When I was at the doctor a few weeks ago, an old issue of a working mom magazine was laying on the floor. On the front cover, it boasted the top law firms for women just waiting inside the pages. So I opened it up and started reading.
And I remembered why I never read working mom magazines.
This is not a slap to the magazine, it’s just that… it doesn’t apply to 90% of the women in the work force. It would be like if a magazine listed the best jobs for men and the top three were President of the United States, Owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls. Are they great jobs? Probably yes, in a lot of ways. Can every man in America do them?
Not on your life. They don’t have the necessary tools or skills… or money, in some cases.
The same problem holds true for working women. It’s freaking phenomenal that the women I saw featured in that magazine are where they are. I’m sure they worked ridiculously hard to reach managing partner or wherever they’ve worked to find themselves. But when every professional woman “featured” is one with a highly paid spouse and live-in nannies and house cleaners, you have to admit you MIGHT have lost your core audience.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a live-in nanny and I (very poorly) clean my own home. I don’t have a highly paid spouse… I have child support. And although I’d like very much to be successful in my chosen field, I don’t want to have to rely on live-in help or a successful spouse to make it happen.
The featured article I read was all about flexible hours for women who wanted a family life. It was about how a lot of firms are reducing billable hours and paring down requirements so that women can still climb the ladder and be present in their family. And that’s a really great thing. It’s wonderful that careers are realizing that they will lose their highly valued women if they make them choose between work and family every day.
But the fact of the matter remains… someone is going to have to be responsible for the sick children. Someone is responsible for the dishes in the sink, the mud on the floor, and the laundry in the hamper. And if both mommy and daddy are working outside the home and against working inside the home on their off hours… or even if ONE of them is against working inside the home on their off hours… something is going to snap.
Like the marriage, in my case.
Like the children’s well being, in some cases.
Like the terrible diseases lurking in the nastiness, in some extreme cases.
And that’s why so many of the “featured” women in these articles have live-in or daily help. Because their time is devoted to their careers and to their children, but not to their house. Is there anything wrong with that? No. But for 90% of the women I know who work outside the home… it’s not a choice they have. Because unless you come from money or you’re lucky enough to reach mega-salary before having children, paying someone else to do what you can do yourself is bad business, bad money management, and flat out unaffordable.
Can men and women both work outside the home and reach the pinnacles of their respective careers WITHOUT hiring help for the home?
Who knows. Judging by the women and men who garner national attention, it doesn’t seem like anyone has ever really tried.