I was up early on Sunday…

Posted on | November 30, 2010 | 9 Comments

So I watched this program Sunday morning on PBS. I don’t know what it was called. I don’t really remember much about it except that it was a panel of women discussing topics that relate to women. Chime in if you know what show it was because I totally thought it was awesome.

The reason I bring it up is that they had a piece on women in the workplace. Did you know there is an entire organization devoted to working mothers? Seriously. Again, I can’t remember what it’s called… because I am a working woman and my brain is occupied with, well, working mom stuff. But the point of the piece was that they were trying to determine why so many women were dissatisfied with their jobs. The woman doing the pre-recorded piece basically said that women’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction was merely a product of their own attitude.

(Sidenote: I looked, the show is To the Contrary… it was really interesting, you know, if you’re up at 6:30 on a Sunday and the organization is Working Mothers Media… parent organization for Working Mother Magazine, which, lets face it… is an awesome idea.)

I found this interesting on so many levels.

On the one hand, I wanted to run out and slap her and say “No, it is NOT my attitude that needs adjusting, it is my EMPLOYER’S attitude that needs the fixer-upper-ness.” And then on the other hand I thought maybe she was on to something. Maybe I have difficulty balancing my work-work and my home-work because I don’t want to balance it effectively. Ms. Evans of Working Mothers Media seems to believe that much of the problem working mothers have is that they view their work outside the home as a job and not a career. She presented the hypothesis that if women approached their “jobs” outside the home as “careers” like men do, they would be much happier.

What do you think? Is it an attitude adjustment I need? Do I just need to accept the fact that I am a … gulp… career woman? If I accept that, will I magically appreciate my job more and find it easier to balance the whole world around me?

I just don’t know if I buy it. I mean, theoretically it’s a great idea. I’d like to believe that all of the guilt and sadness would just disappear with a little change in perspective, but to be honest, I think I agreed more with what Karen Czarneck, one of the panelists and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor had to say. 

“I think what holds women back is guilt, guilt that you can’t be there for every soccer game and guilt that you can’t be everything to everybody. I don’t think it’s a negative attitude. We all have got pretty good attitudes about ourselves, whether we like our jobs or not. But when you feel guilty that you’re not someplace, it will kill you.”

Ultimately, until we learn to get rid of all the guilt, I don’t think  mothers are ever going to be satisfied with having a career or job… no matter the word you choose to use to describe what you do outside the home. 


9 Responses to “I was up early on Sunday…”

  1. Ginger
    November 30th, 2010 @ 1:33 am

    I would have liked to see that. Not enough to be up voluntarily at 6:30 on Sunday, but still.

    For ME (and I know it varies for everyone)–I was totally a career woman before I had my son. I maybe didn't like my current job, but I was building a *career*. And then I had my son and I just didn't care anymore. It turned INTO a job. It had to, for me to be able to give enough of myself to everything.

    I couldn't make more hours in the day, or manufacture more people to work with, or convince my employer that I'd be a better more productive employee on an adjusted schedule, so I had to stop giving 100% to my career and my family so I had something to give to both. The only it worked was for me to let go of the career thing. It's a job now. I leave at 5–except when traffic's bad or something massively blows up–and I don't pick work back up until the next morning. In my field, that doesn't a career make. But it does allow me to be the best mom I can be in my brief time with my son, AND keep bringing home the bacon.

  2. molly
    November 30th, 2010 @ 3:53 am

    Honestly? For me it's been about the company I work for and how they've treated me. I have worked for three companies since I had my first son. I am finally at a workplace where I don't so much mind going into work. Because they respect me. They respect the work/life balance. They WANT us to have a good life outside of work. It is so very refreshing to work for a company like this.

    When my kids are sick they ask me how they are feeling. They remember my kids names! Before I was so unhappy. The companies treated me like total shit and they didn't care or listen.

    My attitude has changed because I work for a company who knows how important family is. That has made all the difference for me.

  3. Blair@HeirtoBlair
    November 30th, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

    I'm with both Ginger & Molly.

    I agree whole-heartedly with Ginger. Every single word she said – I had a career until my son came along. I was in love with my career, never grumbled on a workday, & looked forward to progressing. Now? It's a job.


    It's a job in part because of how my company treats me now that I am a mother. It's a job because they make me feel like a failure for not staying home (all of my bosses wives stayed home). I increased my sales by over 50% this past year alone, am still here at 8am sharp every morning…but I'm still frowned upon when I have to leave to take my son to the pediatrician.

    It's a no-win situation for me with my company.

  4. Jessica
    November 30th, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    I also completely agree with Ginger. I had a career until my son was born, now it's a job, and a job that I no longer look forward to going to, and count the hours until I get to leave to go home to be with my son.

    Most women in my field (and it's a predominately women run field) become SAHM's when they have their little ones, because they realize that they can't do the work we do and take care of their babies. If I could afford to be a SAHM, I would do it in a second. You would think that this would make my company allow more people to work part time/have a daycare so that moms can check on their little ones during the day/be more flexible about needing to leave for Dr's appts or sick kids, but no.

    Another reason why my career is now just a job.

  5. MrsPatterson
    November 30th, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

    I have to disagree with the lady who said if I viewed my job as a career I'd be happier. Mainly because I mostly dislike my job and am working in a field that is not even remotely related to what I'd actually like to be doing. So if I viewed my current job as my career, I think it would just go a long way to making me feel even yuckier about everything!

  6. Jennifer
    November 30th, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

    Guilt, 100%.

    Before I had kids I worked in a field that I considered my "career". After my daughter I quit so that I wouldn't have to travel as much and I had several "jobs" for awhile. I even made the comment sometimes that I had had a career and what I was doing now wasn't even close.

    Now that I'm working back in my field again I feel like I'm back on my career path. I can see what the future holds and I have a plan to advance in what I'm doing. But that does not stop the guilt I feel at not being able to be there with my kids when I feel like I need to be.

    I think mothers (and probably everyone really) needs more flexibility in their jobs. This morning my son was crying and didn't want to stay at daycare. He was just having a rough time of it. If I could have stayed with him another hour then he would have been fine, but I couldn't. No flexibility. I'm sure what women needs varies, but that would help me tremendously and would help alleviate some of the guilt I feel.

  7. Delia
    November 30th, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

    Guilt. What a dirty little word. I'm currently changing jobs and the guilt coming with it is insane. I know deep down that I need to change for my happiness and sanity. But the guilt I'm feeling because the drive is longer and my son will be at daycare for an extra 45 minutes each day is eating me up. There is such a fine line between job and career. I really hope that liking my job a little bit more will make me feel like it is a career. I hope that it makes me happy and that being happy at work will make me happy at home.

  8. Baby Mama
    December 1st, 2010 @ 1:55 am

    I really like the way Ginger phrased it. And, while there is an element of guilt, I can't help but think that part of it is just biology. My husband can barely see MJ for 4 days straight and he's fine with it. If I don't get enough time with her I miss her horribly. Not even just guilt, but just desperately wanting to spend more time with her. What I find myself hoping is that I can hang on for a few years (5 or so, I'm guessing) and at some point, when things settle down, progress with my career. I guess I think the ultimate problem is that there's no good way to take a significant quantity of time off, because that's really what I need.

  9. ayesha
    December 1st, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

    I was just thinking about this self-same thing last week. I was actually reminiscing about the good ol' days when I could stay at work late and pop into the lab on weekends to do a bit of extra stuff. Crazy, hey? Now I barely have time to check email on Saturdays… I definitely find it harder to keep up with my (single/male/childless) colleagues. But I think it's a change for the better!

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