The “mommy wars” just became the “daddy wars”—or a spirited battle, at least, led, perhaps unwittingly, by a Kentucky father of 5-month-old twins. Matt Walsh, a blogger and WLAP radio personality and defender of stay-at-home moms everywhere, has blogged on the topic this week, inspired by what he calls the “subversively condescending” questions he frequently gets from working moms about his wife’s child-rearing status. And the piece has been causing a major dust-up on social media, much to his surprise.
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“I thought (hoped) the post would resonate with my readers, but I never expected the response to be anything quite like this,” Walsh tells Yahoo Shine through a Facebook message exchange. “Naive as I am, I also didn't anticipate the vitriolic negative reactions. This has turned out to be the most divisive thing I've ever written, and I never intended for that to be the case. I wrote it because I wanted to defend the beauty of motherhood, not start a war.”
The piece, “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” has been viewed more than 2 million times in just two days. In it, he writes, “This conversation shouldn’t be necessary. I shouldn’t need to explain why it’s insane for anyone — particularly other women — to have such contempt and hostility for ‘stay at home’ mothers. Are we really so shallow? Are we really so confused?” He goes on to call the life of raising kids “beautiful and complicated and challenging and terrifying and painful and joyous and essential,” and notes that no other role in life can compare.
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“It’s true—being a mom isn’t a ‘job.’ A job is something you do for part of the day and then stop doing,” he writes. “Whatever your job is—you are expendable. You are a number. You are a calculation. You are a servant. You can be replaced, and you will be replaced eventually. Am I being harsh? No, I’m being someone who has a job. I’m being real. If your mother quit her role as mother, entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly.”
He continues, “Yes, she is just a mother. Which is sort of like looking at the sky and saying, “hey, it’s just the sun.”
The piece particularly meant a lot to the writer’s wife, Alissa, who tells Yahoo Shine that she was “really proud of him, and encouraged” after reading his post. “He is the type of person who doesn’t let people attack his family or his beliefs. But he didn’t realize how big a controversy it is, and how divided women are on the issue,” she says. “He posted it before I could warn him! But I know he would have written it anyway.”
Walsh’s piece has been shared nearly 2,000 times on Facebook, where it’s generated thousands of likes and comments that have been sharply divided. A great many have applauded Walsh for his viewpoint, sharing their own stories of happy child rearing or regretful working hours, and thanking him for being a supportive male voice in the din.
“Most stay at home moms have dealt with (on top of all else) their own husbands not appreciating what they do,” writes one Facebook fan. “This is what everyone who has had that experience hoped her man would do.”
But many others have taken issue with the piece—for offending working moms, mainly, but also for wading into a discussion that they believe should be left to women. Critics include writer Leslie Morgan Steiner, editor of the 2007 essay collection "Mommy Wars," who says that Walsh should stay out of this one.
"This is all we moms need—dads criticizing us too!" she tells Yahoo Shine in an email. "My conclusion from 'Mommy Wars' is that we are all better off when we champion moms in whatever decision they make. Really, it's none of Matt Walsh's business what other moms think. I am not even sure it is his business what his own wife thinks—that's HER business. We all, as individuals and as a society, need to butt out of moms' personal decisions about how to raise their kids."
“I guess the extreme reaction on both sides reveals how hurt and damaged a lot of us are by the scorn and ridicule from the outside world,” Walsh tells Shine. “I think most of us parents are just trying to love our kids and provide for them as best we can, and we should all be respected for it.”
So what’s at the root of these often-vitriolic mommy discussions? Parenting coach and therapist Tammy Gold tells Yahoo Shine that it’s a complex set of emotions.
“Sometimes mothers immediately assume that the grass is always greener—and then they feel it’s kind of unfair, and they project their insecurity onto the other person,” says Gold, co-founder of the newly launched MommyCoach, who notes that mothers, by nature, are insecure. “Judgment comes, a lot of times, from secret frustration, like maybe the working mom feels guilty that she’s not staying home. And when one feels bad, sadly, sometimes the only way to feel good is to bring another person down.”
But Walsh’s blog, she adds, is a bright and affirming note in the discussion. “I think this blog will really open up the conversation,” she says. “And maybe especially for dads, who might say, ‘Look how far out he went to defend his wife. Let me remind myself that she’s not home eating bonbons all day. She’s working hard.’”
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