The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Rant #2 (the one with the gratuitous hyphens and asides)

Okay, rant two. Deep breath . . .

Childless (and usually unmarried) women who treat stay-at-home moms as second-class citizens (wow, that was a lot of hyphens).

As the one person who actually reads my blog, you know full well I am a) a mom and b) have a job. There is one single, solitary reason I am not a stay-at-home mom: I couldn't cut it; it was too hard.

Let me say that one more time, slowly for those of you who think staying at home is all mojitos and bon bons:


Yes, too hard to stay at home. Too hard to cater to the needs of a tiny person 24/7.

You see, at my job, I get to hang out with grown-ups who don't expect me to wipe their asses, make their food, and basically be their one-woman entertainment. I don't have to intellectually stimulate my colleagues to bolster their (hopefully) growing vocabulary. And I can not talk to them if I feel like it. In fact, I can take an hour break to go to the gym or have a beer. No one calls CPS on me or cries incessantly when I leave their sight. And no one ever follows me to the bathroom and bangs and sobs at the door until I come back out. Further, when my colleagues have to go to the bathroom, I don't have to drop everything to make sure they don't wet the floor or crap their pants. My colleagues don't require me to put them into a five-point harness everytime I go somewhere with them in the car. And I don't have to deal with undoing and redoing said harness to run what should have been a 15-minute stop at the grocery store and turned into 45 minutes of hell. I don't have to carry my colleagues when they are tired. I don't pick up their messes. I don't have to watch my language.

What I get to do is tell jokes that are intelligently laughed at (if there is such a thing. Hey, it sounds good). I get to discuss philosophy and politics (okay, okay, those who know me (and don't read this blog) know I don't ever talk about politics. ever.). I can listen to non-Raffi music. I get to watch funny videos on youtube and share them with my colleagues. I get to talk about frustrations in my research and have someone actually listen and offer more than senseless gibberish. I get time to myself everyday.

In other words, everyday, no matter how frustrated I get with my research, I get a break from the relentless day of a mother and spouse. (Quick disclaimer: I have life ridiculously easy and fully acknowledge that fact. I have a kid who is seriously amazing. Some women are not so lucky.)

And that is the exact word that describes what being a mother is like: relentless. Yes, fulfilling falls in there sometimes, joy, love, oh amazing-being-that-sprang-from-my-loins, etc . . . but really, unless a woman is either insane or lying her big-fat-mom-ass off, kids relentlessly suck the very life out of you.

Those hater childless women (and in no way am I implying that they are barren. I am just saying they don't have kids . . . yet. I wish a dozen kids on each of these women. A baker's dozen.) do women everywhere a disservice with their scorn. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ann Crittenden has written an amazing book on this very issue, The Price of Motherhood (she was inspired to write this book when someone asked her if she "used" to be Ann Crittenden after she paused her amazing career to raise a child). I recommend that every woman in Western culture read it. It is dense and hard, but this book nicely lays out the prejudice this society has for women who take the time to raise full-time our most valuable asset.

And those she-haters perpetuate this prejudiced system. They contribute to the inequality shown to many talented, educated, and successful women because these she-haters don't have the capability to see that in a few years, they may very well be in the same place (or maybe they are jealous, but that's a whole other blog). They don't see that when women question the worth of other women (who are performing a valuable service) that we are undermining what has taken hundreds of years to achieve: the ability to participate and be valued in a man's world.

Raising kids, running a household, is much much more than making sandwiches and watching Oprah (and I am not saying that no stay-at-home women don't do either of these activities; however, I know far more college and post-college educated women as well as women who have left lucrative careers to raise children and partner with a spouse's difficult job that work very very hard at what they do than I know slacker moms). These she-haters need to borrow a child for 24 hours to realize exactly how difficult it can be. I guarantee they will crumble after 15 minutes.

With spouses and kids there are no breaks. You don't get to leave them at the office and have a blow-out weekend. You don't get two-week's vacation a year. Kids don't care if you are hung over. Hell, they don't care if you have an important research meeting when they choose to sport a 103F fever.

So the next time you she-haters while tending to only your single, solitary needs get to leave work after an albeit hard day, party all night to make up for said day, and sleep it off until whenever, think of those who haven't had a good adult conversation in months or years, aren't able to leave the house without paying exorbitant amounts of money for a sitter, and will wake up at 530am whether they want to or not. These women are the true heroines of our sex.

So don't hate. Celebrate.

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