I wasn’t going to post this essay by my German Hostess. It’s not only an unpopular opinion, it goes against my own beliefs as a mother who strives daily to HAVE IT ALL. I have cake! I EAT IT TOO. Then I work off the cake in a wave of guilt and promise to not eat the cake again only to fail the following day.
Are we still talking about cake? I forgot.
This morning I rushed to get the entire family out of the house on time, which would have been a challenge on any day but today, especially, each of us having woken up an hour late with massive sugar hang-overs. I ran around, calling to various people, “Are you getting dressed? Are you going potty? GO POTTY BY GOD JUST GO. Yes, stop talking. Go poop. Ok.”
I made lunches, coffee, breakfast. I got homework together and started the load of laundry from my daughter’s nightly wetting of her bed. (still) I managed two tantrums successfully and served everyone. Just as I was running upstairs to brush my hair, I heard the bus roll by. Fuck. We ran out in the rain hoping that was the early bus. My daughter and I stood, in the stream of water, like complete idiots looking down the wet road for signs of a giant yellow bus. Ten minutes later, we gave up, head back in, and find the three year old is in a massive melt-down “I WANNA GO WIFF YOU TO THE BUSS I WANN GO WIFF YOU TO THE BUS.”
There is no consolation at this point.
An hour later, exactly ONE HOUR LATER, I gather the children in to the car, check myself in the rear view mirror, and speed (responsibly) to the elementary school. We rush in, all three of us, because my daughter is now tardy and it requires my signature admitting that “I failed at getting my child to school on time and also probably putting on makeup.”
We dodge the rain, sign her in, grab my now screaming three year old yelling, “I WANT TO STAY HERE” and run back to the car. I check myself in the mirror again and notice I look a little Miss Havisham, my lipstick on my teeth, my mascara running from the rain, my hair stringy. I sigh loudly, over my son’s screaming, and drive home defeated.
This? This is Monday and work hasn’t even started.
It is because of this, I’m broken down just enough to give in. Hands raised, stringy hair and bad makeup, admitting that I can’t do it all. So here it is: The “Essay on Working Mothers” by Betty. Excuse me while I go make some more coffee, wash my face, dry my hair, and raise two children to be amazing little people while co-parenting an amazing little company as well. I’ll just be sitting here taking bites of my cake, a piece at a time.
I was the host mentioned in the previous post. We had the discussion of: Can you do both – have a career and kids? I have pretty strong and not too popular opinions on the subject. And I worried that I might have been too harsh or spoken too openly to someone I just met but with whom I felt a close connection. I don’t have children, so many will think I am not qualified to speak on this subject. But that’s just it, I do feel I can speak on this subject because the INSANITY of trying to work and have children is part of the reason why I chose not to have children. I had a great job, a comfortable salary, was able to travel and live all over the world. I married a nice guy, and we didn’t have kids (on purpose that is). We have a carefree, stressfree, joyful, active life together in a peaceful, cozy apartment in Munich. I am afraid you working moms will not like what I have to say on the subject…but get over it, get over the guilt, get over the struggle. YOU all made the choice to have children and frankly just as Leslie has said you can’t do both well, so why did you have kids? Or if you wanted kids so badly, why do you want to work so badly? It really is that simple, don’t come to me with all the outrage or all reasons to have children, it really is a cut and dry choice of 4 options for women:
1) don’t have kids, work or do whatever you want
2) have kids stay at home and enjoy that, but put your life on hold for 20 some odd years then do whatever you want
3) have kids, work, do what you want and OUTSOURCE the parenting. Meaning make enough money for live-in full time help and focus on your job and do that really well.
4) have kids, work and have a stay at home husband
Did you all really think there was a 5) work, have kids, be great not only at both – but be a hot sexy wife and travel the world too? Really? And don’t come with all the examples of women that have done it. Yes, they are called exceptions…and if you look closely they probably also have help in some form or have very unconventional work. And I am not talking about single working moms due to divorce or death of spouse. I am talking to double income couples where the wife is juggling the job and doing most of the childcare and feeling alternatively, bad, guilty, great, frazzled, tired, energized, exhausted, hateful, joyful….and so on, just read Dooce.
You all thought “I can do both!” and had a kid, geez sometimes several. So get over it and live with the fact you will be so-so at both work and mothering. Or get over it and realize that you will probably do really well at work and be a crappy mom. Which by the way, being a crappy mom (whatever that means) is actually okay in my book, because honestly the skill sets you have - the stuff you do and know that makes you so good at the work you love and enjoy…..may not be the same skill sets that make a good mother. So stick with your core competencies and outsource the mothering. If that thought is just so horrifying to you - what outsource mothering/parenting? You can’t do that! Well then, get over it and stay at home or have your husband stay at home. And don’t come to me with the we can’t afford it. Yes. You. Can. If you really can’t live on one salary, should you really had had kids? Mull over that a little…before you come to me with the outcries of that statement.
The stories that Leslie told me about what she has to sometimes deal with…were rough but I am afraid fairly typical what you working mothers go through. And I can guarantee you that the successful working MEN with children in Leslie’s field or in any other field are neither going through the guilt, the struggle nor dealing with vomitting children during their work day. They have wives at home or wives who just took off work taking care of all that shit. That means you working moms are bearing a double load and yes, that was not so smart of you. And as much as I want to be empathetic (and really I am a little)...you did have the choice of not having children, and you still have the choice of not working…or outsourcing.
But alas, if you choose to still be caught in the struggle of doing both, here is a last consolation - no matter how good of a mother you were during your kid’s childhood, no matter if you stayed home or worked full time and had a nanny, or did the insane juggling act that is working and being a mom….in every case….your kids will still be sullen ungrateful teenagers….and then grow up to be just fine.