Monday, September 8, 2008

Working and parenting

If you have been watching the news lately, this has been a hot topic lately, because of Sarah Palin's nomination as VP for the GOP.

First, let me say this blog is not about politics. I don't agree with Palin's viewpoints, and this has nothing to do with her qualifications to be a potential VP.

I am, however, a working mother like her. I juggle a career and motherhood the same way she does. Since her nomination, I have heard (in several TV newscasts) reporters questioning whether she would be able to perform as a VP, not because of her experience but because she is a MOTHER.

As if the simple fact she has kids makes her less qualified to perform a job. Like I said, I'm not one of her fans and you won't hear me sing her praises or pledging my support. But I do think it's unfair to assume that because she is a mother, she is incapable of doing a good job, regardless of what that job may be.

As a working mother, I have had to endure my share of comments from people "oh, I'm so SORRY you have to work", or "you must have no time to do X, Y, Z with the kids".
Or they'll make comments about my kids being cared for by other people, or about me loving my career more than my children.

Most of the time, these comments are ignored because I know what's true, and because I don't feel these people deserve an explanation as to the reason for my choices.

Now that a working mother has been put in the spotlight, the same old question has come up again, can a woman have it all? Has anyone questioned whether a man can be a good father and also the President of this country? Does anyone ever question whether a man can have it all, a happy family and a good career?

Being a working mother is not easy, it is a juggling act. We struggle to be the best mothers, best wives, and still have a successful career. Our cars are overrun by toys, books, backpacks, and empty juice boxes. So are our houses. There are toys in the kitchen, and cups in the bedrooms. There are piles of laundry waiting to be done, and piles of clothes waiting to be folded. Most of the time, we hope people will call ahead before visiting so we can at least pick up some of the mess. There are crayon markings on our walls, and fingerprints on the windows, and probably cheerios under the cushions of the sofa.

Make no mistake, we are not lazy. Our houses are not a wreck because we can't handle a career and a home. They are a mess, at least mine is, because we CHOOSE to spend our free time with our kids. We rather snuggle under a blanket and watch Mary Poppins for the 1000th time than clean the house, or do the laundry. We rather go to soccer games, or dance practice, or listen to our kids practice their piano lessons, than stress over how our house may look if someone shows up.

What kind of mothers we are have nothing to do with what we do for a living. I have known mothers who stay home and spend no time with their kids (and will admit so). The kids are in front of the TV while they are preoccupied with keeping up with the Joneses. I have met other moms who make me want to stay home and imitate them. I have met working mothers who make it look easy, and who will be happy to give you the number to their cleaning ladies.

I don't believe my qualifications as an engineer depend on whether or not I have a family, the same way I don't think Sarah Palin's depend on her having one. We must stop putting working mothers down, or making them feel as if they don't love their kids enough. There are many of us who work because we have to and not because we want to. There are many of us who chose to work because we feel we can make a difference in this world, and want our kids to believe they, too, can have it all.Even if having it all means having a house in disarray.

I am proud of being a working mother. One day, my daughter will have to make her own decision, and my sons will be able to support their wives in their decisions, and I hope it will be because I set a good example. Whatever those decisions are, I hope they understand they too can have it all.