I’m sick of this post. Not the specific post, “The Stay At Home Mom Conspiracy Theory,” but the gist of the post: career woman goes home and is shocked to find that motherhood is more intense, boring, messy, fractured—difficult, than she thought. That the details and difficulties of motherhood surprise career women is a commonplace complaint that hasn’t quite settled on a cliche to describe it.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be this hard?” she, and countless others, ask. We tried, or at least some of us did. But during their office days, women don’t like to hear about stay-at-home motherhood. First, career women rarely listen to anything that contradicts what they think they know. Second, most stay-at-home moms, when faced with the vacant stare mask of disapproval, stop telling the truth. Much like the author did. (Oh, the confidence gap is not so much a gap as a canyon with many caves and crevices.)
Usually I have more sympathy for women surprised by realities—elder women do withhold a considerable amount of information from younger women—but failure to acknowledge and express some regret about past complicity in the silencing of stay-at-home moms buries my sympathy in annoyance.
I am not one of the SAHMs who stop telling the truth. (I blogged as An American Housewife precisely because I refused to perpetrate the notion of a “mere” or any other “no really, I’m smart”’ adjective modifying “housewife.”) So I offer some truth for after the shock: motherhood doesn’t have to follow the covered-in-spit-up-with-no-time-to-shower format that typically sees women run screaming back to the office in avoidance or plunging into motherhood in full submersion. It can be sane. But to get to sane, women have to stand against conventional wisdom and peer pressure. To use the Mommy Wars analogy, sane is walking though the crossfire and ignoring the bullets as they wiz by. (Don’t worry, they’re blanks.) In my experience, fewer moms want to hear about how to do that than want to listen to facts about motherhood.
There isn’t so much a conspiracy as a crisis of confidence in which women hide behind assumptions or seek safety in numbers. Nothing gets solved. And the same posts get written again, and again, as if it is all a surprise.
image via shutterstock / Gladskikh Tatiana