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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Working Moms graph How many times a year do I do this? I’ve lost count.

Bright and early, I march to the second-floor closet and vow that this is the day I will cull the boxes of family memories piled to the ceiling. I yank the door open and sigh with disgust: What a mess. I pull out a box, sit on the bed and push up my sleeves.

A half-hour later, I’m up to my elbows in my kids’ childhoods. Resolve evaporated. Tears guaranteed by noon.

“Next month,” I say, and I shut the door.

Earlier this week, I tried yet again. This time, I got as far as the bottom of the pretty cloth-covered box, where a pile of yellow and white sticky notes were holding on to one another as if for survival. Slowly, I peeled and started reading the two dozen notes my 7-year-old daughter left for me around the house in 1994.

Most of them read, “I love you.” But there were occasional attempts at humor, too. “Your hair looks fine,” read one that was stuck to the bathroom mirror. On her note wrapped around my deodorant: “Excusisme, but your arm pits spell good.”

At the very bottom, I found the note she’d pressed on my computer screen one night before going to bed: “You write to much.”
Translation: You work too much.

I was a single mother at the time, and a newspaper reporter. If I don’t work, we don’t eat. That’s what I told myself every time I felt guilty, which was pretty much every day. It took years for me to understand that it was OK to love what I do for a living — and to communicate that to my daughter, too.

On that night, her note was my heartache. Now I look back and feel sorry for both of us, the daughter who deserved more and the mother who was afraid of losing everything.

Voltaire said God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. I’d add, if you don’t laugh at the first joke, God tries again. The morning after I unearthed that pile of my daughter’s notes, I woke up to an NPR report about the latest Pew Research Center study on working women. Something about how more mothers are primary providers and the public is “conflicted” about this.

Real knee-slapper, that one. Few things get my adrenaline pumping faster than this notion of working mothers and their disapproving public.

  • Riobound

    It’s all smoke and mirrors on the “Fantasy Island” of the GOP. They don’t do anything for the American people by passing a job initiative and then they whine about women having to work.

    • RobertCHastings

      Unfortunately, it is EXACTLY about women having to work. As Connie says, many single moms simply don’t have the choice, even though they put themselves on that guilt trip pretty much everyday. However, it is those women who earn more than their spouses and are the primary earners who seem to bring up several issues. There is still a glass ceiling. Women DO still have children and must take maternity leave. And the real kicker is that, finally, women ARE getting better jobs and earning more than their husbands, and many dads prefer the inestimable pleasures of staying home to raise the kids. More women are getting into college; more women are getting graduate and professional degrees. But the benefits of big salaries accrue only to those that are in the upper tier, while millions of moms work in a two parent family because they HAVE to make ends meet. The middle class of the idyllic suburban America of the 50s in which Mrs. Cleaver stayed home to raise the kids, and father always knew best, no longer exists, because the wages simply aren’t there to support that image any longer. When the boys came home from WWII, a nest egg of 10 – 12 thousand dollars could buy a house and a car, and represented only about three years of wages. Today, in order to buy a house and a car it takes a little more than just three years of wages.

  • Irishgrammy

    As ever Connie you have read my mind, guilt trip indeed! I watched the Lou Dobbs Neanderthals group decry the Pew study with appalling outrage and panic at the increase in working women and oh my goodness some lucky women actually earning more than their husbands……The Republicans both in congress and in state legislatures are doing everything they can to eliminate any help at all for poor and working poor women, foodstamps, Planned Parenthood, etc…. I guess those boot straps the Republicans want everyone to pull on just don’t work for so many when your boots are to small or worn out and “feed those kids on that $7.25 and hour” somehow, someway magically……………

    • RobertCHastings

      wax poetically

  • howa4x

    This is where the religious right rears it’s ugly head. For years they preached that women have to be subservient to their man. Pat Robertson just said it recently on the 700 club. So women going to work or women showing any type of independence is in direct conflict with their philosophy. This is also about punishment of women who made a sexual mistake and had children by ether having a failed marriage or where single, didn’t have an abortion and raised the kids. They can’t all get married to Warren Jeffers, I think 28 is enough. So instead of valuing these people who didn’t shirk their social responsibility people who worked while raising families, and sacrificed everything in a spiritual sort of way, the keeper of religion on the right slander them. That says more about them than the millions of women we all should hold up as role models.

  • Working mothers put your guilt away, when you tell your daughters they must be stay at home moms, you are doing a disservice to them and our grandchildren. It would be better for everyone if we just told them to find thier own way. I had a thriving career going before I married and continued to work after I married. We both thought it best if I was a stay at home mom, so when my son was born I tried. It was awful. My husband didn’t earn enough to support even our modest lifestyle. We had to sell one of the cars to pay the bills, then I was trapped in the house all the time. Finally I got a low paying part time job just so I could get out of the house that would also help pay the bills. When my youngest was 15 months old I got a full time job in my field and life improved immediately. When my kids were growing up I explained to them that I went back to work out of necessity, but make no mistake, I loved what I did and was proud of my accomplishments. Turns out they were proud of my accomplishments too and thought it was way cool to have a chemist for a mother. I also told them I was not like every other mother around and they liked that too.

    • demhack

      yea the working mothers kids end up on welfare and have their own kids when they are14