I think there’s some kind of implied apology in the term “Working Mom.” Like, it’s not properly maternal of us to admit that we’re working women without mentioning that we’re also mommies. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t recall hearing much about the “Working Dad.” And yet, working moms seem to be an eternal topic of discussion and scrutiny.
I’m kind of new to the whole idea of being a Working Mom. It’s not that I’m new to being an actual working mom. I have always been a working person, and it just so happens that I have children. I am the primary wage-earner in my house, and I tend to define myself more by the stuff I do, rather than by the fact that my husband and I have a couple of kids. I was not, as Leslie Morgan Steiner said at the recent Mommy Track’d/Flexperience Working Mother’s forum, “born the day my child was born.” Because that sort of implies that everything I did before having children was less worthy, somehow, than the fact that I Have Given Birth. But to each his own, we all get to define ourselves however we want.
But enough about us. No, really. I’m serious. Because whether you are a working mommy or a stay-at-home mommy, we all have one area of common ground: there has been more material written about, for, and by us than ever before in the entire history of the world. In blogs across the nation, many mommies give the impression that giving birth and raising a child is an experience no one has ever gone through quite the same way, ever before. Mommies these days are apparently more conflicted, more pressed for time, more torn in a million directions, more thoughtful, caring, nurturing, ambivalent, involved, sleep-deprived, guilty, over-scheduled -- and clearly -- more obsessed with being Mommies than ever before.
The cult of Mommy seems to be growing unabated. Being a mommy has become a fetish, and it’s making me irritable. Look, I don’t mean to bite the hand that feeds me. I think the wide variety of parenting-advice books and columns now available -- as well as online forums such as Mommy Track’d -- all provide necessary resources for women (and some men) who are juggling parenthood and work, or who need answers to various parenting dilemmas. Having more resources and information is nothing but a wonderful bit of progress. But at what point will we reach saturation with the seemingly endless stream of Mommy Blogs, “Mommy Lit,” motherhood memoirs, (adorably referred to as “Momoirs,” a coinage that might compel me to bang my head repeatedly against the sharp, unprotected edge of a cold martini shaker) and other Mommy-themed books about some Mommy’s Unique Experience being a Mommy?
But, wait one darn minute, you say, a little snippily (and who can blame you?), “I’m supposed to read your parenting book? Where you tell me to stop doing so much parenting? You wrote two books on the subject, and now you’re telling me to put a sock in it?” Well, kind of, yes. I mean, I just think the mommies need to declare a tiny moratorium on talking about our inimitable Mommy Experience, for a few days, maybe. It’s not that all the books and blogs aren’t often entertaining and endearing and well written, it’s just, well, do we really need yet another tome about how crazy, yet wondrous motherhood is? Maybe we do. Maybe we need a blow-by-blow account from every mommy in the world, so that we all can compare and contrast our “unique” mommy condition. And then move on. Perhaps learn how to sail, or travel the
As you may have gathered if you’ve read either The Three-Martini Playdate and/or The Three-Martini Family Vacation, (yet more shameless plugging!) I don’t believe that the sun rises and sets on my children. Being a mommy does not consume every fiber of my being. Okay, fine, I’d probably throw myself in front of a bus for them; but I’d much prefer to teach them to not run in front of buses in the first place, because buses are for riding, so that mommy doesn’t have to drive you everywhere, and can get some work done, or perhaps, curl up with a good book. My children are in my life, but they are not the center of it. I believe they need to learn that they are not the center of any universe, a tough lesson for any naturally self-centered being.
I know we’re Mommies and Daddies, entrusted with a special blah blah blah, but do we have to be Mommies and Daddies every second of every day? Of course, yes, literally, we are, and have to be. Duh. But do we have to give our entire lives over to these little people, and then talk about it, analyze it, write about it, and opine about it eternally? Oh, but oops, I’m supposed to write a parenting piece for the good people at Mommy Track’d, and here I am basically saying I am over this whole writing about parenting thing. Okay, I’m full of contradictions and possibly shooting myself in the foot. But the point is, I think every Mommy would benefit from finding a hobby other than her children. I think each one of us can be an inspiration to our children, a shining example of a well-rounded, interesting person who has a million fascinating things to talk about other than the intricate job we’ve got of raising them. So, read any good books lately?