It is often said behind every successful man there is a strong woman.
I believe, behind every successful woman there are …other women.
We often admit that it takes a village to raise a child, but truthfully it takes a village to support the women raising the children in that village. The thought that mothers are battling each other – working mom vs stay at home mom- seems ridiculous since we are in many ways accountable for each others success.
Working mothers: Without the stay home moms and the contributions they provide – the best of our society crumbles. I owe the class moms of 1D, 4M and 6D, as much of a thank you and cash bonus as any strategic partner of my business. When I remember the snack I signed up for I feel like I should be given a ticker-tape parade. These women, the stay at home moms, breeze in with Pinterest-worthy cupcakes, hand-made classroom decorations, run 4-H clubs, sew dance costumes, and all the things the world demands of mothers today. They are the ones whose work is helping to make my child’s day memorable. And magical. They accomplish everything I fail at. Not because I am too “good” to do it or I am doing more “important” things but because there are not enough hours in the day and I am barely hanging on here as it is. (Seriously, this morning I found my phone in the refrigerator). They organize the field trips, they volunteer at our libraries, contribute to our community centers and parks and countless non-profit organizations that better our children’s lives. They just make life better. And astonishingly, they are so selfless– they do ALL of this – ALL of it without even being paid to do so. Frankly, I feel stay at home moms should be on the payroll of every business because without the stay at home moms the society every business operates in, falters. We all becomes less stable, less kind, less magical. The mistake we make is thinking that the endless field days, the class play scenery, the classroom volunteers – are trivial. They may be appear to be small tasks, but they are not “little”. They are the quiet fibers of our children’s lives that create magic.
“Stay at home” mothers: Working moms that have jobs outside of the home also provide immense value to the stay at home moms and their children. If stay at home moms are the magic, the working moms are the dream-makers. Working moms help girls that aspire to be doctors, lawyers, marketing executives (insert shameless self promotion here), business owners, etc. to have female role models that are achieving their dreams. Working moms are showing your daughter that no matter what she wants to be – she can. The working moms help keep the job markets competitive for your girls, they pave the way for their professional dreams. They also show your sons, that women (girls) are their peers, deserving of respect for their own goals and ambitions. They show your sons that women can contribute to their lives in many ways, in many roles, all for the betterment of a richer fuller life. Someday, the income your daughter-in-law creates may be what allows your son to take his dream trip to Australia, or pursue owning his own business as her salary carries their expenses.
The truth of the matter is when we criticize each other in front of our children – they are the people we hurt the most. By criticizing the choice of other women we place in our children’s minds they can make a “wrong” choice in living their lives. We are defining the “lines” of “good and bad” ways to be a mother. When mothers fight with each other we take away our children’s magic and their dreams. No “good mother” – no matter how you spend your day – should find this acceptable.
The worst part of all of this…ALL of it, is that changing this is so simple. It does not take dramatic measures. It starts with just one act of kindness…and then another and another….
Small little gestures each day, whether it is a genuine compliment, a thank you note, covering for a mom as she runs to daycare, bringing a report from the printer to their desk or simply thanking a car line volunteer, etc. are a small price to pay to keep the magic and dreams in our children’s’ lives. With social media it is even easier to extend praise, recognition and kindness to each other. Small acts of kindness are a first step in establishing mutual respect.
If we all just made this commitment, this 2 minute daily commitment, to do one act of kindness for a mother on the other side of the mommy battlefield, I promise you within 3 months we would all see magic and dreams everywhere we looked – and so will our children.
Jennifer Calise is a founding partner of fishbat Media, a NYC based internet marketing company, and working mother to 5 children, 5 dogs, 2 birds, 3 bunnies, and one overly aggressive lobster named Larry. In her wealth of spare time, she writes and speaks to encourage woman to leverage the unique wisdom gained in their role as mothers to become more successful in their careers, fueling the idea that we can be more because we are mothers, not despite it.