We know it’s a problem. We must. I see it all around me from friends’ Facebook updates to traditional media stories to my own life. Just this morning I grabbed the latest Newsweek to hit the highlights in two minutes or less and found Lisa Miller’s article “Mommy is Busy Right Now.”
Darn right she’s busy.
The lifestyle of the modern mom has even made it into children’s cartoons. I smile knowingly every time I see Olivia’s mom sitting at her desk in her home, her phone headset over her little piggy ears, her baby playing on the floor at her feet.
Working mothers are nothing new. And they’re also not the minority. According to Newsweek, 77 percent of moms of school-aged children work. Read that sentence one more time because it includes all of those moms that you don’t think about as being employed. For example, I easily work thirty hours a week, but I do it during the 16 hours a week that both of my kids are out of the house, during the thirty minutes when they watch a show in the afternoon, during the thirty minutes when their father is getting them ready for bed, after bed, on the weekends, in the wee hours of the morning. I have now managed to match my husband’s full time white collar salary in the nooks and crannies of time in my life as a stay-at-home mom. And yes, that sentence is worth reading again as well.
The modern working mom does not drop her children off at daycare at 8:00 and pick them up at 5:00. She juggles work and life 24/7.
The problem is apparent to me in fits and bursts, such as the three consecutive snow days that left me juggling client calls and work load while my husband went to work in his quiet, kid free office. Or when I travel to paid speaking gigs and my airport related Facebook updates elicit responses from friends asking what happens to the kids while I’m gone. One of these days I’m going to answer, “The neighbors let them out to pee twice a day and I just fill their food bowls REALLY full right before I leave.” My husband is about to leave the country for three weeks. THREE WEEKS. I promise that not one person will ask who is going to give the kids a bath every night or pack their lunches each morning even though those are his parenting jobs. Not one.
And the juggling goes so far beyond the logistics of parenting and working. “Mommy is Busy Right Now” highlights the essentially extinct service industry that has tossed into the laps of moms everywhere the roles of insurance expert, personal banker, travel agent, and more. The years of battling the medical industry since the premature birth of my daughter have left me longing for mud packs, leeches, and witch doctors, and my run in with a huge and apparently poorly run bank earlier this month had me this close to installing a vault in my basement and calling it a day. Just yesterday I prepared for mole patrol by showering twice and shaving as though preparing to walk the Miss America runway in my pageant bikini only to have the incredibly highly esteemed dermatologist glance at about 65% of my body quickly, tell me to have my husband keep an eye on my back half and keep an eye on the front half myself. It was my job to know if I had melanoma. Awesome. Because I needed another job. And my daughter’s dentist? Well, a year ago I was told she needed to see an orthodontist immediately, six months ago I was told she wouldn’t need to see an orthodontist for a couple more years, and then last week I was told that she needed to see the orthodontist immediately. Time to head to Dr. Google to figure out who is right…
Paying the bills.
Refinancing the house.
So moms, tell me. When do you take a break?