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.
Testing. :D It’s working.
By Mrs. Flinger on 2010 11 01
Mrs. Flinger, you know I loves you like crazy, but the tone of your guest poster was really bitchy and mean, and quite frankly, completely unhelpful. “Outsourcing”? WTF? How nice to be able to cast down judgment from way up there on that pedestal.
By cindy w on 2010 11 01
And this, friends, is why we have choice. And why some people (Betty) are better off choosing not to have kids. Love to you, Mrs-Flinger-who-has-it-all-and-does-it-damn-well.
By syd on 2010 11 01
Granted, my teenagers are sullen (and the two following close behind will undoubtedly feel the same) however, they are anything BUT ungrateful. Yes, they get that from me too (seeing as my mom worked 2 jobs while I was growing up!!!)
By Liz@thisfullhouse on 2010 11 01
With an attitude that smug and self-righteous, it is a good thing this woman is not procreating. These are opinions better left unshared; however “true” they may be, they are NOT HELPFUL.
Les, you’re doing fine. More than “so-so at both.” And the morning you just had? That shit happens to Stay-at-Home-Moms too. It’s not your cosmic punishment for choosing to have kids + job. It’s LIFE.
By mother 'eifer on 2010 11 01
Okay, Munich….sigh. That is the type of attitude I would expect there. Sorry, but it is a pretty conservative “family values” kind of place. We just spent 4 months in Berlin and things there are vastly different. Most moms go back to work when their kids are between 12 months and 18 months old. A 3 year old who isn’t in day care is an oddity, as is a woman who doesn’t work.
I think each family should do what is right for them. If it is too stressful to have a family and have a career, then they should make a change. But if they are making it work for everyone, then that is great too. In our family, we chose to take turns staying home with our kids when they were little and then both of them entered preschool when they were 3 years old. I stayed home with them when they were infants (easier to nurse that way) and my husband did the toddler years (SO THANKFUL FOR THAT), except for this past summer where I was a stay at home mom with the kids in Berlin (and it was DAMN lonely because there were no other moms around with kids the same age as my kids who weren’t working).
I don’t need anyone else to lay out my choices for me. I know what they are. We will pick what works for our family and everyone else should pick what works for theirs.
By Annie @ PhD in Parenting on 2010 11 01
Hm, even though I’m not a mother, I plan to be one in a few years and this post just comes off pretty condescending. For example, it’s not as if (intelligent) women failed to grasp the “4 choices” listed, but, speaking as a current childless business owner with the freedom the guest poster has, each of those 4 choices aren’t as cut-and-dried.
I think the worst wording was in Option 3. Hiring full-time or live-in help or even part-time help isn’t outsourcing parenting. That tells me there’s skewed beliefs of what parenting really is. Growing up, my immigrant parents weren’t exactly rich and both worked, hired a live-in Filipino nanny to deal with us during the day. Believe me, the nanny doesn’t parent. Also, it’s not as unaffordable as people make it out to be especially if they live with you (less pay b/c of the free rent and food).
I think the only thing I agreed about this article is that I’m against people that whine and don’t do anything about their situation, personal or professional.
By Lea on 2010 11 01
I agree with Betty’s point. I know that as working mothers we put the unreasonable expectation on ourselves that we need to do both jobs as well as if we were only doing one. It’s ridiculous. My mom was a working mom who worked because she had to which meant we kids had to cope with it.
20 years later, all three of her kids are well-adjusted members of society. It’s okay to lower your standards.
Moreover, I think that not every woman is cut out to be a June Cleaver stay-at-home mom. Being with the kids all day can be a boring life for many of us, even if your are keeping up on your housework and doing crafts with the toddlers. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you find your value as a person by contributing to the workforce. You’re not doing your children a disservice. Give yourselves permission to not be supermom.
By mamikaze on 2010 11 01
So insightful and very pro-woman. She really nails the options we ladies have and I firmly believe her theories should be taught to all girls immediately following their first period. A flyer summarizing this lovely essay could be handed out in all school nurses offices, woman’s clinics, and the mall:
CONGRATS ON YOUR FIRST PERIOD! NOW THAT YOU’RE ON YOUR WAY TO WOMANHOOD, IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOUR CHOICES BECAUSE ONCE YOU CHOOSE, YOU MUST SUCK IT UP, LIVE IT AND NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT THAT CHOICE (or the minor inconveniences that may come of it)
Your choices are:
1. Don’t have kids, do whatever you want, be fabulous!
2. Have kids, and stay at home in a 20-year purgatory longing for the day you can go outside again
3. Have kids, make a ton of money so you can visit your children as if you were the ‘fun aunt’ and continue to do whatever you want and be fabulous!
4. Have kids, work, and make your husband do all the nasty parenting (which obviously means you can basically do #3 only you won’t be going out and being fabulous with your husband, because he’ll be at home, barefoot, and wearing an apron – so it’s probably best to marry a gay guy if you choose this option)
5. You IDIOT, THERE IS NO FIFTH OPTION!. Some might be silly enough to assume there is a magical balance of ‘work, parent, be fabulous’, but that’s an “exception” and who wants to be exceptional anyway?
Isn’t it nice that due to strong women throughout history we now not only have the right to vote but we also have all of the choices above?! Hooray for women!
By Sara on 2010 11 01
I can certainly see things from both sides, I am a stay at home mom who quit my job when I had my son and subsequently lost half our annual income yes HALF…... I had made the necessary adjustments ahead of time (bought a smaller house, paid off all our debt etc).... but it still hurt to lose that income, I am not going to lie. I also still struggle with feeling like I am “earning my keep” without receiving a paycheck… its been 5 1/2 years and I still feel a bit out of sorts about that. All that said, I flat out knew i would be a bad mother trying to juggle it all…. on my best days I am not the most organized person, so it would have been asking for trouble to try and have it all. Its also takes a hit to your pride when you see the other two income families seemingly do so much better (they take actual vacations, have bigger/nicer/newer homes, cars and furniture) but again it falls back to I KNOW I WOULD BE BAD AT IT. I can say “i wish we had this or that” but does it get me out of the house and back into the corporate world…. “no” not until my little one is in school full time. I do get irritated by the same friends who always claim “we could never afford for me to give up my job” um seriously??? Do you think it was EASY for me to give up 50% of my income…. I dare you to find ANYONE who is the middle class to say “sure, we dont need that other half of our money”....... I truly believe that MOST families can do it, if they want to….. but that is the big if…. as I said before I do struggle with my identity being all wrapped up in mothering…. somedays I long to be something other than someone else’s snot rag. I can certainly understand and appreciate why the majority of people want to work, there have been some dark days where I would have given just about anything to be at work instead of cleaning up puke, shit or the same 50,000 small toys that clutter my house all day.
The bottom line is, thank goodness we have choice…. but there is no magic one choice fits all…. you gotta do whats right for you!
By Melaniek on 2010 11 01
I definitely agree that her opinion is not the popular one (since I like to think that most people are more open minded), She makes such generalities. There are many reasons why women choose to work (or not) and also there are many things that we do and then bitch about even though we are glad we did them. So, while I think that ALL mother’s (working or not) can tend to struggle with all that there is to do in one day, we have the right to kvetch sometimes- we should be able to bitch a little- get things off our chest- complain about life’s responsibilities and days gone by when we had less to worry about and live up to. So let it out and let’s support each other- don’t chastise another for their choices. Just because we complain or worry that we aren’t living up to a certain standard doesn’t mean we don’t love our families and our roles in life. We are just a little tired and frazzled sometimes and need to vent! Deal with it. Life isn’t so cut and dry- life isn’t just 4 choices. And with any decision comes ups and downfalls- no matter what choice you make.
I just don’t like how judgy she is. Get off your high horse woman. To each her own. I choose not to put my child in daycare, but that doesn’t mean that I have the right to feel better than someone who does make that choice for whatever reason. And who’s to say that we even need to be REALLY good at one thing? So what if things fall through the cracks, who cares if the to-do list lengthens and then is eventually crumbled up and thrown away. As long as we are happy, then letting a few things slide here and there is no big deal. Even if you have to have a little give and take when you put your mom hat on and when you put your work hat on. Nobody expects you to be perfect- especially your children.
By Michelle M on 2010 11 01
With all due respect, anyone who takes issue with the guest writer’s opinion may want to reread their own comment a few times before passing judgement on “bitchiness”. She has a perfectly legitimate and viable point of view. You didn’t like her tone? Well, that’s what honesty sounds like without the American penchant for sugar-coating an opinion with feel good bullshit.
There is obviously a lot of grey area that can be covered in between the “4 choices”; however; I happen to wholeheartedly agree with general sentiment of the guest writer and my wife feels exactly the same (I forwarded her this post). Why? Childless adults are the minority (by a very very very long mile).
Day in and day out we are judged by breeders as being “less” because we made the right decision for us. We are looked down upon for being “selfish” or because “we just don’t get the joy of parenthood”. We are judged as being less responsible. We are constantly assaulted with baby goods, baby sounds, and baby smells. The societal expectation of parenthood is a never-ending repetition of “well, you will know [how wonderful parenthood is] when you have kids”.
Then, we get to listen to all the kvetching from friends and family about sleeplessness, cost, and emotional crap that goes along with parenthood. We watch as our nieces and nephews throw tantrums, are spoiled rotten, are never disciplined for fear of harming their “growth”, and get “outsourced” to their grand parents. We sit back and observe as our sister-in-law is sedated to “cope” and our brother-in-law plays golf three times each week to avoid being a dad (don’t bother arguing that these examples are exceptions). We go on with our lives as our “friends” disappear because they no longer have time to spend with anyone who doesn’t have children their kids can play with.
And, then, we have to endure the insult of having our opinions regarding parenthood disregarded as ignorant or labeled “mean spirited”. Someone mentioned a pedestal?
Most people view having children as an obligation of being a human being. Parenting is a decision… that should be a much tougher decision to make than it is for the vast majority of people who have children.
By Paul on 2010 11 01
Actually, not having children really does mean that you don’t have a right to say what it is like to be a mother. Because being a mother is something that you will never understand unless you are one. And that is what is cut and dry.
By Jennifer on 2010 11 01
even if you raise your child in a family with:
a perfectly balanced nuclear nest of organic eating…spirituality…extracurricular activities…homeschooling…etc?
the rest of us will still get to ‘em at some point and mess them up in one way or another.
By andrea on 2010 11 01
See, I can understand this a bit as a woman who was early in my career and watched the smokers go out and take a break every hour while I worked and the people with children leave on time while I stayed late. And I get it from a woman who works and wants to do great at her job AND be a great parent. And I know I’m not going to be as good as I want at both and maybe that’s my OWN issue. So I get that.
And Paul, if you talk to any parent honestly, I don’t think we glow about our children tirelessly. I tell people all the time, Dude, this shit ain’t for everyone. The only reason my friends without children don’t spend more time with me, or I them, is because the children ARE part of my life and I don’t have the luxury to be as flexible, but I am willing to do things without them (and by willing I mean I have to or else I we would all be dead).
By Mrs. Flinger on 2010 11 01
I love being a mom. I don’t love my job, right now, but it’s okay and pays the bills. I do hope someday to find something I really love. I’m really glad she gave a pass to single moms in case of death or divorce, very big of her. What about layoffs, husband pursuing a dream job which pays very little, illness preventing you from working, parents who want to raise kids who can see many other options? Are those okay too?
What would be really awesome if only the wealthiest people had children, because that would make this world a truly better place. The children could have a mom or dad with them 24x7, catering to their every need for 20 years. Sorry, just saw Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and the wealthiest kids are just super people.
Sure, parents who feel guilty every hour of the day do need to change something, but this attitude is pretty insulting.
By Nicole on 2010 11 01
I may be the only one but I don’t see the problem with the guest poster’s post so much. I mean, that is her opinion and she is just one person on a blog…like any of us…who the hell cares what she thinks? Her opinion isn’t having an impact on anyone - it is one in a billion and she has no more weight than any of us (well, except for the part where we parents hold some sway/influence over our children and totally outnumber her).
Also, she didn’t say that “hey you moms who work and have kids suck.” She is saying ‘you made the choice so stop complaining.’ At least that is how I read it with the “get over the guilt, get over the struggle.” Obviously that reasoning is flawed - if we got over our emotions, we’d be dead. I don’t think she is advocating suicide…
By Ewokmama on 2010 11 01
I removed that last comment because it wasn’t made by me. Gr.
By Mrs. Flinger on 2010 11 01
The whole argument is so ridiculous and tired. If you want my opinion…ahem…I don’t think there is ANY perfect scenario, in every single situation possible there is always something to bitch or worry about. What I really want to know is why she has such a strong opinion on this subject. It doesn’t pertain to her other than her choosing to listen to the argument, then posing her abrasive reaction. That right there tells me she has remorse and feels the need to justify her choice. Whatever, just another windbag looking for purpose is how I see it.
By Ashley on 2010 11 01
I actually agree with the guest poster. I am more of a hybrid is in this situation, I bought into the ideal that having a child would ‘complete me’ and I couldn’t imagine getting old without having some support. So I got pregnant and had my first child and you know what? It’s so incredibly hard I can’t even put it into words. But here’s the thing, I know how hard it is, and I actually DO parent my child and don’t take short cuts or the easy way out, however I WILL NOT HAVE ANOTHER ONE. I learned my lesson, this is not for everyone and although I’d cut my arm off before I’d let my daughter get hurt, I would never consciously decide to have another child and put more of a burden on my life.
That said, here’s what gets me, it’s the women who complain the hardest about doing/having it all and keep having more children! Those are the women that shouldn’t complain. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It’s that simple, I applaud the guest poster for making that decision because parenting is NOT for everyone.
By Chris on 2010 11 01