Posted: Apr 25, 2013 1:20 PM
 
A recent report in The Wall Street Journal highlighted blogging conferences as a "guilt-free" way to leave the kids at home. What kind of message is this sending mothers? Would the same kind of article have been written about fathers? We gauge the response on Twitter and talk to moms about leaving their kids at home.

When I clicked on an infographic in The Wall Street Journal on women going on business trips, the last thing I expected to see was an illustration of a woman lying on the floor eating potato chips next to a mini-fridge full of booze. I stared, incredulous, at an image of a woman with a remote control who was, evidently, enjoying her only opportunity to watch something other than cartoons. Was this seriously an article on business travel?

Let's flip things for a second

It frustrates me that sometimes this is the easiest way to point out sexism, but let's take a moment and pretend this article is about fathers. Anyone heard the phrase "daddy guilt?" Yeah, me neither. Can you imagine an article about dads who go on what amounts to pretend business trips so they can finally get a chance to watch grownup TV and put on silly hats? Can you imagine if an article stated that fathers sometimes seek employment not to make money, but to socialize with other adults? Sounds silly, doesn't it? So why are these issues presented so matter-of-factly when they're about mothers?

Can you imagine if an article stated that fathers sometimes seek employment not to make money, but to socialize with other adults?

Conferences are more than partying and potato chips

I've attended four blogging conferences, including BlogHer and Mom 2.0 Summit. Did women cut loose and party a little? Sure. Did everyone party? Absolutely not. When I attended Mom 2.0 Summit, I spent a great deal of time in my hotel bathroom suffering from crippling panic attacks due to postpartum anxiety. This made it especially raw for me to see that Katherine Stone, a true pioneer for postpartum mental health, was used as an example of women who attend conferences just to get away from their children. I stood proudly with Katherine, who responded to The Wall Street Journal piece today, at two conferences to show solidarity as postpartum depression and anxiety survivors.

How are moms responding to this online?

  • Kelly Whalen blogs at The Centsible Life. "I love what I do, love to travel and love being a mom," says Whalen. "Calling my business trips 'Mommy Biz Trips' is insulting. If I wanted a vacation, I'd go on vacation! Yes, there is fun in my line of work, but I wouldn't pay $100s or $1000s to be 'guilt-free.'"
  • Denise DellaRocco blogs at Eat Play Love. "I have never felt guilty taking a weekend away, for myself," she says. "Oops, is that wrong?"
  • "Attacking the mini-bar?" asks Jennie, who blogs at She Likes Purple. "You've got to be kidding me. It's insulting to imply that working mothers don't respect their families AND their jobs as much as working fathers."
  • "Even 'guilt-free' noted in the title irks me," says Catie. "And implies they should feel guilt. The entire tone of the article is derogatory."

There's nothing wrong with socializing on your own terms

We need to get away from the message that working is the only antidote to guilt.

Blogging conferences can be a valuable experience, but they shouldn't be considered the only way moms can have guilt-free fun. We need to get away from the message that working (or being marketed to) is the only antidote to guilt. "If you sit around and wait for the perfect event — one that you can afford, one that's a size that feels comfortable to you, with events that sound like your speed, in a location that appeals to you — chances are you're going to be waiting a long time," says blogger Temerity Jane, who created her own casual gathering. "What makes it awesome is realizing that you don't need to wait for someone to do this for you. Just invite the internet over — it's fine."

Moms shouldn't need a hall pass to get away from guilt

Mothers are inundated with messages that they're doing something wrong if they're spending time away from their kids. The truth is, everyone needs to practice self-care, regardless of parental status or gender identification. Downtime is an important part of life and a healthy way to cope with stress. Becoming a parent doesn't mean losing your independence, hobbies or right to have fun. Don't let messages of mommy guilt crawl under your skin. You deserve better.

Downtime is an important part of life and a healthy way to cope with stress.

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