I have been a faithful subscriber of Elle magazine for many years now. I find the journalistic quality to be higher than that of Glamour or Cosmo and yet the content isn’t as pretentious as that of Vogue. Plus I love drooling over all of the gorgeous fashion items that I could never afford and somehow never feel very bad about not being able to afford them.
In this month’s issue there is an article by Nancy Hass on working moms and just what, when, and where baby talk is appropriate in the workplace. I actually agree with the bulk of the article. It is inappropriate to talk on about your kids in certain situations and not everyone is interested. It’s important to feel out the audience before speaking. I don’t think that women should pretend not to be moms just because they’re at work. But above that, I have a problem with some of the author’s sentiments.
There is a paragraph that really didn’t sit well for me and which clarified for me the difference between the way I approach motherhood and the way some other women do.
But I have never once thought of her as the best thing I’ve ever done. Perhaps that’s a function of having had a better-than average work life, but it’s also because I’m loath to take credit for my daughter as an accomplishment. Reproducing, even for me, who had to go to such lengths to become a mother, doesn’t feel like a personal achievement; it’s just a natural part of the human cycle. That’s one of the reasons I love being a parent; it’s comfortingly prosaic, delightfully unremarkable. Can you imagine women in small Indian villages standing around the local well asking for reassurance from the others that having their brood of kids is “the best thing they’ve ever done”? It’s a ready-made caption for a New Yorker cartoon.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not think that birthing Brady is my greatest accomplishment. I don’t think that raising Brady is my greatest accomplishment. Honestly, one of the things that gets me down about parenting and makes me long for the office is the fact that I don’t often feel very accomplished at all. He’s a work in progress and what I do may or may not have a giant impact on the person he becomes.
But it makes me sad that she thinks parenthood is so ordinary. Just because lots of people do it does not make it “unremarkable”. I also do not think that women in small Indian villages think of having children as just another thing to do. I’m quite sure that many of them think of it as more amazing than we here in the built-up, commercialized, regulated, US of A do, In rural villages with little or no medical care it is very likely that giving birth to and raising a healthy child is less expected and that having children to help you is much more important.
Only women can give birth to children and I honestly do think it is something to be proud of. Just because we can now be CEOs and Construction Workers is no reason to designate bearing and raising children as plebeian or run of the mill.
I am proud of what I’m doing and what I’ve done – both in the workplace and at home. In a way this article is another piece of kindling on the fire of SAHM vs WOHM. The evil round and round fight that was sparked by women’s lib and continues to burn bright today.
This is getting away from my point – which is that we (women and men) should be proud of all that we do – whether it’s putting together the perfect presentation or getting our sons finally potty-trained at night. It all takes work and it all contributes to the rest of society. So let’s just embrace it all.