much thought. I went to law school and during that time, I had a baby. Since the day my son was born, I've struggled with the following questons: "What do I WANT to do?" and "What is right for MY family." I still don't know what I want. I still don't know if I will ever know what is best for my family. So I'm winging it for now.
The things I didn't think about where: "What do people expect me to do?" "Will people look down at me if I make X choice or Y choice?" "Will I be letting women across the country down if I throw in the towel and decide I want to be home with my children?" "Will I be sending a poor message by leaving my children with others while I work?" I didn't think about these questions and I don't think any woman should have to. Each choice should be bourne on the needs of the mommy and her family. Who the hell cares about the rest of the garbage.
I think a lot of my struggle has to do with the fact that I had a stay at home mom. Growing up, most of my friends had working moms. I felt bad that they had to go to after-school care while I got to go home to my mom, who always greeted me at the door, asked me about my day, and had a snack waiting. I'm not saying that that is the best way to be raised. I'm just saying that's how I was raised and I wish I could give that to my kids. So yes, I struggle. Everyday.
I think most people do struggle. Even long after they make their decision (no matter what that decision is, they still struggle. Everyday you do your best. All you can do is hug your little ones as much as possible and go to sleep knowing that you are trying to do your very best. And if what you are doing stops workng, there is always tomorrow to change things.