Cocky and ignorant = ME
Those words only begin to describe the person I was on the telephone ten years ago, listening to one of my most precious friends vent her feelings of deep frustration and isolation with regard being a stay at home mother of small children while having a husband that traveled excessively for business. At the time of our conversation, I was experiencing success professionally and parentally (or so I thought), so full of my own fantastic-ness, I couldn’t understand my friend’s exasperated weariness.
“Crash”, one of my long suffering and loyal best friends, was struggling. She was the only stay at home mom among our close group of friends, juggling a sassy six year old daughter, a strong willed three year old son, a crazy mutt (that I’m sure was part goat) and husband traveled 3-4 days out of the week. When he arrived home, they were both grumpy and tired and completely removed from each other’s experience, so much so, that Crash decided to dial me up for a bitch session. She needed SOMEONE who could relate, to commiserate, to understand and listen. She didn’t get what she needed.
I should have been a good listener, a port in the storm, providing her warmth and relief from the chaos and sense of uncertainty that she was feeling as an overwhelmed young wife and mother. Instead I was an asshole. Metaphorically yet also literally; my “help” was a dark, toxic and claustrophobic environment that only increased her feelings of worthlessness. And my "advice" was total shit.
A bit of the conversation –
Mac had the nerve to ask what I do all day. WHAT DOES HE THINK I do all day? He said I should be able to get more done when he’s gone and as much as I do get, he always notices what I don’t do. I know he thinks I just sit around all day, he doesn’t say it directly, but I know that’s what he thinks. He has NO idea what it is like when………….
Well hold on here. Let’s me be the devil’s advocate for a second. Help you see it from his point of view. He works his ass off, commutes, travels constantly and sleeping in strange hotels missing you guys. If he doesn’t go to work, you guys don’t get money. It’s not like you can’t pay the electric bill if you blow off the laundry for a few days. You have a lot more flexibility. I mean what DO you do all day that you can’t get it all done? I know you watch “All My Children.” God, if I had as much time at home as you do, I’d love it. I’d get a shit-ton of stuff done with nobody interrupting me, no strict schedule to keep, you get to play with your kids all day instead of drop them off at daycare and then come home exhausted and still have to clean and care for them. I think you are lucky. Why are you unhappy?
I didn’t say I was unhappy and I realize that I’m lucky. What I’m saying is that it’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s just….forget it.
And I did. I forgot it. I forgot that I was a complete and total jackass, full of myself, unsympathetic, unsupportive and acting more like the Devil himself than merely his advocate, who also happens to be an asshole. Crash forgave me and never once uttered an “I told you so,” when years later I was the one calling her to vent about the exact same stuff she had spoken of ten years prior. So when I read about the jackass-tastic comment made by Hilary Rosen, I quickly reminded the hot sparks burning my ear hairs to stop exploding with reactive repugnancy, that I’m guilty of doing exactly what she did, yet worse. I didn’t just diss a fellow mother. I dissed a friend - BIG TIME.
And Hilary and I aren’t the only ones who have done this in a grand and stupid way. History is full of stories of women fighting for their rights, struggling to find a place of belonging and equality in the world, yet wasting their power and energy fighting each other. I’d be willing to bet that even cavewomen had some good club fights and hair pulling matches. Will we ever learn?
This passionate and long standing debate about the ever changing role of women in society is fueled by complex issues that cannot be captured, understood and judged by a few sounds bytes thrown around by political pundits. Within the various groups of women there are misunderstandings and misinformation, not to mention such vast differences in us as human beings. This has and will go on for centuries I’m sure.
It’s damn near impossible to form a clear and distinct political propaganda plan in order to sell a candidate to mom voters, but God knows there are too many dollars at stake for these strategists to stop trying. Women have so much power and influence in today’s world, politicians and businesses are desperately trying to figure out how to harness our power for their benefit. I think they’d have more success in this area if they were to realize just how difficult it is for US as a group to figure out how to do this amongst ourselves. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs, articles, books, businesses and bitch sessions trying to give us some guidance right damn now with a zillion different ideas, opinions, parenting tips, and techniques to choose from. Good luck penis people, you think you are going to figure us out if we can’t even agree on the basics?
Cocky and ignorant = NOT ME. Not anymore! (Well, maybe a little bit)
A little over eight years ago, I left the workforce due to unforeseen complications of pregnancy and remained at home to care for my daughter, whose needs required my constant presence. For eight years I have struggled to figure out how to find a way to have a fraction of the feelings of success and accomplishment that I had when I was in the professional world. And this is not because I’m not proud of being a full time mom to my children or because I don’t think what I’m doing is vitally important.
It’s because this job is very hard. It’s harder than anything I’ll ever do and there is no way to know if I’m doing it right. I know this now. I REALLY know this now.
I am caring for and civilizing human beings here and since every interaction I have had with any other human being over the years has each been distinctly different in terms of who they are, and what belief systems and ideas are inimitable to them as unique individuals, I've received plenty of unsolicited opinions about my parenting choices. Some people think I’m “wasting” my education and experience by staying home. My husband has struggled, being the sole breadwinner for our family, knowing that my earning potential could provide us with a more comfortable financial life. My kids want me here, yet they have increasing needs that require funds that aren't going to increase without me in the workforce.
At first I NEEDED to be at home, then I WANTED to be at home, now I need to be working but I want to be at home. And I want to be working. GAH - I want it all. I value both roles. I’ve been trying to find full time employment now for over two years while working part time as a freelance writer. I’m alternately sinking, floating, and treading water as I try to figure out what role really suits me as a professional and a mother. Fellow mothers, both stay at home and working moms, help keep me afloat while I figure this out.
And so something I refuse to do is try to drown a woman like Hilary Rosen with angry reactions to her words. She’s a mom. Girlfriend sank herself a bit with her comments and she knows that. What she could use is a life-vest, keeping her afloat, because after all, isn't she trying to do exactly what we are all trying to do? Every mom has to do it for themselves. To find where we belong, where we are best suited and where our skills and passion are best directed and utilized for making the world a better place for our children whether at home or in an office. She said a wrong thing. She also said she was sorry. We all make mistakes. I can't even manage to make a decent dinner most nights.
I don’t agree with what she said, but I also believe that she didn’t mean to disparage or demean the role of a stay at home mother, to make that group seem less important to the world at large. It’s bad enough that within our gender and sisterhood of motherhood, we struggle to find ways to feel confident enough in our own role so that we don’t resort making judgments stemming from this insecurity as well as the massive amount of misunderstandings, miscommunication or misinformation among mothers.
Why are we so quick to jump down each other’s throats? Hilary Rosen apologized, Ann Romney accepted it, but they both have roles to play. What I’m not sure either of them have considered, is that by continuing to focus on their different roles and opinions, they have forgotten that as mothers, they have another really important role to play. They want to be good mothers, to raise healthy children who will work to make the world a better place. Mother Theresa famously said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” I want to remind Hilary and Anne that as women and mothers, they belong to each other. It’s time to move forward together.
In different ways, these women are both working for MEN who want to get ahead, men who have more clearly defined roles in society, men who struggle less amongst themselves to be supportive of each other as they work toward common goals. MEN who wish to harness the awesome and EPIC power of women, women who continue to engage in the nasty business of bringing each other down even though like men, we have common goals. And let's be honest, unofficially, we are way more powerful as a group than men will ever be. That's why they need us so much, want us so much, and struggle so hard to understand how to mobilize and utilize our power!
Has anyone else noticed the irony in this?
We must do everything in our power to STOP looking for ways to tear each other down and focus on ways to raise each other up and remember that no matter our differences, we are always looking for the place where we belong among fellow mothers. No matter what role we take as women in the world, no mother should be left behind, broken or defeated, feeling as though they aren’t doing enough or not doing something that is worthy of respect and admiration.
Next to being human, the hardest job in the world is raising one. Carry on, Bitches. Carry on.