It’s been many years since I first stayed with my German hostess. I’ve since been back to her amazing house and have had German cake and have eaten it. That’s no euphemism.
When I first visited her, I could arguably have been a corporate woman with a career and kids. I say arguably because I was a working at home mom in a very small company. Hardly “corporate world” in my eyes now.
I’ve since then joined the “I am not kidding this is seriously corporate American in the sense of a capital C” world. I work for one of the top 100 of the “Fortune 500” companies in the states, or, rather, in the world. While I’m both thankful for this job and sometimes surprised by it, there’s no escaping the corporation-ness that Betty was talking about all those years ago. And here’s the kicker: She was right. She was absolutely right. Let the record show me standing on my soap box with a sign saying, “I CAN NOT DO IT ALL” written on the board across my chest with my dark circles and my bald tires and my children clinging to the edges of my unhemmed skirt.
I have a post mostly written of what a normal day looks like for me now. It’s a half-written prose of “I wake up at 5:30 so I can….” and ends in some sort of sentence with too many consonants like, “And then I go to bed fhgjklskjsaljslkdjsjklaklkjasjl”
I can honestly say I had no fucking idea what I was getting in to when I thought we could do a two working parent, four hour commute, kids in sport HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA SANITY!- life. So, on this syndication, let me for the record say this, “YOUNG PEOPLE LISTEN UP: some of us women have idea and we know things. Even if we know things because we’re smart and know better than to experience them WE KNOW THINGS. If you have questions, come to us, the women-folk before you, and ask us. We will tell you. But ultimately, no decision is wrong, know this: it’s just hard or harder and we’re all here to nod and say yes and uhhu and yea. Whatever you choose, there’s no sense in analyzing it; it is what it is. Just have some chocolate, have a bath and blog the result. Like I am doing now.
Thank you, Betty, and all those who participated in the discussion so many years ago. I happen to read these comments again and again and I know, in my heart, the conversation is not over, it’s only begun. Thank you.
———The Original Post————-
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.