Today, per usual, I awoke to a slew of emails, including one from PopSugar, featuring the headline: 9 Signs Being a Working Mom Is Right For You.
I blinked. Rubbed my eyes. Chugged my coffee.
Was this an Onion headline? A funny friend goofing on me? Was I still asleep and having a feminist nightmare?
I mean, we all know that most moms who work NEED to work. Or else you and your family would be living in a van down by the river. And even then you and your kids and maybe your elderly parents and disabled sibling you care for would need to eat once in a while. Oh, and you need clothes and blankets and bandaids and tampons. You know, stuff. To live. So you work. Just like 71 percent of moms. Just like the 40 percent of moms who are the BREADWINNERS in their families.
Statistics that we know all about, because they come from the reputable people at Pew, and they have been published a ZILLION TIMES because nearly every thinking mom — and dad, and employer, and politician and curious person — cares about these things.
Oh no. This headline was no joke. This was an earnest title linking to a slideshow pointing out all the reasons that you, mom, should not feel guilty about earning a living.
Now, I’ll cut the writer Kate Schweitzer some slack. Working mom guilt is a real and terribly dangerous thing, one that holds women back in countless ways. The fight against working-mom guilt is a very noble cause — one I tackle in my own work and in my life. Schweitzer does point out some important studies and articles that refute the nonsense notion that stay-at-home moms are superior parents to their wage-earning peers:
- “One of the biggest fears many women have about being a working mom is the added stress of balancing a full-time job and parenting. Numerous studies, however, report that working moms are not just happier than their stay-at-home counterparts, but they also show no increase in psychological distress. Women who have a child and then leave the workforce, on the other hand, experience major increases in stress and suffer higher rates of depression.”
- “A recent large-scale study revealed that the sheer amount of time parents spend with kids has no bearing on their development. In fact, it could be doing more harm than good when the time isn’t meaningful and the parents aren’t engaged.”
- “Studies have shown that working moms have a positive impact on their children’s eventual careers and finances. In particular, daughters of working moms completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles, and earned higher incomes than those who had a stay-at-home mom. So just by going to work, you can say you’re helping your kids find greater success later in life.”
But we are also insulted by these broad, sweeping, unsupported diddles:
- “When you leave the house for work every day, it’s much easier to shift roles — and catch a break.”
Um, says who? Also – working at a traditional office is not the norm for increasing numbers of people — including moms. According to a Citrix survey, a third of work in the United States is completed remotely, and nearly 40 percent of teleworkers are women.
- “Yes, in these modern times, we shouldn’t see a father’s role any differently than a mother’s, but it’s still the case that in more traditional families where a dad works out of the house and a mom stays home, the parenting responsibilities aren’t often divided equitably. But when you both have deadlines to hit and hours to clock, you naturally act more as a team.”
I don’t even know what is happening here.
Two working parents does not mean equal partnership, as a quick as a quick Google search will show:
Pew tells us that mothers who work full time spend an average of 1.7 hours per day on housework, compared with 1.2 hours per day among fathers who work full time. When it comes to child care activities, full-time working moms spend an average of 1.4 hours per day, compared with 1 hour per day by full-time working dads.
An oft-cited Ohio State University study examined 200 highly educated couples, all of whom said they sought egalitarian marriages. Time diaries showed that both the men and women worked about 40 hours a week. And both each spent about 15 hours a week doing housework.
After the couples’ first babies were 9 months old, the women continued to do about 15 hours a week of housework – the added 22 hours of child care. The men spent 14 hours on child care, and spent 5 fewer hours on housework.
Stay-at-home moms taken on proportionally even more house- and child-care than their husbands, but that is their job, right?
Then PopSugar lobs us this head-scratcher:
- “Many working moms, if left to their own devices at home, would never get out of their PJs. Having an office to go to gives you the perfect excuse to actually look — and feel — your best.”
Oh no she didn’t! Hey stay-at-home moms: did PopSugar just passive-aggressively call you slovenly slob? Sounds like it to me.
She definitely suggests that moms should work to earn extra fun money for manis, fancy luncheons with the gals and FASHION!
- “If you aren’t able to contribute financially, you might feel too guilty to ever get a manicure or go out to a lunch that doesn’t involve ordering from the counter. Sure, when you earn a salary, you still have to budget (raising kids isn’t cheap!), but you likely don’t feel any pangs of remorse before splurging on a nice dress . . . or three. Hey, you need to look good at your next board meeting!”
Note to self: Call doctor and ask about blood pressure medication.
Zero argument from me when it comes to the point that women do indeed need their own financial autonomy for numerous, research-backed reasons. These include:
- Financial security. Even in married couples, two incomes is more secure than one.
- Marriages end. People die and become disabled and unemployed. Two incomes is more secure than one.
- Marriages are happier and more secure when both couples work and are satisfied in their jobs.
- As cited above, women who work are happier, healthier, raise higher-achieving children — and also pay taxes and contribute to the economy.
And yes, not having to ask your spouse permission like a dependent child every time you want to make a purchase is indeed a legitimate reason to earn your own money, woman. But really, PopSugar? That is one of your Top 9 reasons?!
Of course, these points are all about married couples — a family model that is quickly becoming the minority. Today, 10 million, or 25 percent of families with children at home are headed by single moms, and the majority of millennial moms are unwed mothers.
About a quarter of unmarried custodial parents receive child support, and alimony applies to few.
In other words — millions and millions of single moms need to work if they and their children will survive — just like most partnered moms (remember: 40% of breadwinners are women!). Yet the article completely ignored this life-sustaining fact, and instead focused on that dress — or three!! — that that fun money will afford you, silly, pretty ladies!
Requests for comment sent to PopSugar’s public relations department and Kate Schweitzer did not receive response.
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