So last weekend a blog post was written by a Catholic blogger with a pretty big following posted something that has created waves.
The topic that has people up in arms? Being a Catholic mom and working or not working.
It’s her blog, I know I’m likely not her target audience, and she’s entitled to write out her thoughts buuuuut getting, excuse the term, butthurt because people disagree with you on something you put out publicly and then playing the victim because people are big meanies is not ok. It’s not uncharitable to voice disagreement. It simply isn’t.
I commented several times myself on the a fore mentioned blog post, as well as on JoAnna’s response post to this. Very few of my comments were actually approved, because unlike myself or JoAnna, it appears Auntie Leila vets everything. (Well, actualluy — I delete comments that link to porn or are spam – yes the porn thing has happened. It’s not cool!) Instead of allowing dialog, the vast majority of the approved comments belittled Catholic working moms, their husbands, their situations, and worst yet accused saints of harming their child who became a DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH.
Aside from commenting on the LMLD postseveral times I also tweeted Leila:
Ok, so the Snow White gif was probably a little much – but as of posting yesterday I had gotten *maybe* 12 hours total of sleep over the last three nights, and Monday night was *maybe* two very broken hours, so the snark meter was high and my normal operating standards of letting things said online hurt. Last night I got about 3.5! Improvement, but I’m still tired… pass some caffeine. And someone tell my kids to have a smooth night tonight!
The following are screenshots from the combox of Leila’s post. Aside from adding some underlining, I haven’t edited the content (kind of hard to do with a screenshot, which is why I chose to post those instead of quoting) – feel free to read the entire context on her post.
First, I made this comment on her blog about Dr. Gilbreth, since she cited her husband in the post:
What she didn’t publish was my response to her response in which I pointed said
Her children were born in: 1905, 1906, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1920 and 1922
She earned her PhDs in 1911 and 1915 – note she also gave birth those two years. She also
“sought to provide women with shorter, simpler, and easier ways of doing housework to enable them to seek paid employment outside the home.”…?
And if you read only the wikipedia article on Dr. Gilbreth it notes that she taught two week courses WITH her husband. Um, her husband died when their youngest was 4 years old, so no Auntie, Dr. Gibreth was indeed a working mother when her children were small.
Plus, if you note the quote about her, Dr. Gilbreth WANTED to help moms work outside the home. But that doesn’t fit into the narrative.
Which is a shame because Dr. Gilbreth is #workingmomgoals and just in general #momminggoals
In response to my comment “Sarah” said:
If you noted, in the comment about Dr. Gilbreth I said “First off:” — indicating I had another thought to share. And yes, the snark in play with my first comment, I could have substituted “hysterical” for “odd” and the tone would have been gentler. Foot meet mouth.
The second comment was not approved, but it contained how hurt I was by her post — and I didn’t submit right away because I needed to *edit* some of what I wrote, and I wanted to not be snarky with that one. I also mentioned everything that I had done that day from when I got up to that point (before noon on two hours of sleep), and pointed out that pretty much all of my waking (and some of my non-waking) time was dedicated to my family. I very very rarely go out to just socialize. The first time I had in a long time was last week when I attended a local Blessed is She brunch, but even then, the baby came with me!
The only other comment of mine that she allowed to pop onto the blog was this one, which is a response to a long comment by someone named “Katherine”:
I shared my horror about with my small prayer group of Catholic moms (there’s just 12 of us) I’m in, we’re diverse and some of us work, some stay home, and one actually runs an in-home daycare. The mom who has the home daycare was very hurt that she would be called a “lesser person”. THAT is actually extremely uncharitable. And doubly so because “Katherine” comes back and doubles down on that this is what she believes. I pray “Katherine” realized the hurt saying something like that causes.
Moving onto the saints…
Clearly Leila missed that the phrase “turning out ok” was a bit of sarcasm — I mean, my goal big picture goal as a Catholic wife and mother is to get my husband to heaven and that my children become saints. St. Zelie accomplished both. And with wet nurses and nannies and hired help, so “lesser persons”. St. Zelie is Catholic motherhood goals. Also, I feel a kinship with St. Zelie since I have a rather strong willed toddler myself…
Leila’s comment defames both of the Martins, saying “Can God bring good out of our mistakes? Yes! Does that give us permission to rationalize those mistakes, or make them on purpose? No” — dear Auntie, given the context of this reply you DO realize that this can be taken, and was taken by many, that your comments mean that being a working mom is indeed a “mistake”.
The comment by “Lisa G” defames St. Therese – who is a DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH. I’m pretty sure that The Little Flower’s nervous break down wasn’t because her mother worked, but rather because St. Zelie died while she was small…
My youngest is a week away from being 5 months old. I’m pretty sure my priorities taking care of my family are the right kind to have. I don’t pump breast milk three times a work day because it’s fun. I pump because my baby IS one of my biggest priorities. But even if Henry was formula fed for whatever reason, putting in hours at my job would still point to him being one of my priorities so we could afford to buy formula. A fed baby is a happy baby.
Actually I DO think about JP. I think about him a lot, and not just in the married sense, but I think about IF I’m giving him enough support – where he is in the dissertation – if he has a good batch of students this semester – IF he’s getting enough rest – if I’m spending enough time with him (which I actually don’t. We’re both tired and a goal for 2018 is to amend this) – and silly little things like IF we have coffee beans in the house so he can function while he works and is an amazing father to our sons.
Additionally, I’m as confused as JoAnna and her husband, Colin, about what “battles” John Paul is fighting for me? Especially since he knows that I’m feisty, but I’m also perfectly capable of entering the battle myself.
“Too often, it’s one’s own children who seem to be the problem.”
Um, it’s NOT my children who lose out here. They are NOT a problem. Babies and children are never the burden. Are some activities associated with rearing children burdensome? Sure. Because I devote much of my life to my kids there are things I don’t do that include, but are not limited to:
- going to the gym/taking a yoga or barre class
- getting my hair cut on any sort of regular basis
- a weekend away, alone or with JP
- a night away, either alone or with JP (the ONLY nights I’ve had away from Bernhard was when I have birth to Henry and when he and JP went to my in-laws overnight to see the chickens and ducks. Henry has never had a night away from me.)
- seeing movies
- blogging at all regularly
- hearing a full gospel or homily at Sunday Mass(and that’s ok! it’s where I’m at in life, and explosive diapers or needing to go potty happens)
- getting a solid 8-hours of sleep, note I’m on night 4 of less than my minimal amount of needed sleep…
Which brings me to another snipped from Auntie Leila:
This underlined bit ^^ THIS IS what offends me the most out of everything she’s written. This is not only judgey, BUT suggests that my husband isn’t man enough or godly enough or Catholic enough because I work and am the benefit carrier for our family. I wish I could say that I’ve only encountered this view point online, but we’ve had things along these lines said to us by people in real life. And it hurts every. single. time.
Not to mention the implication is that husbands are ONLY good for two things – creating babies and a paycheck.
How incredibly crappy is that view towards your spouse? This is an extremely reductionist view of the role of a husband. John Paul is MORE than just my partner in making babies (as fun as that is, and we happen to make pretty adorable ones at that), and even if I have the opportunity to transition to a SAHM at some point he will be more than his paycheck. My husband is truly my best friend, no, wait, he’s more then that, JP is my soulmate. He challenges me intellectually. He makes me a better person. And I know damn well that he’s doing all he can to help me get into heaven.
Colin’s on JoAnna’s post was rather pointed too:
Thank you Colin!! (Maybe someday we’ll be fortunate that our families can cross paths and play an epic D&D game.)
What I can’t take is that people thinking simply disagreeing is being uncharitable – her followers smeared working mothers, so imagine that a few of us would want to defend ourselves, our families and our husbands! Or imagine that we may feel hurt, which brings me to another point.
As you can imagine, this has exploded all over social media and the blogosphere since the OP was published last Saturday. I’m part of the the Catholic Working Mothers group over on Facebook, and there have of course been lots of conversations about this post there, as well as in several other Catholic communities I’m part of. The majority of women in these groups have interpreted Auntie Leila’s words in a similar fashion to myself, and this member of CWM’s comment (screenshot shared with her permission. Last name and profile picture redacted for her privacy) broke my heart:
Also, this is not the first time Auntie Leila’s blog has posted something that has made my community of CWMs feel like absolute crap – these screencaps are from a post she wrote in 2009 which was discussed in the group last summer:
Auntie Leila, while it *may* not have been your intention, your posts HAVE hurt lots of people. The line that makes me the saddest is “…semester away from a doctorate in money-making, I get it.” because Auntie, I really don’t think *you get it*. I’m in the situation of a spouse who has worked his tail off for years with the goal of a doctorate in a very competitive program. Or at least you don’t *get* it in today’s world.
I’m part of the older batch of millennials, the term I actually prefer is The Oregon Trail Generation, and one of the things that has set us apart is a large chunk of student debt. For me it seemed pretty cruel to expect that my husband would shoulder the debt I acquired to get my education at a private Catholic university. An education which I highly value. It’s my debt, which btw has been since paid off largely in part due to 8-months of field work I did back in 2012 and also due to my dad being extremely generous and hard headed. So as someone who came into marriage with a decent chunk of student load debt, and still had a decent sum of that when our oldest was born, points 4 and 5 of your post feel very tone deaf.
Momming is the hardest thing I’ve done. Working and momming is damn hard. I know from my cousins, sister, and dear dear friends that being “just” a SAHM is hard, and in some respects is harder. Going to the office means I have the luxury of getting to pee by myself at least twice a day during the week, and society doesn’t recognize that being a SAHM is in fact a job. A very hard and demanding job with little or no breaks — to so my sister, cousin and friend I say go on that mom’s night to take yourself out to coffee or a solo movie, you really HAVE earned it. In the end it is NOT a contest who has it harder – the working mom, the SAHM, or even the WAHM. We all have the same end goal of doing our best to raise tiny humans, have a happy home and be sane at the end of the day.
Posting things like the two of your posts that I’ve linked here are missiles in the guerrilla warfare that is the mommywars. It’s not cool. It’s not charitable. In the end we’re all doing our best and trying for the same end goal. Give those of us who have to or choose to balance momming and working some slack and credit where credit is due.
I’m sure someone, perhaps even Leila or her family, will say that I cherry-picked comments. Go ahead, accuse me of that, argue that I’m being uncharitable. I can take it. In fact feel free to leave a comment so we can actually engage in a discussion about this (I won’t not allow your comments to post – of something your wrote doesn’t pop up let me know via email or twitter or FB and we’ll troubleshoot!). It’s not uncharitable to disagree.
Better yet, Leila let’s have a public Facebook live conversation so people can tune in. Email me and we’ll set this up. I’d love to have a civil conversation about this to clear the air. I get that you’re probably feeling just as attacked as I am, and even ganged up on just as I have felt by commentators on your blog and across social media.
St. Zelie Martin,
St. Gianna Molla,
Pope St. John Paul II,
Pray for us!