Thursday, September 4, 2008

Working Mamas / Mama's Work

I'm on a tangent this week: Motherhood, work and the prejudices we Mamas still cope with, blatant and otherwise.

Before all this political stuff, way, way back when my little one was still an infant, my husband and I were discussing my decision to leave the workforce--a job at a major news outlet--to stay home to raise a family. I lamented the fact that a woman who makes such a decision, to move out of the professional sphere for a period of time to take on the challenging responsibilities raising a family presents, doesn't generally receive credit--or even respect--for the new skills (multi-tasking, troubleshooting, conflict resolution, out-of-the-box thinking, etc., etc., etc.) she has had to master. Her years as family CEO, COO and mentor are largely discounted and, on occasion, even mocked.

Yet I would argue that, after 2+ years of stay-at-home motherhood, I am more qualified to handle tough, timely decisions. I am a more of a hard worker now than I have ever been. And you better believe I've figured out how to prioritize.

What's the argument against us? That technology has advanced beyond our skills during our years away? That we won't be able to master all of the fancy, new tools that have become standard in our fields? Hooey. I'd never in my life changed a newborn's diaper, managed a projectile vomiting 8 1/2 pound baby, or operated on a POW's sleep schedule, but somehow I figured it out. The latest version of Microsoft Word doesn't scare me.

I'm not headed back to a cubicle just yet, but when or if I decide to, I think I'm going to put my mothering skills at the top of my resume.


Meghan said...

Very well said!!!!

Meaghan said...

Thank you!

beth♥ said...

Motherhood is the toughest, most demanding, job in the world. Bravo to you!

SZ said...

Woo-hoo! It's interesting, all the so-called Mommy Wars issues that are coming up this week. I'm keeping out of it (not being a mom and also holding some views that might be considered controversial) but it's fascinating to think/read about.

Meaghan said...

Bravo to all of us Mamas, Beth!

SZ, I'm DYING to know what controversial views you hold! Please share, if feel the urge. We're generally low-key around here. (Except for me, the rabble rouser of the bunch.) Plus, I know you and can vouch that you're a really nice person.

SZ said...

Well... I think babies need their moms. I think that if it's at all fiscally possible, mama should be home with baby for at least a year. When I read that Gov. Palin was back to work three days after delivering a premature, special needs baby -- well, I was kinda surprised. I know the state of Alaska was depending on her, but really, couldn't she have taken at least a couple of weeks off? I realize she brought her son to work with her, but it just doesn't feel right to me.

Now I'm worried about getting flamed. Please, I'm not a tough cookie -- it's just my opinion. It wouldn't matter to me if Palin were a Democrat or a Libertarian or a member of the Monster Raving Loony Party. This is not about politics for me -- just about the kids.

elancera said...

I agree with you sz. But its not about what you or I or anybody else thinks. Its about whether a mother should have the option of holding down an important job if she wishes.

I thought this argument was over long ago, but now the same people who argued that women should have control over their lives and should not have doors slammed in their faces are using the old a-womans-place-is-in-the-home arguments against a highly accomplished highly successful female.

Honestly I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it myself. Just seems really hypocritical to me.

Meaghan said...

SZ, please don't worry about getting flamed here. I won't tolerate it. I prefer intelligent discussion, which I think we're all pretty good at. I fully agree with you that babies--and children--need their mothers--and fathers. That's what family is all about. And I don't even think that the discussion breaks down on party lines, not anymore. (Thanks for going out on a limb and expressing yourself. We all benefit from discussion of important issues.)

Elancera, you put it so well. It seems so bizarre, like we're in the Looking Glass! All of the sudden, staunch feminists are arguing for women to stay home and raise their families and conservatives are the ones saying "You go girl!" How weird is this?

Ultimately, my biggest problem with it is that people never, ever level these arguments against men. No one ever says to a man "You shouldn't aim as high, you have a family now." That's the crux of it to me. It isn't about Republicans or Democrats or the Monster Raving Loony Party--it's about a woman's capability to govern--or do any other work, regardless of the state of her ovaries. In 2008, I am surprised that we--collectively, as women--still need to prove ourselves this much.

Just a few short months ago, Hillary had to cry to prove her "humanity." Read another way, Hillary had to cry to apologize for being strong.

Red, blue or polka dot, it's not right.

Ruth said...

It baffles me that we cannot just say, "Hey, do what works for you. Do what's right for you and your family. It'll all be okay." Why do we have something called "Mommy Wars?"
Human nature, I guess.

Meaghan said...

Sadly, human nature does seem to lean toward conflict.

But Ruth, you make my point exactly. Women should have the right to choose without having to explain themselves. You have a baby and you want to go back to work? Your choice. You don't? Fine too. You choose not to have a family at all? Great, less laundry for you.

Men don't undergo this scrutiny. And in the 21st Century, we shouldn't have to either.