Mommy Wars: The Peace Accords

Lesley Jane Seymour shares her front-row view of the mommy wars

by Lesley Jane Seymour
lesley jane seymour image
Photograph: Melanie Acevedo

It's been 17 years since I moved to the suburbs and gave birth to my second child two days later. But my memories are still vivid about what I experienced at the town's Newcomer Club. After a lovely lunch we newbies were invited to walk the perimeter of the auditorium and visit the desks manned by various groups we might want to join. One was a club for “window treatments.” Wow, really? It had never occurred to this city slicker that sitting around discussing which drapes I might buy would help me get adjusted to my new town. But hey, what did I know: I'd spent the past four years in a city apartment with stark-naked windows that invited voyeurs—one of whom actually used to wave at me as I paced around my dining room nursing JJ.

Two other tables represented clubs that looked more interesting: Though I can't remember the names exactly, one made it clear that it catered to stay-at-home mothers while the other was meant for mothers who worked. Since I was home on maternity leave and feeling rather sleep deprived and snarky, I asked the woman at one of the tables if I could join both groups, since at the moment I qualified for both. "Oh, no," she said, looking quite serious, "you need to choose."  

That was my introduction to the mommy wars. Back in 1995, the tensions between mothers who worked and those who stayed home wasn't pretty. But as my kids got older and life became less school-centric, my attention focused elsewhere and I started thinking the mommy wars had ended with a truce. So I was startled to find that the younger staffers at More felt it was still alive and well; it had just gone underground. 

Really? All these years later? Since we have enough stress and strife in our lives, we sat around a table and asked ourselves what we could do. Well, we could investigate the reasons why this war continues. We called our friends at Citi's Women & Co. (see “Moms, Work and Parenting: Making Peace with the War" by Linda Descano) and asked them if they wanted to join us in a study that would get to the bottom of what was pitting woman against woman. Some, we suspected, were financial. They said yes, and the article you see in More’s April 2013 issue, "Why The Mommy Wars Rage On" was born (it’s now on newsstands). While our photos are meant to be humorous (please note that in each one the other side appears to be winning!), the piece is deadly serious about the findings: that resentments do still exist between women who work outside the home and those who primarily stay home with their kids. We also excavate two never-before-disclosed causes—one having to do with money, the other the conflicted messages men in our society send. We sincerely hope that this piece will start a conversation that might lead to our own Yalta. Let us know what you think.

Next: Why the Mommy Wars Rage On

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First Published Mon, 2013-03-25 16:40

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