I sometimes read books on business strategy. I do not read advice or self-help books. I will not entertain reading any books by women or men who tell me how I can (or can’t) have it all because I am a working mother.
The business community and women in general have been in a flutter this year over Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” as if we’ve never had anyone, man or woman, write about a woman’s career path. I honestly did not understand the fuss.
Now the President of Barnard College, Debora L. Spar, is telling women it’s ok to be second best. Her publisher, Sarah Crichton Books released “Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection” today. Why do I know this? Not because I care what’s on the best seller list or that she was profiled in the New York Times, but because a working mom friend shared the article on Facebook.
I do not need a woman who made over $500,000 simply by serving on the board of Goldman Sachs telling me that I am going to settle because I am a working mom who is convinced that I must be perfect. First of all, what in the hell would she know about settling? According to a Bloomberg News article posted on June 16, 2011, Debora L. Spar made more money from serving on a board than most Americans will ever see in an annual combined salary between two working parents. This half a million dollar figure does not include her salary and benefits she receives from her employer or any other income she makes.
Second of all, working moms do not need women who spend their annual salary on a nanny, personal chef or chauffeur to tell us how to be a better working mom or to forgive ourselves for not being perfect. Well, thank you very much Ms. Jesus Christ, but I don’t need your pontification to feel better about the job I am doing as a working mom. I am also not seeking your forgiveness because you believe I am not doing it all and that I should be ok with that.
If you would bother to walk among the average American Mom, which clearly you do not, here is what we are doing:
- We pay thousands of dollars annually in day care juggling works schedules in order to pick our children up on time before we get charged for being late.
- We are dropping off our children exactly when the daycare opens at 6:30 am so we can get to work on time. When I think of how I had to drag my two-year-old son out of bed to be at daycare that early, I cringe.
- We rely on family who might live near us to help us either watch our children at no cost or for a much lower amount than a center or in-home daycare would cost. For families like mine, we are SOL because our families live out of state.
- If we have teenagers and younger children, we are relying on them to watch their younger siblings often at their cost of juggling school work, sports, other activities and social time.
- We rely on our network of other moms to help us out in a bind. I thank God every day for the stay-at-home Mom friends I had whom I leaned on over the years when my children were younger and I was in a bind.
- We rely on our network of working moms who’s children do the same sport or activity as ours so we can carpool to and from practices. And yes, the Dads step in as well.
- We are telecommuting or flexing our schedule when our employer permits it. And, we are on our knees every day thanking God we have that option.
- We take our children to our office’s onsite daycare because we get to spend more time with them on the commute, even when that commute is hellish and lasts over an hour each way.
- We are not seeking promotions or other career opportunities because we may not have the flexibility we enjoy with our current employer.
- We are sometimes leaving our older children at home with our younger ones when we have shift work. You see, your Starbucks barista, local dry cleaner worker or nurse, no matter how great the company is, still cannot afford day care for their children.
- We are serving whatever we can for meals that is somewhat nutritional and quick. Crockpots get used often. Do you even know what one is? Briner (breakfast and dinner) might be used weekly. While it may not be Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon (which I make on the weekends when I have the time), we grin and bear it. Unfortunately, there are more nights than we care to admit that include fast food or sandwiches.
- We are squeezing in exercise when we can but not nearly as often as we should.
- We are volunteering in our community and profession.
- We are worried that we are failing our children.
- We are drinking wine. Sometimes a lot of it.
So, I am asking the women of privilege to stop writing about working moms. We are managing. It is never perfect, even if we had the money that you do. Find some other woman’s issue to focus on. Seriously. You have a voice that people listen to. Please change your message.