I don’t think your daughter meant to pick a feminist fight…
So randomly reading my facebook stream tonight I see a link to this article. This feminist-working-mom writer interprets her daughters question, “If dad made more money you wouldn’t work, right?!?!” with a wee bit of sass for my taste. I don’t disagree with many of her points, but I’m pretty sure her daughter’s question was rooted in a desire to have at least one parent not, and I quote,
“hunched over the computer and planning my work day while the daily circus of morning family activity had played out.”
As humans our deepest desire is to connect with other humans. We all crave it. We all need it. And while clearly this mom is very happy connecting with other adults in her working environment, and that is completely ok, it saddens me that in this article she doesn’t seem to consider the fact that her 10 year old daughter wishes there were a world where she could connect with her mom over breakfast, and mom not be worried about planning her work day.
I don’t want to pick a feminist fight either, as I have so much admiration for working moms. They truly work double duty and I am in awe of so many of my working momma friends and my sisters. I am just a little surprised that this particular working mom doesn’t get that kids are very selfish, especially when it comes to getting attention and love from their parents.
“What unnerves me is realizing that somehow, my own daughter has picked up on the idea that for a mother to not work is the optimum situation, the one that, if money were no object, of course one would choose.”
I don’t think her daughter has “picked up” on anything in our culture. Further, it annoys me that she wants to blame Modern Family or the SAHM’s who volunteer in her daughters school for planting sexist thoughts. I think her daughter was only expressing her ideal world, where she, the child, could have it all. Where she could have a sense of security both in being provided for and being cared for by her parents. Is it really that offensive that she wishes she had more of your attention in the mornings before she heads off to school?
The CEO and I have discussed often that one thing we both desired and appreciated about our parents, beyond even their unconditional love, was their time and how they spent it with us. It is true what they say, ‘time with your children is priceless’ …. to them. As parents, we know all to well the price we pay for staying home, or leaving work early, to be with our kids. But to our kids, the fact that we are there, with them, is priceless. They would trade anything for more of that.
Working moms are amazing. They are. And I really want to reach out to this mom and tell her not to be offended by her daughters comment. She isn’t trying to offend you and what you’ve accomplished in your career. She isn’t parroting a political statement from the SAHM lobby in the cafeteria. And you are right, in a few years when she is off at college dreaming big dreams of her own she will probably be damn proud of you and all you accomplished in your career.
But right now that sweet 10 year old girl is simply telling you that she thinks you are amazing and the most wonderful thing in the world, and if it were up to her, yes, she would like to spend more quality time with you, without giving up the comforts she knows you and dad currently work to provide. Because you are her mom, and that is the only job title she cares about.
It doesn’t have to change your answer:
“I like my work. My work is important to me. I want to work.” She looked at me, puzzled, and asked, “Why?” ”I always want to make you proud of me,” I told her that morning. “And this is how I do it.”
That is a great answer, and one she will grow to understand and appreciate. But tomorrow, maybe put the laptop away at breakfast and spend a few extra minutes with her. She’ll be glad you did.