We Forgot to Tell You--We Can't Do it All
Image: freeimages.com/Julia Freeman-Woolpert
I am a mother of two, and I work professionally full-time (much more out of necessity than out of a desire to). As I scroll through my personal newsfeed, I am always struck with the obvious disparity between what stay-at-home mothers tell themselves and others about how much they work (and about the "crazy" pace at which they do their work) and how much less work they suddenly have to do, come Back-to-School and the subsequent 9 months of every year.
There seems to be a notion hooked into the stay-at-home vs. working motherhood "battle" that working in any kind of professional capacity is Me Time. It's not Me Time any more than being surrounded by your children's dare-devil gymnastics from your living room cat tower, their cries, pouts and the pint-sized human water torture of "Mom!....Mommy!...Moooom!" is.
But many of us professionally working mothers (or, PWMs) are not CEOs or "Goddesses" of anything, let alone of our own domestic environs, as my Stay-at-Home counterparts rightfully say about themselves. If you are working professionally, you are probably working for someone else and that someone else is always looking over your shoulder. The demands of your children replaced by the demands of clients, associates, supervisors--only you can't tell them to re-direct their energy into something more mutually enjoyable, or to use a different tone, or to stop the demanding altogether, like you can your own children. You can't send your boss out to play while you get a grocery list put together. You can't distract your associates away from piling the files up on your desk effectively enough that you can pull out that basket of laundry to fold that's been sitting like a faintly mildewy, lavender-scented compost pile, since the last eclipse.
And you sure as heck do not have 9 months of weekdays that leave most of your hours free to get caught up on those things that you'd really like to have done to have a comfortable home and family life. You keep chipping away at all of those things, but they have to stay pushed to the perimeter of the 9-5. It's like the "in bed" joke. Dare you to list off anything and everything that a mom does. Then, instead of the punchline being, "...in bed", we PWMs do all of those things, "....and work full-time".
We are the many that, in the criminally few hours we have outside of work--have to choose between nourishing our children's minds with engaging play and helping with homework, or nourishing their bodies by using that same time to make dinner. Our children don't have summer; they have the school year and then they have day camp while we buzz around in the periphery, winning the bread and making the home. If your children are especially young, you likely operate in a state of being clinically drunk from exhaustion because you do it all, you're up at night with a baby, and there is no sleeping when your children do (because you are at work, and sleeping on your desk is considered inappropriate). For every one man that suffers from Alzheimer's, there are two women that do. Our children are growing up to skulk around as text-thumbed, screen-swiping socially stunted introverts at best, and kill other children in record numbers at worst. Can it all be linked?
The criminals here are not the stay-at-home mothers. They are not the mothers who find personal satisfaction and value in the workplace. Let's just say, that we got this far with women's equality only to realize that we forgot to see if the men would be on-board with picking up some of the slack. And so we literally do it all. Especially considering that men are losing professional traction, momentum and motivation in unprecedented numbers. Or, maybe less "losing", and more tossing their motivation to succeed (or at the very least, to equally support their families) out of the window with good riddance. They are men, after all. Along with burning the bras and zipping up the power suits--I wish someone would have stopped to spell out for the men that someone would still have to do the dishes. Someone would have to pack the lunches. Someone would have to bring the carpet and counter tops up to a cleanliness level that would stand a chance of passing the health code, if we are to be expected to work full-time and raise children with emotional intelligence and intellect higher than that of a fava bean. Knowing men, they needed to have been told. They aren't mind readers. So the daughters who've now married the sons of Women's Liberation are doing it all, and everyone is suffering as a result.