I'm writing this because I often complain about and worry about my new line of work / not work. I feel like I'm missing out on real life by not punching a clock. That I've perhaps sacrificed my career and will never get it back. I want to remind myself that even if I don't get it back, I haven't been wasting my time here. If anything, I've become a better worker, not a worse one.
It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyways. Being a working mother is a never ending balancing act. My children have always had a politician for a mom; I was elected to Toronto's city council before they were born. My chosen career -- and my choice to run for Mayor -- means that my life is, to a certain degree, public.
Growing up in the 50's and 60's, my mother Lillian was primarily a "stay-at-home"mother. It's not that she didn't have high aspirations for her future, as she dreamed of being a dancer. However, times required she go to work directly after graduating high school as a bookkeeper for a dress manufacturer, her professional dancing dreams dashed.
When did the term "working mom" come into the popular vernacular? I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why any woman with a job and children would describe herself as a working mom. My husband is a wonderful father, and great business leader, however, he does not refer to himself as a working dad. In fact, I don't know one man who works while raising a family and calls himself a working dad. So why do we?
I know that you seldom have a hot cup of coffee or tea. I know that your attention is always divided, often diverted from a moment to moment basis, and you cannot ever count on completing a task in the one go. I know that you probably don't get any down time when you're on your own at home, unless you have a single child who still naps in the daytime. I know the challenges you deal with daily, usually with no peer support or backup. The toddler tantrums, the toilet training accidents, the food battles, the food on the floor, the crayons on the wall, the sibling rivalry, the baby that never seems to stop crying.
Women have been brought up to believe that they have the right to pursue their own goals and dreams without any consideration for those around them. As a result, we have women having babies who almost immediately hand the child off to a daycare worker or nanny so that they can return to the office in order to feel fulfilled.
My kids are the worst eaters. Really. Some people say this, and mean that their kids don't eat raw sushi, or whole wheat pasta, or offal. That's not what I mean. I mean that in my house, bacon is a food group. I mean that my kids don't eat pasta, period. I mean that they only accept pepperoni pizza from one delivery joint. It's serious.
I am unemployed again. I'm scared we won't be able to pay the bills. I'm scared that we have set up a life that there is no way we can afford without a second salary, and a decent one at that. I'm scared that I am doing my son a disservice by pulling him from daycare to stay home with me, a mom who loves him dearly but prefers to not be a stay-at-home mom...
I'm a list maker. In fact I love making lists. But as time and luck would have it my computer crashed two days before we left on vacation and I couldn't access any of my packing lists. Later when the absence of water shoes resulted in a clam shell injury to one of my daughters' feet, we realized that the first aid kit, newly loaded with all sorts of band-aids, ointments and first-aidy stuff, was left sitting on the kitchen counter.
I do not want to pit one mother against another. But, I am tired of the lack of respect we show to moms who choose to stay home and raise their children, prepare their meals, and attempt to make their homes a sacred place for their family. I have no doubt that these women rarely think of their work as sacred. But it is.
When does being a housewife become too high risk? Shouldn't we as women be able to head out into the workforce if all of a sudden we're the sole financial provider? As someone who lives in one of the most expensive cities in the world, I can't get my head around how women can walk away from their careers without a worry in the world. Isn't it irresponsible?
Have you seen my purse? It can house a small animal, a bucket of make-up, an e-reader, a lunch packed in Tupperware, an iPhone, mints, credit cards, travel coffee mug, keys, Scotch tape, small scissors and, of course, an extra pair of shoes. Have I learned to be this way? Nature vs. nurture, which is it?
Women in the U.S. are offered zero paid maternity leave, and they're practically the only ones. More women are going to school and joining the workforce but then -- boom! -- babies. And yes, while more and more Americans are working from home, there is little hope that a single shift will alleviate a working mother's workload. The shift needs to be one of national legislative proportions.