There’s been some good online debate the last week or so about a feminist blog in which the author stated she “looked down” on women with husbands and children because they (the married and parent women) were capable of doing so much more with their lives. It made me think of a time in my own life when I was insulted when a colleague told me “Oh you’ll understand when you have kids.”
I’ve since come to see that I was totally wrong for being insulted by that. And I think our feminist blogger will retract her looking down upon moms and wives comment some day, too, should she be lucky enough to get married and/or have a child.
But since she and society currently think the pursuit of careers is the ultimate use of a woman’s time, perhaps I’ll talk about family in a more familiar vernacular. Being a wife and mother is not only like being the COO of a company, its also like taking responsibility for almost every other major function in that business.
As the COO, you work with the CEO (the dad) to discuss and make all major decisions. At one time, you talked about more romantic things, like music, movies, travel, art, whatever. Now, its finances, budgets, home improvement, public or private school, dance or gymnastics, soccor or cheerleading, science project topics, buying a new laptop, cell phone plans, groceries, date night, babysitter rates, birthday parties, food choices, bed times, new cars, old cars, car maintenance, pharmacies, health care, life insurance, discipline, dogs, well you get the picture. There are a lot of meetings about things within the company. And no one brings the donuts.
As COO, your job includes: logistics, housekeeping, purchasing, invoicing, human resources including health care, employee relations, public relations, food service, accounts payable, it, utilities, facilities management and transportation, as well as other duties to be assigned. There are no assistants or worker bees to help, except perhaps in the housekeeping and facilities management areas with the help of bribes. There is no driver, cook, server, laundrette, fix-it man, computer geek, secretary, benefits manager, janitor, no one. Its all on you. You have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No earned vacation, no sick days. You are on call for all emergencies and a full night of sleep is never guaranteed.
Its difficult to know if you are making progress in your position at times, and there is no room to move up in the organization until you become a grandparent. Performance evaluations are given on the fly when the urge hits, and often sound like this: “I hate you!,” “Where’s my (fill in the blank?,” “Did you throw away my (fill in)?,” Slam, crash.
But, amazing things happen. One of those “blobs of tissue” comes home from school with a clean face, clean shirt and A’s on the report card. Even better, another one of those annoying children tells you “Your the best mom ever. I love you.” Its like the owner of the company (that guy in the long white robes) telling you profits increased beacuse YOU did something.
And so you get up another morning, and you shout like a drill sargeant, make the lunches, make the breakfast, inquire about shoes, socks, homework and toothbrushes. You herd dogs and kids and cats into the car and drive them to school beacuse you no longer trust the bus company after they forgot to drop your kids off once. You write checks for fundraisers, make treats for birthdays, remember the names of every kid in two classes, chaperone play dates, schedule sleepovers, read Harry Potter books aloud and watch the Polar Express in July.
Then, after a few years, you see it. Beautiful minds bursting from behind beautiful faces. A cheerleader. A soccer goalie. A scientist. An orator. A giving and caring human being. Not an easy task for anyone in a world where Miley Cyrus passes for a musician and twerking is performance art. Where they’re told they can’t discuss God in school, or be kind to someone without a punishment, Where we legalize drugs because we can’t police them.
So, my feminist friend, not only does buiilding a family and raising children allow you to hone your own business skills, its probably one of the hardest, most perplexing, dynamic jobs there is. In the end, your product or products are decent himan beings to carry on the world, and avoid the mistakes of people who “look down” on other people.