U.S. News & World Report: New Mommy Track Blends Work and Home.

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There is a mom in a pink sweater holding a cute-as-a-button child who is playing with her necklace (and who hopefully didn’t gag her mother with the necklace after the snapshot was taken). The bold headline over the mom’s shoulder: “The New Mommy Track: More Mothers are Finding Smart Ways to Blend Work and Family. How You Can, Too.” The word “New” is in pink. The last line encouraging us moms that we can do the smart blending thing if only we set our minds to it is highlighted in white.

 

Inside the September 3 issue of U.S. News & World Report are more adorable photos, including one where you can see a mom sitting at a keyboard only from the chest down, with her toddler son standing beside her, binky and bottle next to the keyboard. Later, we see that same mom one-handedly using the computer while cradling a baby in the other arm, her toddler son playing at a train table in the background. That photo is next to a larger one of the mom from the magazine cover making cookies with her daughter at the mom’s bakery.

 

The headlines, like the photos, offer wholesome, tantalizing promises. Over the main story, there’s this headline: “More mothers win flextime at work, and hubbies’ help (really!) at home.” Next is a brief piece: “The Age of the ‘Alpha Mom:’ A new wave of advertising is showing women in control.” That’s followed by another short article: “How Moms Get on Track: You’ll need to pick jobs carefully, pay dues, then negotiate.” The collection of U.S. News stories focuses on what the magazine describes as: “. . . [A] new generation of American mothers who are rejecting the ‘superwoman’ image from the 1980s as well as the ‘soccer mom’ stereotype from the 1990s. Mothers today are more likely to negotiate flexible schedules at work and demand fuller participation of fathers in child-raising than previous generations did, giving them more time to pursue their own careers and interests.”

 

However, like a wet blanket in this six-page spread of mommy-power goodness and can-do spirit is this enlarged quote, which also has some words highlighted in pink: “Only 3% of companies let most employees work part of the week at home sometimes.”

 

There.

 

There it is.

 

Therein lies the rub.

 

I’m not trying to sound like a negative Nelly. I like the “atta-girl” boost one gets from reading articles about triumphant women as much as the next gal. I adore seeing positive profiles of strong, female role models whose lives represent myriad work-life choices. I think it’s fantastic to highlight companies whose owners actually believe that if you stick by a woman employee through her childbearing years and the challenging-yet-fleeting period of early parenthood, she’ll likely reward you with loyalty and cut your turnover costs. And perhaps, by focusing on pro-family work arrangements, other business owners might be tempted to try out similar flextime arrangements with their employees.

SadiesMom
10.10.07

I thought about buying this magazine thinking that it might give me the answers I had been seeking. Of course, it's a great image and nowhere near any kind of reality. I love that MommyTrack'd exists to look at these stories in pop culture with a brain and really analyze what the media is telling us.

Karen Maezen Miller
09.08.07

The operative word here is that this is a "story." Stories like this are manufactured, photos are staged and stylized, sources are conscripted and selectively edited to drive the story to the intended, tidy conclusion. Facts sometimes get in the way. As in most news stories, the picture is one scarcely recognized by real people. This is the stuff of news product development, which confers what is up, down, in, out, hot, cold, new, different and therefore saleable. That is a long view and a cynical one. I just don't think we should expect that a completely arbitrary "trend" designation bears any resemblance to reality.

jackied
09.08.07

I agree with Pat that it's impossible to work with a baby in one arm and/or a toddler at your knee. Instead they should show this woman literally juggling the two kids and the computer and trying frantically not to let any of them come crashing down. Now THAT would be a better picture of my day. Still, I think it's good that this issue is becoming more mainstream and I do plan to read the articles in U.S. News.

Jackie
www.theselfemployedmom.com

Pat
09.08.07

I agree and I don't think I want to read the full article either. In my experience you certainly can't do a professional job if you're typing with a baby on your lap. Even when my kids were just a few months old, I needed them out of the room to concentrate. When they started walking and I was still working at home, I had to have the babysitter take them to the park or they would knock on my door all day long.

ExpectingExecutive
09.08.07

I completely agree and appreciate your review of this article. The only thing that I can appreciate about the definition and marketing of this "New Mommy Track" is that as it becomes a more accepted mainstream idea that this is what women desire in workforce options, employers should not be surprised and might be even modestly prepared to meet this "demand". We will see. I for one do not believe that "mommies and kids" will increase workforce flexibility. I believe you will see dramatic changes in flexible work options as our nation's baby boomers age and will require the caregiving of our nation's workforce. Just my opinion.

Glad I found MommyTrack'd. Love it!

Erin
www.ExpectingExecutive.com
Helping Busy Mothers Manage Life's Details

MidwesternMommy
09.05.07

I couldn't even read this article because I didn't want to get ticked off. Thanks for the thorough recap and good perspective.