If you are really, truly, mind-numbingly weary of the Mommy Wars, I suggest you refresh your browser right now.
If, on the other hand, you are one of those mommies like me, who claims to be skunnered on the topic and yet can't resist gobbling up the latest instalment like a bag of Miss Vickie's, you might care about the following.
That is, a few further points I can't stop myself from making about Ms. Bennetts' book. You know the one. Since we last talked about it, several intelligent reviews have come out, including one in last Sunday's New York Times and before that the New Yorker.
Both note two of Bennetts' recurring arguments for why women should not give up the prestige and money of decent jobs to stay home with children. They are:
1) Too many mothers who don't like their jobs are using their kids as an excuse to quit, she says.
2) The high-maintenance years of sleep deprivation, childcare crises and spitup on the power suit pass quickly. Hang in there, Bennetts urges. Hardcore mothering is "a temp job."
I believe both these arguments are true. I just think they cut both ways. In other words, you can use them to make a case for moms who want to stay home, rather than just to pillory them.
Since when is quitting work you hate a bad thing? Are we just supposed to stay with an unfulfilling or stressful job because the title or perks are good? Often those of us lucky enough to hit the career pause button - whether or not children are part of the equation - end up a lot better for it. The result can be a job switch that might never have happened, an entrepreneurial venture from home or an eventual return to the workforce with a renewed sense of purpose.
Bennetts is right about the early years. They represent one short chapter in a lifetime (though you might not believe this in the middle of a February night when your toddler has an earache and the baby is colicky). That's why some parents choose to be the primary caregiver during that period, even if the longterm tradeoff is a mortgage that will never be paid off and no progress on the RRSP balance.
In The Feminine Mistake, Bennetts urges women to respect what we've accomplished, and to honour our hard-earned education and professional qualifications by staying at work and ensuring our financial independence. But you know what? We also shouldn't forget how incredibly resourceful and resilient mothers can be in all spheres of their lives.
When it comes to work and kids, we are mixing and matching, changing lanes, launching businesses, starting new careers and picking up the old ones where we left off. Let's honour the creative and complex choices that mothers are making every day to strike the balance that works for them and their families, instead of judging each other so harshly.