A newspaper columnist just said that any mom who goes out with a toddler in heels and jewelry is just faking being a hands-on mom.

britney are you kidding me

And I’m like…

It’s not even that the tone of the article is decidedly catty, or that the writer calls all of us “dearies.”

Neither am I being defensive. For the record, I don’t have nail-polished fingernails, I do know what my son’s last poo looked like, and I don’t go out with the little guy in heels and jewelry. (Unless 2-inch wedges are considered heels. Wait…are they? And is there, like, a height cut-off for heels? How about half-inch? See, I don’t even know these things. And, hey, what if a person wears heels because flats make her high-arch feet ache?)

And it’s definitely not that I think this one person’s opinion matters so much that I have to try to do everything in my power to change her mind. Based on the tone of her replies to comments, and on the tone of her follow-up article, her beliefs appear to be firmly entrenched. I don’t think there’s anything I can say that will ever convince her she’s wrong.

But you know what? She IS wrong.

That’s why I’m writing this, because there might be a mom somewhere who suddenly finds herself questioning her worth, or a husband who now thinks less of his wife, or a woman who thinks, “That’s it. I’m never going to have children” — all because of that article.

(Also, gotta admit, I’m writing this because I’m pissed off. I mean, wouldn’t you, if someone keeps calling you “dearie”? Samuka uy. Maurice Arcache ang peg, te?)

And just to be clear: this is NOT an attack on the article writer herself. Catty tone and snide remarks notwithstanding, it’s entirely possible that she’s the nicest, smartest, most respectful, most beautiful person on the planet, whose kids adore her, and whose husband thinks himself the luckiest man. (After all, nothing is impossible with God. Char. Hahahahaha! De betaw.)

But that doesn’t take away the fact that she’s wrong.

She’s Wrong — Here’s Why

What is a hands-on mom?

If you’re going to define what something is and what something is not, you’ve got to have a factual, logical basis for your conclusions, right? You can’t just, oh, for example, look at your Facebook News Feed, find those moms whose photos you find annoying, and build an article based on their characteristics, right? Or you can’t just, say, think of one or two people you want to put down, or, I don’t know, someone whose “real life” you want to expose to the world, and simply list down the differences between them and you. Right? (Just for example.)

“Who is right, who is wrong? Your opinion is as good as mine,” the writer insists.

Um, NO.

“Hands-on” is not one of those eye-of-the-beholder adjectives. The term has a pretty specific definition; in Merriam-Webster, it is being “actively and personally involved in something.” Other dictionaries have similar definitions.

The problem is, in her article, the writer is basically saying that there is no way the following moms — the ones she labeled as “fake hands-on moms” — are actively and personally involved in raising their kids:

  • Moms who have long, manicured fingernails
  • Moms who can’t describe their children’s last poo
  • Moms who wear heels or jewelry when going out with toddlers

(Yes, seriously.)

Moreover, she writes:

[T]here she is again, in her heels, perhaps sitting this time, with the little one in her lap at another outing. And then another pair of heels and another set of jewelry in yet another outing. Definitely a fake. There is a yaya, a Grandma or a hands-on dad outside of the scope of the camera’s lens.”

In short, she also seems to be saying that moms who receive childcare help from nannies or family members are not actively and personally involved in raising their kids.

If you’re a mother, and you work, and during your working hours you leave your child in the care of someone else, you’re a fake — that’s what she’s saying. You’re not “the real deal.” The fact that there are some parts of the day when you are not personally washing your child’s poop off his behind basically precludes you from being actively and personally involved in raising him — that’s what she’s saying.

Dearies,” she says. “I have nothing against moms who will not or cannot be hands-on with their toddlers. Each of us has our own reasons for raising our kids the way we do. But please, do not pretend that you are.”


Disproving a Null Hypothesis

They say the advantage of using a null hypothesis in research is that it is very easy to disprove. If you say “mermaids exist,” it’s very difficult to say you’re wrong even if no one sees a mermaid, because it’s very possible that there are mermaids and no one has just seen them yet. On the other hand, if you use a null hypothesis and say “mermaids don’t exist,” if just one person sees just one [verifiable] mermaid, you can confidently reject your null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis, which is that mermaids do exist.

(Aaand at this point I had to break off because my son pooped. Swear to God. Nothing like a soiled diaper to take you down a peg or two after you talk about statistics. Uhh…anyone want to know what it looked like? Hahahahahahaha!)

Anyway, back to null hypotheses.

No mom who has long manicured fingernails is a hands-on mom? I have a cousin who has had to raise two children without her husband’s help, and they are beautiful, smart, well-mannered kids. She has a job, she performs household tasks, she works herself to the bone each day, and, yes, she occasionally takes the time to have her nails done. Does that one luxury mean she is not actively and personally involved in raising her children?

The only time I had long manicured fingernails was during my wedding, but I can say, without a doubt, my cousin is much, much more of a hands-on mom than I am.

A mom who can’t describe her child’s last poo can’t possibly be a hands-on mom? I have a friend who is raising two children, one of whom has special needs. When she goes to work, her kids are cared for by a nanny, but when she is home, she personally attends to their needs, their learning, their playtime. She has to put in more effort than most other moms because of her son’s condition. If one of her sons pooped at 2 PM today, and I ask her now what it looked like, and she can’t answer because she was at work, does that automatically cancel out all the things she has been doing for her children?

I know what my son’s last poo looked like, but my friend’s involvement in her children’s life can put mine to shame.

Jewelry and heels and toddlers cannot mix? I know plenty of people who have gone to events with their kids looking fabulous. I can’t chase a toddler in heels — actually, I have just one pair of 3-inch heels and I can’t spend an entire evening in it to save my life, with or without a toddler in tow — but that doesn’t mean no one can. And, yes, admittedly, many of these moms have someone they can share toddler-chasing duties with during the event: the dad, the grandma, or the nanny. If she does receive help, does that mean she is not actively and personally involved in looking after her child?

And what’s the deal with calling the dad a “hands-on dad”? If a mom has help, as apparently evidenced by her jewelry and her heels, she is automatically a “fake hands-on mom,” but the dad who is not at that point in time looking after his child can still be a “hands-on dad”?



And speaking of dads, since the burden of working and earning money still falls mostly on them, does that mean most of them will never be hands-on dads? Are they fakes because they have no idea what their child’s last poop looked like? Or do we have separate standards for dads?

My mother was a hands-on mom in every sense of the word, while my father had to leave home most days to work, but I never felt for one moment that my dad was not a hands-on dad. And right now I have friends, dads, who are not able to be in the house all day because they have to work, but they are still very much actively and personally involved in raising their children. What about them?

Of course, Ms. Plonky Talk (the article writer) might say, “well, that’s not how I define ‘hands-on’ — I don’t believe it means ‘active and personal involvement.'” So unsa diay? Maghimo na lang ta’g laing dictionary kung dili mo-fit atong definition sa unsa’y standard? Are meanings of words subject, therefore, to the vagaries of lifestyle columnists? And can we really just label people in whatever way we want, make them feel bad about themselves, and then hide behind the skirts of “well, that’s just my opinion”?

adjective \ˈhan(d)z-ˈȯn, -ˈän\
characterized by active personal involvement

What’s sad about this whole thing is that there are actually people who would judge your involvement in your child’s life by the length of your heels or the finish of your fingernails.

It’s sad that women who are doing everything they can for their kids have to defend themselves and fight for the right to be called “hands-on moms.”

It’s sad that someone — in an effort, ostensibly, to make exhausted borderline-nervous-wreck moms feel good about themselves — has to do so in a way that makes other moms feel bad about themselves…and then signs off with the line “cheers to motherhood.”

Bitaw, wala ra ni syay connection sa article, dugay na lang ko ganahan mogamit ani nga pic hahaha!

Bitaw, wala ra ni syay connection sa article, dugay na lang ko ganahan mogamit ani nga pic hahaha!

I don’t expect her to change her mind. She seems to thrive on being divisive — after all, instead of addressing comments in a sensible manner, she resorted to envisioning a battle between the “Long Clawed Team” and the “Short Clawed Team” — and I guess some people are just like that and we really can’t expect too much from them. But I hope those people who read the article and, as a result, started to look down on the so-called “long clawed” moms will come to see that motherhood is so much more than fingernails or heels or who is doing what.

I’m a short-nailed short-heeled mom who just washed her son’s poop, and I can tell you that I don’t need others to feel bad so I can feel good about myself. The truth is I will never get to the point where I feel 100% good about myself as a mother. I have too many shortcomings, too many failures. There are so many things I can’t do for my son. And that’s hard to accept. But I like to think what matters is that I try. That’s what I hope people will focus on: that I’m trying. That we’re trying, most of us. Focus, not on our fingernails, not on our heels, but on our sincere efforts to be good parents and to raise our kids to become good people. For most of us, that’s all we can do.

© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

28 thoughts on “A newspaper columnist just said that any mom who goes out with a toddler in heels and jewelry is just faking being a hands-on mom.

  1. I’m not a mom but I do know that what you wear or how many hours spent with your kids do not define being a hands-on mom. That’s slagging off countless mothers who work in offices, so yes heels and fancy nails are a norm, but start their days early and them late to tend to their kids needs.

    • Right? The writer claims to have been a hands-on mom but she seems to be less enlightened about motherhood than you are. For working moms, especially, it’s hard enough to juggle work and being a parent, and then having to hear that despite all your efforts, you’re not “hands-on”? SMH

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  2. Wait, does this mean I need to buy new shoes? Because I only have high heels and 1 pair of flats! D:
    Oh noez! What a disaster! All these good decent shoes and I can never wear them again because I became a mother!

    SAID NO WOMAN EVER. (At least not a normal woman)

    Unles you can no longer walk on heels I doubt there is a woman out there stupid enough to get rid of all her fancy shoes.

    • True! And I think it’s also really important for moms to do something that makes them feel beautiful at least one in a while, and killer shoes (especially when paired with a killer outfit) are a great way to boost your mood and confidence.

  3. I’m a hands-on mom and I know a lot of hands-on moms here in Texas. Some have long nails with manicure, and some hardly. It’s ridiculous someone even came up with that theory. And what right does the author have to be so judgmental? Oh my gosh like I’d go in the bathroom after my son had poop and check the color! Should all moms be that control freak? Unless the child has medical conditions and must check the color of their poop, these things shouldn’t be the basis for being a good hands-on mom. Thanks for sharing!

    On a lighter note, your trip is coming up soon! I can’t wait to read what you blog about Bali!

  4. She’s spending waaaay too much time thinking about how other people parent and coming up with weird, condescending conclusions. The whole article was a load of shit–I’ll just say it=)

    • Haha! Actually I thought for a while that it might be satire or, I don’t know, just click-bait, but she seems to be sticking to her guns. Either it’s a Joaquin Phoenix kind of long-running stunt or there’s really something a little wrong with her. 😀

      • It’s odd that she used “dearies” more than once too, the tone is strange overall so I almost thought if I kept reading I’d realize it was satirical too. If she’s Joaquin Phoenix-ing us she’s a professional. Otherwise…!
        But this is one of those things where I read it and think a lot is revealed about the writer and not at all about who she’s judging and she doesn’t look so good!

      • That’s true, it says more about her then anyone else really. I mostly ignored it when I first read it — why bring any more attention to it, right? — but then I noticed some guy friends were sharing it on Facebook, and these are guy friends who are supportive of their wives and they probably thought it was helpful to their wives, during those times when they just feel like breaking down, but I thought it was a dangerous idea to propagate. There’s a way to uplift people without putting others down.

      • Good for you. It is dangerous…how about we accept all Moms are different but that doesn’t mean one Mom is doing it “right” and the others are fakers. I really think that these statements about motherhood that boil into arguments are just another way to fuel misogyny and disconnect women instead of uniting them and I hate that!

  5. Very nicely written. Well, agitation aside! A rant with panache. I learned a long time ago that we shouldn’t judge others based on our limited knowledge of things. I’m not saying I always do this. But someone who says what she says and means it…why did you even finish reading the article?
    Do you have foreign words in your article, or is my computer reverting to Bali language?

    • Thank you! Yes, I have a couple of Cebuano words in there. 🙂

      And that’s a very good question about why I even finished reading the article. I first found it when a couple of my guy friends shared the link on Facebook, guy friends who have been very supportive of their wives, and I first read it thinking it would either be a funny article or one that had an uplifting message in the end, based on the people who were sharing it. The mean tone threw me off a bit but the writer professed to be writing it for those moms who were at their wits’ end, so I still finished it, expecting to find a hidden gem somewhere, and then it ended, and I was like “wait, what?” I think that was what drew a lot of people in, because it was disguised as encouragement.

      • Cebuano words: whew, thank god. I opened my WP blog in Bali, and for the first month everything was in Indonesian language, and I couldn’t fix it until I left. And still today, my default tag is an Indonesian word!

      • Yeaah, well at first, I guess “someone” or something thought I was Indonesian. Then Google Translate took over, or something. There was a toggle switch in the site, and I just clicked it, and boom, everything was fine. You shouldn’t have a problem since your site is already set up, I would think. But who knows what might happen in cyber-stuff.

  6. Okaaay, I just read her article…. and it is reeking with jealousy. Unsay problema? Who cares if you are hands-on/full-time/part-time as long as you love and care for your children and make sure their needs are met then heels and polished nails (with or without) shouldn’t really matter.

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