Saturday, June 23, 2012

When Will We See Some Action?

Every once and a while, the media gets it right. Instead of fanning the flames of the bogus "Mommy Wars," a story hits on the real issues that modern moms face today. It came up briefly when senior adviser Karen Hughes left her job at the White House during the Bush administration and then her colleague Mary Matalin quickly followed suit in 2002. It surfaced again when Elizabeth Vargas left her prestigious anchor position on ABC's World News Tonight in 2006 to be more accessible to her husband and new baby.

The latest is "Why Women Still Can't Have it All" by Anne-Marie Slaughter who gave up a high ranking state department job to spend more time with her family. Slaughter's cover story in the July/August issue of The Atlantic lays out all of the complex issues modern mothers face today -- everything from the disillusionment my generation feels for having been sold a bill of goods around the fallacy of 'having it all" (mine manifested itself in an irrational hatred for Gloria Steinem), to the disservice we continue to do to the next generation of mothers by pretending that we've got this work-life balance thing figured out, to the way our society hasn't changed to meet the demands of working women, to the pivotal but still constrained role the men in our lives play, to the unhealthy and unforgiving American workplace and culture of capitalism run amok that values and rewards people for working ridiculous hours.

While I'm thrilled that a major media outlet has finally comprehensively covered the issues that were the very impetus of this blog and been the bane of my existence since I became a mom 12 years ago, I can't help but be a tad cynical. Will this story just come and go with the wind, just like the Hughes and Vargas stories did earlier this century? What will finally be the impetus for change? Slaughter asserts that having more women in power will help, and I don't dispute that. But how will we get those women in power if those powerful positions are impossible for moms to attain? And who will demand change when the people afflicted by these issues just happen to be the busiest people on the face of the planet?

At the end of her article, Slaughter points out some hopeful signs of change and re-frames the debate from one that asks, "How can women have it all?" to "How can we allow all Americans (both parents and non-parents) to pursue healthy, happy, productive lives?" I do believe that will be a more productive discussion that would be more widely embraced. But when will we stop talking about these issues and start to see some action? After reading about, contemplating and blogging about these issues for more than a decade, I'm no longer hopeful that meaningful change will be seen in the course of my career. But can I dare to hold out hope that things will change for the better by the time my daughters are ready to make their career choices?


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Your Children Want YOU!

This story has been making the circuit on Facebook and has clearly struck a chord with moms. It's the same message I've often espoused on this blog. When did we decide we had to be Martha Stewart or the perfect mom? Again, too often we're our own worst enemy. We put too much pressure on ourselves.

Go read Your Children Want YOU! And then forget the dirty dishes or the laundry or the homemade, crafty thank you notes you have on your to-do list. Plop down in front of the TV with your kids, which is one of my favorite things to do.