Last week I read a Huffington Post article ragging on Marissa Mayer, CEO of yahoo, for saying that her baby has been “easy” and transitioning back to work has been fine. The first time I gleaned it, I couldn’t finish reading it. I couldn’t put my finger on why I was cringing. Was I upset with Mayer or was I upset with Lisa Belkin, the author of the article. I took a step back and realized it was the latter. Belkin just seems so damn bitter, taking it out on Mayer.
I wonder if Belkin felt she was helping the “working mom cause,” by not wanting Mayer to come out and say that being a working mom is going great for her. Pure speculation on my part, but I just know from personal experience, from watching middle school students interact, and from watching how my three-year-old acts, when you are upset or frustrated, you tend to want to take it out on others instead of looking more deeply at yourself. This is what I infer.
What also ticked me off about Belkin’s piece was that she continually used the plural pronouns “we” and “us” as if all working moms felt the way she did. She put the weight of the working mom on her shoulders and spoke up for all of us. Thanks, but no thanks.
“Putting “baby” and “easy” in the same sentence turns you into one of those mothers we don’t like very much.”
Who is Belkin to say that I want to harp on a mom who maybe had it easier than me in those early infancy days? I may have felt frustrated at times with my own situation, but never did I look down on a mom because her child wasn’t as difficult as mine. It doesn’t help the mom cause, take out the “working” part, to judge others. It just doesn’t. Counterproductive, really.
“It’s just that we don’t have a lot of other pregnant Fortune 500 superstars to look to, so we held you up as a role model and now we worry that you’re modeling the wrong thing.”
I don’t know about you, but it never crossed my mind to hold Mayer up as my role model. Did you? I have no desires to be a Fortune 500 superstar. Is it great to see a working momma as the CEO of a very powerful company? Absolutely. But Belkin, don’t mistake this for thinking that all the working moms in this world will now hold her up as their role model, though Mayer has mentioned in the past that she will be viewed as a role model as a women CEO of a Fortune 500 company. It just doesn’t mean every damn working mom views her this way. And for those who do look up to her, how is she modeling the wrong thing by being positive?
Overall, there’s just this huge hostile tone to Belkin’s piece.
“We don’t wish you any problems, just as we don’t really wish bad things for the woman in Mommy and Me whose jeans are a size smaller than before she gave birth. Or the one whose infant slept through the night at three weeks. It would be petty of us to hold that against anyone.”
The tone. Hostile, right? She says it would be “petty” to “hold that against anyone,” yet isn’t that exactly what she’s doing in this piece? If you ask me, Belkin is not helping the “working mom cause,” but rather hindering it. Yes we have obstacles to overcome. It’s true that my life isn’t rainbows and unicorns 100% of the time. But that doesn’t mean that I deplore my life on a daily basis because my days aren’t pure perfection. And you know what, I bet that Mayer’s life isn’t pure perfection either, but as your supposed “role model,” perhaps she’s choosing to not make statements about how many times she changes her power suit during the day due to baby spit up or how she’s not sat down to dinner at home in a while because baby always needs to be moving and only wants momma, because she knows that you and others in media have hoisted her up on a pedestal and knows that her every move is being analyzed to no end. I mean, her choice to be on the cover of Fortune sans her pregnancy bump received gobs of scrutiny.
NOTE THE IRONY: Click on the link just above and you’ll hear Belkin chatting about how people need to leave Mayer alone. “Too much is being made of the cover,” Belkin said. “She doesn’t stand for all women,” Belkin continued, “She doesn’t have to represent us all the time.” Now that is hysterical.
Belkin tries to qualify her stance a bit in this piece; however, it’s heard on deaf ears because once again, she’s speaking for all of us after chatting about how the rest of us are “ordinary” compared to Mayer.
“Yes, we understand that this is partly our fault. You didn’t ask us to watch your every move. You never declared yourself the standard in working mommydom.”
Hmmm…I don’t look at any part of my life as a working mom as my “fault.” I’ve made choices to lead me to where I am in life, and none of those choices would have ever led me down a path to being a powerful business woman as Mayer has done. The minute Belkin says that “we understand that this is partly our fault,” she has just destroyed so much of the progress of the working mom, and really working women.
And you want to know a little secret? My Abby, she was an easy baby, sleeping through the night pretty early on. But shhhh…don’t tell anyone. I wouldn’t want to be looked on as a bad role model for the rest of you.
What are your thoughts on Belkin’s piece? Anyone else find it hysterical that you can find her chatting about how we should leave Mayer alone, then she goes and writes this piece?
Photo via Giorgio Montersino on Flickr