I miss the Weekend.
I think you can imagine the rest of the post from here.
I miss the Weekend.
I think you can imagine the rest of the post from here.
After I gave birth this past February, I thought,
Well. How am I going to write about that?
Because what I felt in labor had been deeply spiritual. In my first labor, I sensed God’s presence, but not in a physical way. What I experienced was beyond my physical senses.
But this time… I had seen things.
I had actually physically felt things that I couldn’t explain.
I knew that a blog post would become buried in this website over time. That’s not the way that I wanted to share this experience with an audience. I wanted something more permanent. Something more discover-able and more available to as many people as possible.
So I published a short Kindle book, called Why Your Middle Name is Jacob: A Birth Story.
From August 3-7, I will be giving away free copies, so I encourage you to download your copy today and share with anyone whom you think would be interested in it.
As long as you have an Amazon account, you can read this book. Just go to Amazon’s website, log in, find the book, put it in your cart, and checkout (for free). Then choose “Your Account,” and then select “Your Content and Devices.” You will see the book there and you can read it in your web browser.
Included in this e-book are six additional essays that I wrote in the early postpartum period, curated and compiled for a larger audience.
Kindle Direct Publishing only allows me to give away free copies of a title every 90 days. Please take advantage of this free promotional period while you can. After August 7th, the book will be available for $2.99.
As an independent author, I rely on you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on my work.
I greatly appreciate your support!
That I am selfish?
That holding my sick baby for the entire night doesn’t feel that rewarding?
That for several months when my teaching load was light, I didn’t pick my daughter up from daycare until 5:30, even though I had finished everything for teaching and grading by 3:30
That I love my kids, but I’m at my best when I have a break from them
That some days are nothing but chores and work from sunup to sundown
That there are periods of several days in a row when the only thing that I get to “do for myself” is drink a cup of coffee in the quiet stillness in my cubicle before it’s time to teach
That I don’t like that
That I miss The Weekend
That I miss binge-watching TV for hours on end
That I wanted a child, but I didn’t want to be a “mom.”
(Does that make sense?)
That each day is a decision to live a spirit of humility and generosity (even though I sometimes want to be childish and self-centered)
That I constantly fail at this
That I lose my patience and yell
What if I told you that I’m not inherently great at mothering simply because I’m female?
That it’s a struggle to put the needs of others before me
That each day is a decision to let go of my desire to preserve my sleep, my time, my energy, my sanity
What if I told you that motherhood has made me more vulnerable than I have ever been my whole life?
That each day is a decision to draw my children close, rather than keeping them at arm’s length
because of my fear that they will sink their hooks so deeply into my being that they can unhinge me
What if I told you that I’ve grown two more chambers of my heart
And birth separated them from me
That they are now out there in the world, naive and not yet broken
And oh so exposed
That when they are crushed by the world, I will be too
What if I told you that before I became a mother, I thought that “moms” were minivans and bad pants and nonexistent sex lives?
That I thought that once I entered motherhood, it was all over
That once I became a mother, I might as well abandon anything that I wanted to do for myself for the rest of my life
And by that logic, I had to finish writing anything meaningful before I had any kids.
(Because they would just make it impossible to ever write again, right?)
What if I told you that before I gave birth, I had months of writer’s block
But once my daughter was born, I couldn’t stop writing.
That between naps and feedings and diaper changes, I wrote pages and pages and pages.
That sometimes I wrote at 3:00 a.m. after a feeding because I had another good idea
What if I told you that after I placed my time and energy and plans on the altar of motherhood
It gave me back far, far more precious gifts.
Motherhood has knocked me down into the messy quagmire of life time and time again.
It has made me sob and ache and grovel and resent and rage.
But it has also made me a Badass.
It has made me skilled in the art of Forgiving
and Getting Back Up
and Moving On
My absolute worst fear is suffering the death of one of my children.
I can imagine coming to grips with the death of anyone in my life.
Except my children.
Last Friday, I was reading my Facebook feed and read a horrific post from a member of my church.
Her daughter-in-law, Britney, was driving on a two-lane road with her five-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, and two-month-old son, Jonah, in the backseat.
You already know how this story ends.
An oncoming car illegally crossed the center to pass a car.
It killed the little girl.
The mother and baby boy survived.
In the picture, Jocelyn was balancing on one foot, as if in the midst of dancing. She was posed proudly with her baby brother. Smiling. Blond and smiling. Happy. Just like my daughter.
There at my desk, I cried.
Britney was me. Her kids were my kids.
And my heart was broken for her.
All of this happened just days before Mother’s Day.
It was too cruel and unfair for one person to bear.
How could Britney face life and the world, now knowing, now feeling every day, that horrific things like that can happen?
Just like that.
How could she keep going?
But of course I know how.
We all know how.
She’s a mother.
This is stuff that mothers are made of.
Loving through pain.
Living while part of you is dying.
Believing through despair and doubt.
Resiliency beyond measure.
Pure grit and strength.
Britney has already undergone several surgeries to repair her broken bones, including her pelvis. She has been moved out of the ICU and into the trauma unit. (And let’s not forget the fact that she’s just three months postpartum.)
Her newborn son also suffered extensive injuries. Two broken femurs and a broken arm.
He is currently being cared for around the clock by his grandmother, Lanae, who works as a surgical nurse. He couldn’t be in better hands while his mother is recovering.
I made myself imagine what I would do if I were living Britney’s reality.
What would I do?
I would sob and ache and grovel and resent and rage.
For a Long Time.
I would lash out and blame and despair.
I would be out for blood. I would crave Revenge. I would want to hurt and crush and obliterate. I would want to empty the life of the person who didn’t think first, who would rather take a risk, who thought the laws didn’t apply to him.
(Because I think first. Because I don’t want to take the risk. Because I don’t think the laws don’t apply to me.)
And while I would be going through this, I would still have to Get Back Up.
Although I would want to take time off from Life to mourn and process and make meaning, I would have to immediately Get Back Up.
For my son.
Because he would still need to eat and sleep and grow.
He would still need my arms to tell him that he is safe, even though I had just seen how unsafe the world can be.
I would need to decide every hour to keep on practicing the appearance of Love even though I’d be simultaneously steeling my heart from the possibility of Future Pain.
Because Love would have just killed off a part of me.
Love had created a trove of beautiful moments of my little girl — but now there would be no more. And the more time that would pass, the more those memories would lose their clarity. And if I forgot any part of those memories, it would be like losing her all over again.
All I really would want to do is climb into the ground with her so she wouldn’t be alone in the dark.
I would be like this for a Long Time.
But I also know that One Day, through the crisis and search to find meaning, I would finally choose Love again.
Because Love is the only path to Peace.
I would keep walking.
I used to pray that Life Would Be Okay and Get Better. But I’ve stopped doing that.
Because that’s not what Life is for. The life worth living isn’t a life without pain because the pain is what shows us life’s worth.
When I say prayers now, it is in moments for others who are in pain.
And the prayer is that they keep moving
And keep walking through the pain
And that if they fall, that God will reach a Hand down to help them get back up.
Our hearts ache with yours in your time of hurting and grieving. My prayer for you is that you keep walking through the pain. Keep moving. And keep believing that there is good in the world even though it is also so very bad at times. In fact, perhaps the world is good because it is bad.
Years from now, I hope that you can look back at these dark hours of your life and see all the light that people are shining on it. It’s always the people who have suffered and cried and walked the Path of Pain that will be the first to reach out their hands to you. Take those hands. Let them help you get back up. And don’t feel guilty about it. You are not a burden.
Because Some Day, it will be you who is the one reaching out and saving someone else.
You are not alone.
And you are Loved.
If you would like to help this family financially as they cope with medical and funeral expenses, you can contribute through their GoFundMe fundraiser here.
No gift is too small and you can give anonymously if you prefer.
If you would like to provide financial assistance to Lanae as she takes care of Jonah full-time, you can donate here.
Some women tear up as they leave their children at daycare for the first time.
I practically skip inside.
Grin from ear to ear.
I. LOVE. DAYCARE.
Last Monday was Henry’s first day of daycare. Another daycare mom saw me taking him inside and asked if it was his first day. After I nodded, she jumped out of her van and gave me the biggest hug and said, “Isn’t it great!”
“YESSS!!!” I yelled.
“With the first one, you’re bawling about it and then the second, you’re just like ‘have fun!'”
She gets it.
It’s true. The first time we started daycare was much more involved and made me a little nervous. We spent about 20 minutes going through the list of critical bits of information that the infant teacher needed to know to feed, change, and soothe our baby to sleep.
She likes to be rocked to sleep while being held sideways. Like this. And try to put her down 90 minutes after she wakes up. We haven’t started solids yet. How do you heat the bottle for her? She likes it just lukewarm. Not too warm. If she starts crying and she’s not tired, she might be wet. Sometimes. Just check. You’re going to check every hour or so, right? Okay. She’s really pretty easy to take care of.
But after two days, I’m pretty sure we thought daycare was a Gift from God. (Thank you, Ms. Cathy!)
It was like, Wait… We just drop the baby off at 7:00 a.m. and we don’t have to be back until 6:00 p.m. at the latest????
Here’s some money.
Here’s lots of money.
I love you. Here’s some cookies.
Do you like Panera? I got you a gift card. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Thank you so much. You’re wonderful.
Daycare pretty much taught our daughter about hand-washing, drinking from a cup, and sitting in a chair for meals. They helped us potty train her. They taught her how to sit in a circle for storytime, how to cut with scissors, how to hold a crayon, and how to fingerpaint. They provided an atmosphere full of dress-up clothes, kid’s kitchens, and books, books, books. (We didn’t have to buy any of it! And I’m not responsible for cleaning up the toys!) They taught her how to walk in a line and take turns. They showed her that a room can be stunningly decorated with the artwork of little hands.
And oh so important… They introduced her to the concept of sharing.
They used the classroom to teach rules. They modeled politeness and respect for others. They reinforced the lesson that actions have consequences.
This does not make me sad.
It doesn’t make me feel like I’m not doing my job as a mother.
I don’t regret sending my kids to daycare.
I wholeheartedly embrace it. I even embrace it to the tune of half of my salary.
On the surface, it’s easy to see why some moms love daycare as much as I do. It gives women a break from the role of being a mother.
This is huge.
Mothers in particular are constantly carrying around a mental list of things to do that just grows longer and heavier with each child.
Daycare allows them to put some of that down.
And pick something else up.
But my love of daycare goes beyond that.
Daycare, I believe, is an expression of feminism.
For those of you who are completely turned off by the term “feminism”, stay with me for a minute. Because that word gets a bad wrap in some circles. Feminism doesn’t mean “man-hating” or “female victimization.” (I do not blame men individually for the culture and structure of our society. I blame patriarchy.)
Feminism is about sharing power. It’s about making sure that everyone has a voice. It’s about making sure that when important decisions are made about policy (both in government and business), the people who are making those decisions don’t all come from the same background (White. Male. Native-born. Able-bodied. English-speaking.).
Millienials are the first generation to kind of get feminism. Not all of them do, but from my anecdotal observations, it seems like some of the assumptions that we had about gender and power are finally not assumptions anymore.
One of our former teenage babysitters told us that when she was catcalled in the school hallway, she turned around, went up to the guy, and told him in very clear terms,
“You don’t treat me that way!”
When I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, we were taught in school to imagine our futures. What would we like to be when we grew up? Doctors, astronauts, teachers? Athletes? Superheroes? Dinosaurs? Robots? We were encouraged to let our imaginations run wild.
Like many women in their 30s, I truly do not ever remember an adult — teacher, parent, or family friend — telling me that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do. No one told me that I was expected to get married and have kids right away. (Although my grandmother did ask me when I turned 18 if I was interested in any good boys…)
I was like many of my female friends. In high school, we all worked hard and earned good grades.
We went to college.
We got good grades there, too.
Maybe we went to graduate school.
And we got good grades there, too.
We followed the rules. We were doing fine.
We got jobs. We didn’t negotiate salary (because that’s not what good girls do, even though they should, we just couldn’t imagine drawing a line in the sand. That’s not who we are.)
And then we had children.
And everyone looked at us and said, “Are you going to stay home or return to work?”
No one asked our partners if they were going to stay home.
And there you have it.
The message is clear. It’s your baby.
It doesn’t provide any economic benefit to this company. It’s even costing us productivity. Make up your mind. Do you want to work here or not? Six weeks is a lot of time for you to be gone. You don’t want to make that kid dependent on you anyway, do you?
What about all the things that I could be now that I’m an adult?
Was it all just empty promises, fueled by good intentions and a dream of equality?
Because, I’m here to tell you, access to affordable (!!!) quality daycare is critical for keeping women’s voices at the table. (Side note: The United States was a hair’s breadth away from free universal preschool for all in the 1970s. Here’s what happened to that awesome, bipartisan bill.)
The tide is turning, though.
Almost all of the dads that I know assume as much responsibility for their kids’ lives as their mothers do. When they take care of their kids, they’re not “babysitting.”
I mean… duh.
They’re being dads.
When they take their kids to the grocery store, it’s not some miraculous event that comes around only once every few years.
My husband knows how to swaddle a baby better than I do. He was the one who made the baby food and showed me how to make smooth formula without all the clumps. He can change a diaper in the dark and he’s even yelled at me for making too much noise while he’s trying to put the baby to sleep.
Hope springs eternal.
Regardless of how you define “life,” at 3 months old, a baby has officially been a growing organism for a whole year.
In 365 days.
A. Ma. Zing.
This child was conceived four months after a miscarriage. We could have tried sooner, but, you know. Closure. Time. Space. All of these things are good and healing.
Because I was charting my basal temperatures every day for months before all of my pregnancies, I had a pretty good idea of when I would ovulate.
Day 14 is ovulation day for a “typical” 28-day cycle. Mine was usually Day 16, but sometimes, it was as late as Day 22. This meant that I had short luteal phases, which can make it difficult to get pregnant or to keep a pregnancy. (I often had a nine-day luteal phase, and sometimes as low as six days. Not good.)
When we conceived our first child, it was Day 18. So, based on past experience, we decided to aim for Days 14-18. You know. Cover all our bases.
But Days 14-18 of that particular cycle landed right smack in the middle of our “vacation” to the D.C. area.
I put vacation in quotation marks because we were traveling with a 2 1/2 year old.
So, yeah, it wasn’t really a vacation that was very conducive for baby-making. But that was the timeline.
So be it.
Three days before we left for that trip, our daughter went to bed early and this beautiful window of an hour with nothing to do opened up.
It was Day 11. In the 22 months of data that I had collected, I had never ovulated before Day 14. But whatever. Let’s just have a good time, we thought.
As it turned out, that was my ovulation day.
We officially started “trying” on Day 14, but of course, nothing we did at that point would have gotten us pregnant.
The best laid plans sometimes, right?
It would be easy to write this story as destiny. That because our baby is so beautiful and perfect, we were just meant to have sex days before we had planned. God just knew that we needed to get together then in order to make this beautiful baby. Or something like that.
Believing in destiny is all well and good when it’s going your way.
But for all the healing that believing in destiny can do, it can just as easily bleed you dry.
When we miscarried, were we just meant to have sex at the wrong time?
Was that destiny?
Or is destiny just a comforting idea that we hold on to when it helps us?
If there is no destiny, is it all just chaos and luck?
Or do we call it chaos so we don’t need to acknowledge the real consequences of our actions?
Although I’ve been thankful for this child that made his way from cell to zygote to blastocyst to embryo to fetus to baby…
I sometimes wonder about the two pregnancies that didn’t get this far. What would they have been like? Were they boys? Girls? One of each? Did they have chromosomal problems? Would they have been perfect if my body could have held onto them? Would they look like my two living children, who both look more like their cousins than they do their parents?
What alternate course of events may have played out if those pregnancies lasted?
When it comes to conceiving a child, it feels like a bit of both.
A few weeks ago, a friend emailed me a link to a blog post by Samantha Johnson, called “When I Became a Mother, Feminism Let Me Down.” She argues that while feminism prepared her to break barriers and pursue any dream she desired, it did not prepare her for motherhood.
Motherhood was not considered to be one of those many dreams of feminists. Feminism has railed so hard against the culture of homemaker/breadwinner that now, there doesn’t seem to be much of a space to stand inside of feminism while you are a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom, for those unfamiliar with the lingo).
We are teaching our young people that there is no value in motherhood and that homemaking is an outdated, misogynistic concept. We do this through the promotion of professional progression as a marker of success, while completely devaluing the contribution of parents in the home.
But I have to agree.
Before having a child, I saw myself as a successful product of feminism. I had a Bachelors and a Masters degree. I had a full-time job at a university. I had presented at state and national conferences in my field. I had married a man who was also a feminist. He was the cook in our marriage, for God’s sake.
Check, check, check. And kicked-ass-while-doing-it, check.
By societal standards of success, I was doing very well.
Our culture is very good at instilling the idea that for anything important, you should engage in some kind of education or training. But the subtext underneath all of this required preparation for a career (and the pride from all of my accomplishments while engaging in that career) is that no preparation is really needed for motherhood.
Either because it’s so easy that anyone can do it? Or perhaps there’s nothing much that you can learn before actually becoming a mother?
Both of which any mother can tell you is far, far from the truth.
In my twenties, I had privately viewed the work of mothering as not as difficult as the job for which I had worked so hard to be prepared. On an arrogant day, I might have even been so bold as to believe that mothering also wasn’t as important or valued.
My logic went like this: Millions of women are mothers, but how many women can say they teach English as a second language? And if I was doing something “less” than my what I could with all of my capabilities, wasn’t that a step backward in life? How much time would I have to take off from work before I could jump back in? Would I still be able to travel and present at conferences?
Would I be as proud of myself for being a mother as I was being a teacher? Would “mother” be a title that I would use to introduce myself to others at parties? And if not, why not?
And then I turned 30.
Having a child changed our lives for sure, but our changes haven’t mirrored some of the national trends.
Unlike many American women, I didn’t have to quit my job to stay at home with the baby. We live in Ohio, where the cost of living is still very reasonable and the commutes are not bad. We make enough money jointly to be able to afford daycare (even though it’s still extremely expensive).
But I can’t deny that I’m not reaching for the stars anymore. I’m doing my job but I have to admit, I bristle at the thought of working evenings and weekends. And gone are the days when I would fuss and fret over a task until it was “just so.”
Unh-uh. Ain’t nobody got time for that anymore.
Sometimes, I think about the trajectory of my career now that I’m in the middle of “small-child-dom.” It would be nice to do something a little different than what I’ve been doing for the last twelve years… but good health insurance.
Ah, to rise so “high”, only to be stymied by family responsibilities and health insurance.
“High” is in quotation marks, of course.
That’s exactly the problem. The modern vision of what it means to “succeed” never, ever depends on having children–although plenty of “successful” people have kids. Children are definitely part of the vision that we have for a modern American family (and if you don’t have kids, people definitely notice and make comments, regardless of the reason).
But when was the last time that you watched a movie where a character was being portrayed as “successful” and that character’s success depended on their role as a parent? (See the bachelor version of Nicholas Cage in The Family Man.)
Usually, the plot of the movie is that the character needs to discover that, hey, being a parent is actually a hell of a lot more important than the job that makes you money (See Adam Sandler in Click!).
All of this reminds me of a recent episode of the podcast, On Point with Tim Ashbrook. In the episode called “A Scathing Critique of Contemporary Feminism,” author and writer, Jessa Crispin explains that feminism has gotten away from one of its main goals–to change systems of oppression. Instead, it has become a movement that seeks to elevate women further and further into the upper echelons of systems that have benefited mostly men. Instead of changing the system, feminism has inspired some women to not only join the system, but rise higher and higher inside of it. While it works out fantastically for those women (what company doesn’t love to brag about how many women it has in upper management?), it leaves the rest of us in the dust.
Or perhaps more fittingly, either unemployed or underemployed.
Her commentary gave me a lot to think about.
In the feminist view, what is “success?”
How do we talk to our children about what it means to be “successful?” And what changes do we need to make in our own minds about what success is so that we may instill a different understanding of success for the next generation?
In Game of Thrones, the Night’s Watch is a group of monk-like men who devote themselves to defending the icy wall that separates the Realm from demonic Whitewalkers. In their oaths, they make this pledge:
Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.
Being a mother of a newborn is a bit like being a Brother of the Night’s Watch.
Not completely. But a bit.
It’s sold to you as important, noble, and life-changing work. And it feels like this for a time, while it’s still fresh and new.
But after a time, you feel like you actually have a lot in common with the Brothers of the Night’s Watch, sent to the end of the world, isolated, doing the work that must be done, the work that safeguards and ensures that humanity goes on, but that no one else will do.
At one time, you looked forward to the night hours that other mothers had once told you were so dear and precious. They talked about those hours as if they had been part adventure, part battle, and part romance.
But then, you find yourself standing in the midst of this long-awaited dream, bleary-eyed, weary, frustrated, resentful, and just downright sad.
And in that moment, it feels like you have been duped. It feels like you have fallen for a grand prank, as if you’ve been traveling toward some oasis, only to find that once you got there, there was nothing but sand to drink and no one to share your frustration with but the stars.
I imagine that it’s a lot like how Jon Snow felt when he realized that the other men who were travelling to the Wall with him were criminals who were being sent there as punishment.
So fueled by your euphoric and powerful love for your child, this feeling that you’ve been doing incredibly important, albeit invisible work, transforms into something quite different.
Loneliness. Singularity. A feeling of forgottenness.
While everyone else has moved on with their lives, there you are. Ever rocking. Ever feeding. Ever diapering and holding. Traveling in a repetitive loop of time. Frozen.
It weighs so heavy on you.
It feels like it will never end.
It feels like this will forever be the rhythm of your life.
When we came home with the baby just six weeks ago, I called those hours between midnight and 6:00 a.m. “The Night Watch.” They were the hours when it was only me and him. My husband and daughter were sound asleep. So was my mother, who had come to help us in those first few weeks.
And then there was me and Henry.
And six hours.
And three feedings.
For about a week, the Night Watch had three feedings, around 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00 a.m. And then it shortened to two feedings, around midnight and 3:00 a.m.
Last week, as Henry turned six weeks old, it shortened even more. We noticed that he would sleep for five and a half hours in one stretch, usually between 11:30 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
This was exciting. Because it opened the possibility of me being able to seriously regain some sleep. My husband and I agreed to share the responsibility for the two feedings. Since I’m much better in the morning and he’s better at night, I took the early morning feeding and he took the late night feeding.
A few days passed like this.
It was sooo great.
In bed at 9:00 p.m. Up at 5:00 a.m.
And I got so much stuff done.
Between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., depending on when Henry would wake up to eat, I could (usually) accomplish the following, always in a different order.
And then it occurred to me.
And now my watch is ended.
There will still be those awful nights of teething and illness when he can’t sleep more than a few minutes at a time. And sometimes, his sleep will be messed up and he’ll want to eat at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.
But for the most part, it’s over.
There is no more Night Watch for me.
Just like that.
And now, I can hardly remember how long those hours were. My memory tells me that I felt so tired and heavy. I remember pulling myself out of sleep and moving through the night, bare feet on the cold tiles of the kitchen floor, digging my hands into the pockets of my robe. Pouring the formula into a bottle, microwaving it (which you should never do… right?), and then trudging back up the stairs (had I actually walked down them? I can’t even remember…).
But the sensations are gone. I cannot recreate them.
And so, those tired moments have become uncoupled from the exact cause of what made them so difficult: the actual feelings of utter exhaustion.
What was once so horrible in the moment has already become a fond memory.
One, I’m sure, I’ll recall next year with longing and misty eyes.
It’s no secret that parental leave in the United States blows big time. Until now, the most our government has been able to approve is the Family Medical Leave Act (1993), which guarantees that employees won’t lose their jobs while they take up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave related to family responsibilities, which can include giving birth.
Hard-line Republicans would say that government has no business in providing paid leave to its citizens, regardless of the reason. That’s simply not the role of government. We don’t want to become a “nanny-state,” do we?
And why should workers be paid when they’re not working? Says the hard-nosed capitalist who views human beings solely as workers, completely divorced of any human attachment that might decrease their productivity.
In her book, “O
(Sorry, just needed to spend 40 minutes feeding and soothing a baby. Ahem.)
In her book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, Brigid Schulte describes capitalism’s “ideal worker” as
“…freed from all home duties, [he] devotes himself completely to the workplace. He is a face-time warrior, the first one in in the morning and the last to leave at night. He is rarely sick. Never takes a vacation, or brings work along if he does. The ideal worker can jump on a plane whenever the boss asks because someone else is responsible for getting the kids off to school or attending the preschool play… So tied to the job is the ideal worker that he works endless hours, even if it costs him his health and his family” (p. 77).
Obviously, there is no room in this ideal worker for care-taking. Also, this ideal worker is decidedly male.
Maybe we should neither be surprised or dismayed by this. After all, we have a capitalist economy. But pure capitalism won’t survive, my friend. Pure capitalism is calculating, cold, and ultimately cruel. If we all adhere purely to capitalism, there would be no more room for care-taking of any kind.
As long as we don’t see our country longitudinally, we’re fine. As long as only the present matters, we’re fine.
After all, pure capitalism can make a generation great.
But the generation that came before and the generation that comes after will suffer for it.
As long as our country doesn’t need to a future, capitalism is splendid.
But back to parental
(Sorry, had to rock a screaming baby to sleep once again. Also, I had a bowl of Grapenuts with one hand while holding the pacifier in the baby’s mouth with the other hand. Also, Terminator Genisys is playing in the background. I’m missing a lot of the plot points, but it doesn’t seem to matter. And for as much as I like Emilia Clarke as Daenerys, I’m not crazy about her in this movie.)
Let me summarize my rambling, because this was supposed to be a post about the lack of parental leave in this country.
What I’m saying is that our country’s capitalistic view of screw-your-need-for-parental-leave-there’s-nothing-in-it-for-the-company is dangerously short-sighted.
But, in fact, there is something in it for the company.
A future, healthy, educated workforce to do their future, highly-skilled jobs.
People like this don’t just grow out of the ground.
They start as babies. Cared for by tired, invisible, and underappreciated hands. Mostly by mothers who have either dropped out of the workplace or are pausing their careers as they take time off to give birth and provide care.
They start as children. Educated by underpaid, overworked teachers.
They end as old people. Cared for, once again, by tired, invisible, and underappreciated hands. Sometimes by their children. Sometimes, by nursing homes, where the care-takers make a few dollars more than minimum wage.
This care-taking is work, even if it is done with love.
It’s work that is done behind the scenes.
It’s work that creates the pedestal on which the Ideal Worker stands.
Now, excuse me, the baby is crying again.