Monday, July 16, 2007

Modern Mom

I found this charming website by mistake this morning. In fact, I seriously think I was doing actual work when I stumbled across it. Check out the web site. It is fun and silly and serious all at once.

I was check out the @Work section and I saw this article. This is a portion of an interview with Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake - I thought it was very timely that I should write about these similar things today. I have yet to read this book and really since I am being honest, I have no desire to either. I am also not trying to spark controversy here - I thought what she wrote was interesting and, to me, somewhat helpful, mostly just what I needed to bolster me up a bit from feeling so low about things.

What advice do you have for women who find themselves in a social environment where they are the token working mom among stay-at-home moms?

Leslie: One of the things I would say to working moms is ‘Get through these years.’ You are going to be very grateful that you have maintained your ability to deal with whatever challenges life throws your way. It will be better for you, better for your children and it will make your family a lot more secure no matter what happens. These days when a typical American family has two kids if they are two or three years apart the really intensive period of hands on mothering lasts 15 years or less and if you graduate from college when you are 22 lets say you live to 82. That is 60 years. So 15 years out of 60 in an adult lifetime is a relatively short period. For more than 40 years the social scientists have been comparing the children of working mothers with the children of stay-at-home mothers and trying to establish that kids turn out better if you have a stay at home mom and it is simply not true. So we have all been victimized by this fiction.

Samantha: Did you ever experience mommy guilt?

Leslie: Absolutely. Ever minute of every day. When my kids were little I felt guilty when I was working because I wasn’t with my kids and I felt guilty when I was with my kids because I wasn’t working. And looking back on it, the only thing I regret is having wasted all that energy feeling guilty. I would like to shake myself in that previous era and say, "Get over it!"

Have you faced more criticism because you worked from home which is thought of as an idyllic work setup?

Leslie: I think that people say, "Well you don’t know what it is like being a working mother" but that is not really true because we all suffer the same pain when we have to walk out the door for whatever reason and we have a two year old hanging on to our knees saying "Mommy don’t go." My job was idyllic in some ways in that I was in the house a lot but then I would get a call to be on a plane for Nairobi or Dubai the next day and I would have to go. It is never easy -- the juggling and coping with emergencies that every working mother has to do.

Of all the industrialized Western nations the United States has the least family friendly policies in place. The other countries put us to shame and we need to start asserting the needs of our families in a more effective way in order for things to begin to change in a direction that will serve both men and women as well as our children.

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