Posted by Bronwyn W.
I recently read a blog written by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski called ‘Don’t Forget to Have Kids, Part 1 & 2’ that left me feeling angry. I am a full-time working mom and I love my son more than anything. I just try not to make assumptions about everyone else’s motivations.
Basically Mika was extolling the virtues of having a successful career and being a mother. She talked about how hard she worked, but how fulfilling it was. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Then she had to go into her dismay at seeing all the young women at her office in their 20s who are only pursuing their careers and not even thinking of getting married and having kids.
I realize she probably meant this as a sort of cheerleading success story–that if you work hard, you really can have it all. She wrote that getting a corner office was never as important to her as her husband and children. I can relate to that, and I think most working mothers would say the same thing.
What really burned me about her outlook was her assumption that all those women were unpartnered and/or childless simply because they had chosen the career track and thought they would wait around until their 30s or even 40s to have kids. Coming from someone with Mika’s wealthy background and built-in media and political connections it just sounded pretty out of touch.
I am not saying that she didn’t do the work to get to the job she has today. But a lot of women work just as hard and because they do not have the advantages she had going into the game, they have no choice but to devote themselves to work just to make ends meet for themselves, let alone for any children they might want to have. One might say they are being responsible by not having children until they are certain they can provide a secure and stable life for them.
It isn’t that I believe that all the 20-something women I know are dying to spawn, either. I know many women who do not have kids. Some just because it worked out that way and some who have chosen, for whatever personal reason, not to.
Even if ‘being a mommy is the greatest gift any woman can receive’ as Mika states–where does that leave women who cannot conceive? Or can’t afford a baby? Or whose boyfriends or husbands are just jerks? Do they have to go through life being unfulfilled and undeserving of this ‘greatest gift’? It seems a little harsh to me. Having a baby is perhaps the most personal decision a woman ever makes and who am I (or Mika) to question why someone chooses what they do?
I think everyone wants to be loved for themselves. But let’s face it, when you are out there in the pond, no matter what sort of prince or princess you are looking for, most of us run into far more toads in life. Sometimes Mr. or Ms. Right comes along in your 20s–and sometimes not until later, and sadly for some, sometimes never. It’s rude to assume that the reason you didn’t find Mr. Right was simply because you were too focused on your quarter-end spread sheet to do so.
The playing field is not level for all women and many women are not necessarily where they are by choice.
Mika talks about how she leaves her office and is saddened by all the women staying late alone, working at their desks in the newsroom as she rushes back to her husband and children. “After all,” she quips smugly, “Homework waits for no one!”
I wonder how many of the researchers and secretaries still sitting at their desks might have children at home doing homework as well? They just don’t have a Town Car waiting to whisk them away to help with it or the luxury of leaving.
Women should be able to have a successful career and have happy, healthy families as well, if that is what they want. But until women in this country receive more support, child care and equal pay for equal work, it seems pretty unfair for Mika to look down from her pinnacle of success and give them judgmental advice about it.