If women have learned anything over the half-century since Betty Friedan's "The Feminist Mystique" shook the world in 1963, surely it is this: There is no single, correct way to be a mother.
* Quit your job to stay home if you wish, and if you can. What could be more honorable or worthwhile?
* Keep working -- out of necessity or choice -- and show your children that women can be anything in the world, including the family's crucial breadwinner.
* Work part time. Or quit for a while and return to work later. Or work from home.
Most mothers understand this very well. We may question our own choices -- and wish we could be in two places at once -- but we know one thing:
All mothers are working mothers.
It's politicians who sometimes seem not to get that. The current context is a presidential campaign that features a sizable gender gap, with women favoring President Obama over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney by as much as 18 percentage points.
Within that, we've just seen a new round of the "Mommy Wars," with a Democratic strategist criticizing the Republican candidate's wife, Ann Romney, as someone who "hasn't worked a day in her life," despite raising five sons. The usual round of outrage and damage control followed.
But in Spotlight today, we set all that aside to share the stories of some local mothers -- stay-at-home, working and those in between.
With admiration for their varied paths, with gratitude for their enduring love, our message to all moms is simple and heartfelt.
Happy Mother's Day!
-- Margaret Sullivan, Editor