By Lisa Nuss
I've watched the new phenomenon of Mommy Wars with intrigue the last few years. I always figured that women who are happy with their choices (whether to marry, their career, their life) wouldn't need to be taking shots at women who make different choices. And I've marveled at women who assume that child-rearing is exclusively a female responsibility; they completely absolve men, including their chosen husbands, and then go after other women a la Cruella de Ville.
I wondered how long it would be until I officially weighed into the debate. I'm barely into my 2nd trimester and now I receive the first lob from a stay-at-home Mom. I haven't even had the baby yet! Just when I thought I'd recovered from the 1st trimester nausea, now I have a mother trying to make me dizzy.
I joined a couple of parenting internet groups and a woman posted a question about nausea and what drugs to take for it. I responded that I'd felt like I'd been at sea for the last 5 weeks, but knowing that drugs prescribed in the past for pregnancy symptoms have caused defects in babies, I tried to be supportive by suggesting indirectly that if I could handle it, maybe she could too. I added that I've been able to continue working more than full-time. Again, I thought if she had the kind of encouragement my mother has always provided for me, it might help her buck up a little. (My Mom worked through the last four of her seven pregnancies and she tells me, "You just get through it.")
So the woman replies back, telling me how "impressed" she is with "women like you" who can keep working. She added condescendingly that she realizes some women have no choice but to work (as if working when you're 3 months' pregnant is some kind of sacrifice). Then she said she "could never" work full-time while pregnant.
A day later I couldn't get her response out of my mind. First the suggestion that women might work only because they "have to," and any woman with a choice would want to stay home. And her condescension suggests that somehow she is privileged and I am not. I don't consider staying home a privilege and don't care for the assumptions she flung my way. Why did she need to trot all of that out?