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MAMA LIKES

The Opt Between Revolution
posted by Amy

I'm not a full-time SAHM, but I've never worked a full-time job that keeps me away from home 40+ hours a week, either. I don't work during school vacations, most of January, and all summer. I have the luxury of being able to pick my kids up at school most days and to work in their classrooms when needed. Even when I'm teaching a full load, my time on campus tends to hover around 20 hours a week, with lots of time spent working at home, too. For most of my parenting life, I've worked part-time, sometimes only a few hours a week and sometimes more.

Most of the mothers I know have similar situations. I know a few who don't work for pay at all, but fewer than it seems when I'm walking to the park on a weekday morning and half the neighborhood also seems to be there with their kids. A passerby might look at us handing out goldfish crackers and assume we're all home full-time, but when I look around, the reality is a little more complicated.

I teach at the local college, for instance. Another mom does in-home daycare while she cares for her own young kids. That mom over there substitute teaches a few days a month, and that mom has a thriving sales operation going on. This one works three days a week at the office and two days a week at home. Others combine freelance work with part-time jobs they need primarily so they can have health insurance. (And that's not even counting the mothers and fathers we all rely on, the ones who put so many hours into volunteer work that supports our schools and communities.) My point is, I know very few women who fit neatly into the stay-at-home or work-outside-the-home categories, but that reality never seems to be reflected in "mommy wars" articles.

Enter my new heroine, Washington Post guest blogger Johanna Wald, who writes,"I declare my friends and myself to be the leaders of the "opt between" revolution....Every day, we slog through the murky, complex waters between the bi-polar camps of Hirshman and Flanagan, where each of us forges our own truce to the "Mommy Wars."