Re-Thinking Work-Life Choices in Parenthood: We are Digital Moms

Based some amazing comments in response to my post two weeks ago about work-life choices and the struggles facing working moms and at-home moms, I’ve decided to dedicate WM to this topic all week. First, a few housekeeping items:

1. Mommy Guilt is stupid and I hereby ban it. I ban you from this blog if you don’t agree to it.

2. The “mommy wars” are dead.

Can we declare this idea dead now, people?

More on this all week but again, I ban you from my blog if you don’t agree to it. And we’ll all totally talk about you (not even behind your back) if you don’t agree to it.

3. There are so many reasons I am certain the “mommy wars” are dead but one is because I think we are all, instead, Digital Moms. It isn’t so much about working moms vs. at-home moms as it is how technology  is changing our relationship with  motherhood and with how and where we work.  Also, technology is dramatically impacting how we parent (both with giving our kids access to it – and making sure we aren’t on our stupid phones too much when we are meant to be spending time with our children.) There is no road map for the impact of technology on modern parenting – there are no long-term studies on how kids learn from using the iPad instead of pen and paper. There is no decade long research on quality time with kids when we are constantly interrupted by our phones. And it is technology that is transforming the space where old-fashioned stay-at-home moms are becoming obsolete. Technology has invaded our home life in such a way that for so many, an office is obsolete, and we work from home. In our yoga pants. And pick up our kids from school. We are digital. Our lives our digital. So even having this debate about the mommy wars is antiquated because who are these people who work exclusively 9-5 in an office (instead of in the office, in the car, during soccer practice, later at night when the kids are asleep) and who are these moms who stay home and “do nothing”? Technology bleeds between the lines of these once clearly-defined spaces rendering such labels as “working mom” and “stay-at-home”  mom meaningless, in my opinion.

Now that we’ve gotten our housekeeping items straightened out – here’s what we’ll talk about this week and I’d love to hear more from you because it was your comments and emails to me that have inspired me to keep digging into this topic of work-life choices and the obsolete “mommy wars.”

1. It’s not the mommy wars, it’s looking in the mirror and unfairly beating ourselves up.  So many guilt-ridden comments from moms questioning their choices between work and home life prompted me to dig a little deeper. These self-criticisms strike so deep and undercut the confidence of so many moms and unnecessarily, I think. I think we are far too hard on ourselves. So, I did some research and located a Pew research study. The results show that working moms rate themselves far lower as parents (only 28% ranked themselves 9 or 10 as parents on a scale of 10) than do part-time moms or at-home moms (over 40% rated themselves 9 or 10). These results are really upsetting. I want to talk about how we need to spend less time on this quest for balance and perfection and more time owning our choices and being proud of our decisions – it’s called life and imperfection – why are we so afraid to accept that?

2. The mommy track and sacrifices between work and family. The August decision by Judge Loretta Preska to dismiss the Bloomberg case involving discrimination against pregnant and working moms is the most current blow to the quest for work-life flexibility.  The female judge’s harsh words indicating that working moms should not be treated differently than anyone else certainly set a ripple affect through the blogosphere and chills down many working mom’s spines. Here’s what she said if you didn’t read it last month: “The law does not mandate work-life balance,” nor does it “require companies to ignore and stop valuing ultimate dedication, however unhealthy that may be for family life.”  Harsh but is it brutally honest? What I’d like to explore is not the woe-is-me victim angle of the struggles and demands of parenthood. But instead – are we realistic in what we want – do we honestly ask ourselves if we want to climb the ladder or are we willing to compromise our success at work for more time at home – or vice versa – sacrifice time with our kids to instead move-up professionally? Does anyone really believe they can “have it all” with work and family?  Do we realistically approach the reality that having children impacts a career or alternately, having a powerful career impacts our time spent raising our kids? Do we, as new moms, set ourselves up for disappointment?

3. Why women choose to quit their jobs, how no one really is a simple “at-home mom” anymore and the fear of “Now what?” when the youngest starts elementary school. I found some research that proves my suspicion that the June Cleaver at-home mom of yester-year really is extinct. Today’s digital at-home mom is one of 10.1 million women-owned businesses. She’s freelancing, she’s volunteering on boards and at schools.  The at-home mom is no-more. Turns out she’s really busy and probably earning money during nap time. I’d call that work.

4. And if we have time before the week is up….the myth of “free” time, the increasing role of dads in keeping the house and family schedule going (apparently, to the detriment of  their precious testosterone levels) and do we have realistic expectations of our limited free time when we have kids or are we complainers? Husbands included in this one.

This ought to keep us pretty busy all week.  As much as I love to hog all the time and attention, I really hope you’ll chime in.

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