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'Mommy wars' aren't the real issue

I'm not a mother. But my friends who have kids don't spend a lot of time debating the "mommy wars" that we're told are raging.

They're too busy potty training their children or seeking out the best kindergartens or trying to get to a job interview without spit-up on their suits.

Some stay at home. Others work.

Universally, they all want what's best for their kids. But that's where the sweeping generalities about their views end.

The same goes for all women.

We're not going to step into the voting booth in November and all pull the same lever, no matter how many times you praise women and mothers.

We're too diverse for that. There are more than 110 million of us old enough to vote: grandmothers and mothers; single women and single moms; conservatives, liberals and libertarians; those who wear jeggings and those who wouldn't dare.

This ought to go without saying: We're not all the same.

Yet the campaign theory du jour is that unlocking the key to women's hearts will help unlock the door to the White House. That has led both presidential candidates and their wives into the territory of motherhood and child rearing, with all agreeing how tough it is to be a mom.

And so, with a political gaffe and a calculated response, it was declared this month that the mommy wars were back. This time, they were political.

This notion of mommy wars -- that stay-at-home mothers and working moms are somehow at odds -- has traction because it plays on women's fears about whether the decisions we've made in this rapidly changing world are the right ones.

The worrying begins well before most women become moms. Is it the right time to become a parent? Is it better to stay home or keep working? How do you balance work and motherhood? Baby sitter or day care? Beech-Nut or Sprout?

It's the same reason there are book deals for mothers such as Tiger Mom and that the fictional struggles of Peggy, Joan and Betty on AMC's "Mad Men" continue to captivate.

An incredible expansion in the opportunities for women in the last 40 years has not made the choices any easier.

There was a photograph flying around Facebook a few months back that showed Licia Ronzulli, member of the European Parliament, at work taking votes with her baby quietly swaddled against her chest. Her hair is pulled back, she's got pearls around her neck, and she's sporting a suit.

The photograph was taken in 2010, but it has been so captivating to women struggling to do it all that it was still popping up in America this winter.

In short, Ronzulli appears in the picture like a woman who has got it all together just seven weeks after giving birth. Meanwhile, some of us are just trying to make it through a normal week without too much laundry piling up.

Mothers or not, in the office or at home, many women feel frazzled. So, too, I'm sure, do many men.

That's not exactly the stuff of great political discourse.

Most of us are too focused on fitting ever more into our increasingly packed schedules to worry about campaign stunts and one-liners by both parties that pander to women and moms.

That's not to say we're not focused on the issues. It's just that we're not going to fall for manufactured ones.

We're half the population, not pawns in an election.