Tracy Odell at the White House

CafeMom's own Tracy Odell and her son got an opportunity this morning to chat with First Lady Michelle Obama, as part of "Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day." What followed was a frank discussion between moms, kids and Mrs. Obama about topics that included the Mommy Wars.

Tracy asked Mrs. Obama if she had experienced criticism in her experience as a working mom. Here's what she had to say:

All the things we fought for as women, we fought for a choice, being able to make the choice that was right for us.
 
And we still have work to do, but we’ve come a long  way. Women do have real choices about how they want their lives to go. And no one should give that up to anyone else, because it’s your choice and it changes. I mean, I have been a working mom. I have been a not working mom. But it’s been totally based on what I need in my life at any given point in time. And there will always be somebody who will criticize everything you do in your own lives.
She went on to say this:
What gives me a sense of calm is that I know that I have to figure out what works for me at any given time. And what I try to do is respect every woman’s decision about what they do for themselves at any given point in time. There just are no absolutes, and that’s what we fought for. 
Mrs. Obama did a good job of addressing mommy guilt, which all of us fall victim to on a regular basis, as well as the criticism that all moms face from others, whether they stay at home, work from home, or work outside the home.

But what's largely been left out of the wider "Mommy Wars" discussion is the number of women who would stay home with their children if they could, but must work to pay the bills- as well as the women who want to work but can't because they can't find a job that pays enough to cover the cost of childcare and other expenses.

Unable to raise their children as they choose, they are the true victims of the stay-at-home/work-outside-the-home debate. I know plenty of women in this category and I feel for them most of all.

What about you? What do you think of Michelle Obama's comments on the Mommy Wars? And how can we work to make it possible for more women to choose a path that's right for them and for their families?

Photo credit: First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a women’s online outlets roundtable on “Let’s Move!” and motherhood in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, April 26, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)