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My guilt and angst at screwing up the world

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published July 17, 20007, thehive.modbee.com

Woke up in a great mood this morning. The sun was shining, but not too much. The kids were 90 percent less grumpy than I expected considering they’d stayed up too late the night before. I didn’t screw up the coffee and made it out the door on time.

But then The Associated Press told me I had it all wrong.

In a story about the latest round in “Mommy Wars”, AP recapped the alleged conflagration so far: “There’s spirited talk, angst, and some guilt from mothers who fear they’re doing the wrong thing.

“Now the guilt seems actually tangible.”

Oooooh. Ominous.

I rifled through my purse for some angst but couldn’t find any. Dang it. I know I put it on the grocery list last week. Dad must have forgotten to pick it up.

I read on to try to determine the cause for AP’s consternation:

“Fully 60 percent of working mothers now say part-time work is their ideal rather than full-time, compared to 48 percent a decade ago.”

Holy barefoot and pregnant, Batman! There are people who would rather not work full-time?

In other stunning developments, the sun rose in the East.

Here’s a news flash for AP: Many people I know would rather not work full-time. Most would prefer to hit the big one and never look back. I know I could get into a few years of lounging with a Tom Clancy novel in some exotic locale, while the guys frolic on the beach and a cabana boy feeds me peeled grapes.

I bet if the Pew Research Center, which did the study, polled on that question, they’d find that fully 60 percent of working moms and dads now say winning the lottery is their ideal.

The AP story goes on to trot out various “mompreneurs” who testify that their former work-parenting lives were killing them, so they punched out to start their own business. As an aside, why do we have to have a cutesy name when it’s women starting a business?

Now, there’s another fantasy. Sing a chorus of “Take This Job and Shove It” and go off on your own gig.

Another news flash: Unless you’re born with the brain of Bill Gates or the bank roll of a Rockefeller, the odds are against that happening. And even if it does, you’re going to be stunned in a few years when you realize you’re putting in as many hours as when you worked for someone else.

At least AP didn’t dwell on the most ridiculous part of the study:

“A 44% plurality of at-home moms consider the increase in working mothers bad for society while about half as many (22%) say it is good for society and the remainder take a neutral position (31%). By contrast, working moms are split almost evenly between positive (34%), negative (34%), and neutral (31%) views of how this trend is affecting society.”

Here’s the kicker on that: The margin of error for the part of the report that looked at just stay-at-home moms is plus or minus 11 percentage points. Which means that maybe as few as 33 percent of stay-at-home moms believe I’m warping the world, while as many 33 percent could be saying “You go, girl!”

In other worlds, their results are a statistical dead heat.

It doesn’t matter anyway. Guilt-ridden women aren’t going to drop out of the work force en masse, no matter how many polls proclaim us the Wicked Witch of the West. It just irks me that we continually have to poll to pass judgment on other people’s choices.

And that’s assuming that working full-time is a choice. In many cases it’s not.

For the record, I have felt not one second’s angst since the day Big Guy started day care. Bone-dead exhaustion, maybe, but not guilt.

This is my life. Most days, on balance, I do OK. I’d be a little more OK if the cleaning fairies would stop in once in a while, but I muddle through without them.

And on the days I stumble, I blame it on Dad. If only he’d remembered that angst at the grocery store, I’d have the sense to feel as awful about myself all the time as the Pew Center tells me I should.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Leslie said:

    “If I could have been a Mom, I would have wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom…but I am so tired of all the ills of the world being blamed on working Moms. I was raised by a Mom who worked outside the home long before it was fashionable…and I am only slightly crazy….most days.”

  • Debra said:

    “There are times, honestly, when I want to be a stay-at-home mom. OK, so I sort of am right now, but that’s different, because I’m actually working harder now at doing the same work than I was when I was drawing a paycheck, because I have to squeeze it into smaller windows of time.

    And, while it’s nice to not have to get adult-world dressed (it’s been 10 days since I’ve worn make-up. YES!) I do miss having intelligent conversations with people over three and a half fet tall.

    At any rate, I don’t know why we can’t just respect people’s choices for their own lives and let it go.”