There's an article in today's NY Times titled "Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood." Written by Louise Story. The researchers in this article are asking women college students if they will continue to work full time once they have children and many of these young women are saying that they will stay at home once they have kids.
Before I go any further let me say that I absolutely think that stay-at-home moms work hard and there is a lot of good things about being a stay-at-home mom and I definitely don't look down on stay-at-home moms. At the same time, I don't consider myself a lesser mother because I am not a stay-at-home mom.
That being said, what women out there had a clue what they really wanted when they were a 20 something co-ed? I mean, can you really take seriously what these women are saying -- especially when they actually have no clue what either the working world or child rearing will be like? Come on Ms. Story and give us all a break. If I actually followed through with what I thought I wanted when I was a 20 something college kid I wouldn't even have a kid right now! Life is way too unpredictable to make these sweeping and potentially dangerous statements. Are we going to go back to the days when the only reason a woman went to college is to get her MRS degree? Do you really have to make this kind of decision at 19 or 20?
The other part of this article that really annoyed me was the mothers of these girls who then felt validated by the fact that their daughters want to stay at home too. Is that what you need to feel good about yourself -- for your kid to do exactly what you did? I mean these kids are students at Harvard and Yale. As far as I'm concerned that alone pretty much validates your job as a parent. How do the working mom's of these women feel about this? Ms. Story hardly represents this issue in an unbiased way adding only one quote (of about 10 or 12 quotes) where one of these college women was in favor of working full time and happy that their mother did too.
The point that was really missed here is the fact that our society still does not make it easy for women to work and be mothers. There is no support to do both. Quality daycare or a decent nanny is very expensive and a lot of women are put in the position where they would simply be working to pay the daycare or nanny. It’s hard to feel like its worthwhile in that situation -- especially given the pressure put on women to stay at home. Men never face the dilemma. No one would think a man a bad father because he worked full time. Granted it is probably not easy for a man to be a stay-at-home dad either. But that is the problem. We need to change more than the lip service on this and really change our society. Maybe if women had a longer maternity leave they would feel more ready to go back to work at the end of their leave? Maybe if daycare were a little more affordable, more women would choose to go back to work? Maybe if working part time were not looked at as a career path killer in corporate American, more women would choose that option?