Do you watch the Momversation episodes? If you’re not a parent, I can understand not really being interested, but if you are, you might want to check them out, despite the somewhat nauseating title. (I mean, seriously, because I’m a mom, I need to add a “mom” prefix to all nouns? “Well, let’s see, today I needed momceries so I went to the momstore and got mombread and momilk and mombutter.”)
One of the most recent episodes, “Are You a Stressed Working Mom?” was of particular interest to me, seeing as how my picture is in the dictionary next to “stressed working mom,” though you might not have recognized that it was me due to the blur caused by my rushing out the door and that red halo around my head caused by my stressed out hair.
That episode has already sparked some criticism, which was communicated very well, respectfully and succinctly, by the lovely Miss Zoot.
Before I get further into this, I want to make it clear that we are all operating on the fact (yes, FACT) that all mothers who are active participants in the lives of their families work their asses off. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), a work-at-home mom (WAHM), or a mom who works outside the home (MWWOH?), you are dealing with stress, performance anxiety, failures, and successes. Just because they may take different forms doesn’t mean that one is more important than the other. If you do not accept this fact, then please retreat to your alternate reality. Earth will miss you, no doubt.
I also want to state that folks who do not have children also face many of the same stresses, all of which deserve an equal platform, but I think we can all agree that things are just really different when you do have kids. Plus, since I had my son at such a young age, my entire professional life has been as some form of a working mother, so my perspective is entirely shaped by this fact. Cool?
Anyway, back to the video. It’s not like I expected the full spectrum of issues surrounding being a mother and having a career to be represented in a seven-minute video, but I did feel a little shafted because there are HUGE issues that just weren’t addressed. As far as this video being a good conversation starter for mothers who work primarily from home in their chosen/desired professions, then it hit the mark, and that’s totally valid.
But me and Miss Zoot and the legions of women whose working/parenting lives don’t look like those of the panelists weren’t really in there, which is too bad because bringing up that discussion would have unfolded the experiences of women who deal with really thought-provoking issues that affect ALL mothers EVERYWHERE. Like, wage gaps and inadequate benefits. Dealing with the prejudices that co-workers and bosses might have about mothers. Even just getting the culture of work to accept and celebrate that many kick-ass women have children and still desperately desire to have a career, especially when that career isn’t always one that can be done from home. Plus other stuff like the gap of child care between parents and how that burrows into gender roles that have been around forever.
These are not easy conversations to have but it’s important that they happen.
Perhaps most importantly is the conversation surrounding how exactly one accomplishes all that needs to happen and one of the moms, Lisa Belkin, in the Momversation asked about compromises, and I perked up, all ready to hear about, “Oh, yeah, this shirt has never ever been folded.” But it was more about career compromises which is another, “Oh TOTALLY!” aspect of this whole thing.
See, here’s where I’m coming from: I work full-time at a job that is good, but not exactly ideal for me and my career aspirations. I am the sole provider for my family as my husband has been working on his BS for the past several years and had the awesome timing of finishing college exactly when the economy made that dramatic, cartoonish bomb-dropping sound. I’m attending grad school part-time and as part of my requirements I’ve started working on an internship on a super-part-time basis. I also continue to free-lance write, though I’ve had to limit how much I put myself out there for projects simply due to a lack of time.
So my compromises are numerous every single day. I don’t sleep enough. I stress-eat. At around 8 p.m. I am completely out of steam so I don’t do things like prepare my coffee maker or the baby’s lunch for the next day, opting instead to watch TV. I hardly ever clean and when I do it’s simply to take the house down a notch from total squalor. On Sunday, I exercised for the first time in many months.
And these are all just the things that I’m willing to admit to right now.
As luck would have it, I have to get back to work since I took the time to write this while I was eating lunch. But that’s my contribution (momtribution?) to that aspect of the discussion.