At first I thought I'd hold my tongue on this one. I am a single (very late) twenty-something who only answers to myself at the end of the day, so what do I know about balancing work and a husband/children? Well, everything and nothing. I was raised by two parents who worked full-time. My mom always had a career -- an enviable one at that and I had the same "babysitter" from infancy through middle school. Luck was on my side as she was a wonderful addition to my life and both my sister and I remained close to her (even spending Christmas Eve with her and her husband) for many years. Hopefully that should suffice as my disclaimer: My parents were able to afford great childcare. In fact, I had a very frank discussion (on a date no less) about being raised by a working mother and he asked me if I felt my parents were present and I answered with a resounding YES. Truth be told, I never felt neglected
Much noise has been made in the media recently surrounding highly successful working mothers. Remember when Marisa Mayer was named CEO of Yahoo! sporting a baby bump? All hell broke loose. How could she properly do her job if she was taking a maternity leave? Well, it turns out she returned to work after a few weeks, so that should have quieted the noise right? Um, no. Mommy bloggers took to the internet lambasting her for leaving her newborn baby so soon after birth to return to work. How dare she! The irony was not lost on me. You see I have always been under the impression that part of what Gloria Steinem tirelessly worked for over the past several decades was the right for a woman to choose.
Clearly that should mean the right to be a stay-at-home mother as well, right? Lately it feels like these two groups of women have been pitted against each other. Some say it's a media creation, but I am beginning to believe it's a case of the "grass is always greener." Organic food, breastfeeding, and natural childbirth have become "trendy" although I hate to use that term when it comes to parenting. So those choosing to have an epidural or use formula become "lesser" mothers. That really pisses me off. In a major way. It also ruffled my feathers when I read the backlash against Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her book slated for release this week. From the excerpts I've read so far, she suggests that women do not fight for themselves in the workplace as readily as men and is proud of her choices as a mother. She's the first to admit she is privileged and does not apologize for her success. She's one brilliant, badass, business woman.
Shouldn't women support other women's right to choose what works best for them. I have friends that are stay-at-home moms and I have friends that are working moms. I do, however, believe that women can wholeheartedly disagree with other women. Not being able to do so would be sexist in itself. Does any of this make sense?
I think my point is, I have plenty of friends who make choices in their personal lives that I would never make for myself and I'm sure they all feel the same way about mine. Yet, I respect their right to make those choices and I consider myself lucky that my role has not been predetermined by society. I come from a long line of working women (my mother's mother ran a business late into her 60's) and I just really admire that. I also admire the mother wrangling three kids on the subway who are impeccably dressed and well-behaved without looking the slightest bit disheveled. I mean, only superwoman could do that!