The world is in a phase of social deconstruction.  Relative to the entire timeline of humanity it’s pretty new, but relative to our lifetimes this evolution has been happening for generations.  We’re deconstructing our world views, gender views, nationalist views, racial views.  Everything.  It’s healthy and it’s painful and it’s disruptive.

We’re in an interesting place right now because we’re still ripping up the old systems and we really haven’t yet established new ones.  It’s painful to acknowledge that the old, flawed systems, some of them, served necessary functions for society.  Today we’re talking about working moms, so let’s look at that.

Division of labor in the home seems oppressive now, but from an evolutionary standpoint it was a smart survival technique.  Humans were not always able to leverage technology in order to get necessary work done and most men are biologically more equipped for hard manual labor.

Leaving someone at home to protect and care for progeny while another hunted, scavenged, farmed, fought, etc. helped our species continue.  This is not an inherently oppressive system.  It makes sense.  And is in fact exactly what we do in the modern corporate world.  You hire people who have specific specialties and divvy up tasks based on individual strengths.

However, you don’t need me to tell you that due to human nature this system was made oppressive for all kinds of reasons like ego, religion, etc etc.  And in many societies, for a very long time, men became “superior” and women “inferior”.  Men – owners, women – property.  This played out in all kinds of ways and now here we are in 2016 ripping that kind of thinking out of our societies.

Women are refusing to be made to feel inferior.  It’s liberating and it’s empowering and it’s exhausting.

Yup.  There it is.  It’s EXHAUSTING.  Because we haven’t figured out a support system for this new way to be.  We’re literally figuring out how to make this work every. step. of. the. way.

The argument is playing out across the internet:

“You can have it all!”

“We can’t possibly have it all!”

And the real truth is, we don’t know.  We know that one person can only do so much and being a mother, a wife, an employee, and a person isn’t possible without support or superpowers.

For now, if we can afford it, we pay for support.  Or if we’re lucky enough to have family for support, then we have that.  But it’s still not ideal, the costs of childcare are astronomical and in America our screening for caregivers is often not up to parent’s standards. Employers are largely puzzled by how to handle all things relating to maternal employees.

Here’s what I hear over and over again from other moms though, “I hope that things will be different by the time our daughters are mothers.”

That’s where we have to focus.  When we advocate for a better social structure that benefits mothers, we aren’t really advocating for ourselves.  By the time any meaningful change happens I likely will not be having children.  But my daughter may.  Your son might.

Just like prior generations were advocates for a change that tore apart what was detrimental, we have to advocate for building up something that is beneficial.

Working moms – we’re social pioneers.  Let’s get to work building something better for the next generation of parents.

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One thought on “Working Moms: Social Pioneers

  1. I loved this post! I totally agree with everything you said here. And, I also really appreciate your optimism, positivity, and open-mindedness on the subject! You have such a healthy and tolerant view on all of this! I wish I could stay as reasonable as you do when talking about the subject of working moms, but the reality is, I often get far too fired up about the issue.

    Personally, I hope to have children some day. I also happen to (already) have a career that I absolutely love. And so, I am one of those women who is hoping to “have it all”. In fact, I’m determined to have it all. Men have had it all forever, so why can’t I? Right? Well….sort of….I guess in reality many of these men I’m referring to have ‘had it all’ at the expense of others, and that’s not how I like to do things.

    However, what I’m finding more and more as I date during my late 20s is this: all of the men I meet expect to eventually have children but are not planning to put in 50% of the work needed to raise them. They are all expecting their future wives to be the primary, if not sole, caretakers of their children.

    The amazing part of this is that none of these men has ever asked themselves the question “can I have it all?” It’s literally not a question for them. It’s a fact of life. They can have it all. And not only that, they will have it all.

    And of course, I have nothing against couples where the husband works and the wife stays home with the kids. Or couples where the wife works and the husband stays home with the kids. Sometimes it just makes better economic sense, with the astronomical costs of daycare and the time-commitment of chauffeuring all the kids around, for one parent to stay home.

    But all of the relationships I’ve had with men who see their future wife staying home with the kids leave me wondering: Are all men just looking for someone who they think will be a good mother? I’m certainly not looking for a provider in a husband. Am I in the minority? Will I ever meet a man who is not looking for this one version of ‘happily ever after’ that I have no interest in? I sure hope so!

    So here is my big ask to everyone: Please, for the sake of all of us women hoping to have it all, expose your children to ALL types of family structures. Exposure is so important. Let them sleepover their friends’ houses all the time! Let them eat dinner with their friends’ families and go on vacation with friends’ families. Take these opportunities whenever they arise!! This is your chance to expose your children to something different than you can offer them. Let them see that there are all different ways to run a household and all of them work! They all have different pros and cons. Talk to your children about these differences! Always make sure to teach them that there is more than one “right way”. This is so so important–whether it’s about the way you set the dinner table, the way you talk, the way you dress, or the way you run your household. But let’s get rid of this pattern where children look to run their own family exactly the way they were raised! Otherwise working moms don’t have a chance.

    Like

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