Minnesota was dumped on by Mother Nature again this week. When I look out my window I have to keep reminding myself that it’s almost the middle of April because my eyes see a scene from February. Last Wednesday my husband, an accountant, worked from home in the morning. In the meantime, I took my shovel to our driveway and started digging a way through the seven inches of snow that had accumulated since the morning rush hour. There’s a lot of time to think when you’re shoveling and since I recently started watching the AMC series Mad Men my thoughts turned to Betty Draper, the stay-at-home mom married to the show’s main hero, Don.
If you haven’t seen the show, Betty is a more realistic portrayal of what a 1960’s upper-middle-class housewife would look like; picture perfect on the outside but trapped and lonely on the inside. There is no way Mrs. Draper would be caught shoveling her driveway, or washing her baby’s diapers, or performing any of the dirty household tasks that I deal with on a daily basis. A moment of judgment swept over me as I shoveled and I considered myself better than Betty; more evolved than her, and wasn’t that a good thing?
That’s when reality hit me smack dab in the face again: I wasn’t better than Betty, and you know why? I wasn’t better than her because I was falling prey to the kind of judgemental thinking that started the “mommy wars” that I so despise. In the show, Betty lives in a world where men are the rulers and women are put on display as pictures of perfection, while children are expected to live in an adult’s world that revolves around the adults that surround them. I’ve only finished the second season of Mad Men, however, my view of Betty has changed drastically from seeing her as a spineless woman, to one whom strategically uses her womanly attributes to her advantage so her voice can be heard.
The evolution of who we are as women is truly fascinating which is why it’s such a tragedy that we’re so willing to judge each other on the vast array of issues in mothering. We have the working moms pitted against the stay-at-home moms, the breastfeeding moms against the formula feeding moms, the modern medicine moms versus the homeopathic moms and I can’t help but wonder why we can’t just encourage each other for being able to make these decisions in our own homes.
Rather than feeling disgusted by another mom’s choice in how she is going to raise her child, shouldn’t I applaud her for being responsible enough to make those decisions for her family? I think so. I think that if we could put aside our differences it would be an amazing network of support that we could create. I imagine that it might be akin to the sense of support and community that’s found in the cloth diaper community: it would be loving, supportive and encouraging. I want to live in that kind of a world, don’t you? Let’s put down our judgmental battle axes and pick up pom poms instead.
And Betty Draper, I’m sorry I so rudely looked down and saw you through my 21st century lenses. I can only hope that I would be able to hold my own during that time in history as you did. To the rest of us moms here’s what I have to say: “WAY TO GO MAMA!!! ROCK THAT MOTHERING!”