“You can’t be a great mum and keep working all the time. … I wanted to spend more time with my family. A year off was my birthday present to myself. I didn’t actually act or write. I was just a mum. I taught drama at my daughter’s school, cooked meals and had fun. I highly recommend others to do the same if they can afford it. … Sometimes in life you’ll have some things, at other times you will have other things. You don’t need it all at once, it’s not good for you. Motherhood is a full-time job. The only way I could have continued working would have been by delegating the running of the home to other people. I never wanted to do this as I find motherhood profoundly enjoyable.”
Because a celebrity hasn’t weighed in on working moms in, oh, a couple of days, here is Emma Thompson in the UK’s Daily Mail on her decision to take a year off from acting to stay at home with her 14-year-old daughter, Gaia, who is pictured. (Thompson also has a 26-year-old adopted son, Tindyebwa.) Recently, millionaire-with-nannies Gwyneth Paltrow complained that working as an actress is harder for her than for moms on a 9-to-5 schedule. Angelina Jolie responded that she has “much more support than most people” and “women in my position … shouldn’t complain.” Sort of in the middle of both points of view, Thompson explained to the Daily Mail how she just didn’t feel like she could juggle parenthood and work without a lot of help, which made her feel like she was missing out. The only way not to miss out was to put work on hold for a year. Keep reading »
Spending time at home is way more stressful than spending time at work, according to a surprising new study by Penn State researchers. This comes as something of a surprise given the endless national dialogue about American working too much.
The study measured participants’ cortisol levels, which is one of our bodies’ major markers of stress, both at home and at work. The results show that for both men and women, spending time at home is not very relaxing. The study also learned that women often feel even better at work than men do. This pertains to people both with and without children, but especially for those who don’t have kids. Keep reading »
Stay at home vs. working moms: it’s a debate that may well have sparked the heated flames of the “mommy wars.” There haven’t been a shortage of opinions on this topic, and despite being rehashed to death, more keep coming. The latest voice to enter into the fray is Allison Klein, a former reporter turned stay-at-home mom who recently offered up an op-ed for The Washington Post. Klein writes:
“You see, I love being home with my girls, now 4 and 5. I’m just not such a fan of telling people that’s what I do. This is new for me. [...] This is D.C., where nothing about you is more important than your job, or at least that’s what people always say. And being a full-time mom doesn’t exactly up my Q score. These conversations are fraught because I want people to know I’m not giving up my identity as a strong, smart woman. Cue the eye roll.”
Mother judgment — it’s there regardless of what you choose. And, when we fight each other, nobody wins, because infighting only clouds the more important issue: the narrow way we frame this stay-at-home vs. working mother discussion. I wish there could be a huge disclaimer on these types of articles reminding readers that not every mother is in a position to actually make this choice. There are families that need two working parents in order to ensure that housing and food costs are met. There needs to be a greater understanding of the inherent privilege involved in even having this “debate” in the first place. Keep reading »
One of the most intriguing characters on “Scandal” is First Lady Mellie Grant. She’s not just a WASP sent from Central Casting, or a put-upon wife of a philanderer. Mellie gave up her Yale and Harvard-bred ambitions for the full-time job of photo ops and glad-handing as the First Lady. Just like Lucy Ricardo always wanted husband Ricky to just give her one opportunity to be in a show, Mellie Grant wants to influence policy and make big moves wherever she can. At every turn, she is stopped, often angrily, by her husband the President and his apoplectic Chief Of Staff. Both men remind her, every episode it seems, that the First Lady is supposed to be pretty sidekick, not a policy wonk. In one episode, Mellie is witheringly informed her job is to be “ornamental.”
Watching Mellie Grant on “Scandal” has made me look at Michelle Obama differently for sure. It’s not hard to imagine she, too, feels a bit trapped in a golden cage. We don’t exactly know whether Michelle Obama feels like her intellect is being wasted, but we do know from Jodi Kantor’s book, The Obamas, a portrait of the Obama marriage, that Barack’s high-level staff has bristled in the past at Michelle’s involvement. But also we know that Michelle dedicated her first year as First Lady to acclimating her two children to their new home and school and has spent many years since promoting healthy eating and exercise. All this has been summed up by Michelle Cottle, a Daily Beast scribe in a piece for Politico Magazine, as a feminist failure. Keep reading »
When I arrived at the basement of the Calvin Theater in Northampton, Massachusetts, I found folk musician Ani DiFranco in the midst of trying to get her six-month-old son Dante down for a nap. Minutes later I spotted the young baby — still very much awake — strapped into a carrier about to head out on a walk. This meshing of work and life happens daily for DiFranco, who is back on the road after having taken some time off to have her second child. Like his sister before him, Dante has joined DiFranco on tour, and the singer has been relearning how to split her time between motherhood and music.
While her son (hopefully) walked his way into a nap, DiFranco and I discussed everything from hitting the road as a mother of two, the notion of “having it all,” her ever-growing relationship with her fans and so much more. Keep reading »
According to UK’s Guardian, Japan’s young people aren’t having a whole lot of sex. In fact, a study found that 45 percent of women 16 to 25 “were not interested or despised sexual contact.” Despised. The desire to get married is declining, and fewer babies were born in Japan in 2012 than ever before. The changes have been so drastic that officials are fearing for Japan’s ability to repopulate itself.
But when the Guardian looked closer at the conundrum, it appears Japanese youth have some pretty good reasons for rejecting dating. This leads me to wonder whether Japan’s declining sexuality is a sign of what may be in store for other countries in the future. Here are some reasons Japan’s young people are swearing off sex:
Keep reading »
In 2003, The New York Times Magazine published an article by Lisa Belkin about the “opt-out revolution” — highly-educated women with prestigious jobs who left the workforce for full-time parenting. Was this, it seemed to ask, what our feminist foremothers had fought for?
The article was trashed from here to the moon with good reason: it focused on the wealthy elite who are able to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) with no major dent to the family’s way of living. Pre-recession, some of these women assumed they would be able to transition easily back into the workforce. Others threw themselves into volunteering, putting their skills as go-getters to work elsewhere.
Now, Judith Warner from the Times Magazine has followed up with another piece about women (not the same group of women) who “opted out” of their high-powered jobs to be SAHMs … with varying degrees of personal happiness and professional success 10-15 years on. Keep reading »
In June 1961, after applying to Harvard’s graduate program in city planning, Phyllis Richman received a letter from Harvard asking her exactly how she planned on having a career and a family.
You see, Phyllis’s admission seemed like a waste of time to the admissions office. William A. Doeble, a professor in the department to which she had applied, wanted to make sure that she really wanted to put all of the time and money into an education that they felt she may never use when she was already so busy being a wife.
In his letter to Richman, Doeble wrote:
“[F]or your benefit, and to aid us in coming to a final decision, could you kindly write us a page or two at your earliest convenience indicating specifically how you might plan to combine a professional life in city planning with your responsibilities to your husband and a possible future family?” Keep reading »