Geeky Mom's Been Thinking
posted by Amy

Geeky Mom's latest post about work-family balance struck a nerve with me (and inspired me to write the world's longest comment, unfortunately). For one thing, my kids have the coming Monday off school, while I still have to work. Also, the boys are having minimum days for a full week, starting in two weeks, and I'm stressing out trying to figure how I'l finish teaching my classes and pick the kids up at their two separate schools all at the same time. And don't even get me started on how my spring break is a month before theirs...

Anyway. Here's what Geeky Mom has to say:

I seriously find myself confronted with the problem of being a working mother within a culture that believes mothers shouldn't work on a nearly daily basis. Example, tomorrow is a half day. Monday is President's Day. Thankfully, I have the kind of job with tons of time I can take for whatever reason I want, so I'm taking the day off. In the past, when I haven't been so lucky, Mr. Geeky has taken on the child care. Not all families have this luxury. Sometimes both parents have jobs with little time off. Another example, Geeky Girl had homework that required her to go outside and collect weather-related things and draw pictures of them and make notes about them. She received this assignment on a Monday. It was due on Friday. Given that we don't get home until 6 p.m. every night and it's dark by then, when the hell were we supposed to complete this assignment? Oh, right, between the hours of 3 and 5, when I'm supposed to be home.

It gets tiring to fight these little things. I almost sent a note to the teacher telling her that while I thought the assignment was a good one, she might want to assign it over a weekend when those of us who work might have time to help their children complete it. I have serious issues with homework anyway that are not helped by the fact that we don't have as much time as we'd like to help with it. With NCLB and the PTA and the School Board who wants high PSSA scores, I'm not going to get very far asking for a reduction in homework or a free class period to do it in or something that might accommodate dual-income families.

Instead of fighting these things, I think, maybe I should think about part-time work or quitting altogether and staying home. Because frankly, I don't like being tired all the time and I want to raise good children and I think I could do a better job at that if I were around more. And I think that happens to a lot of women (and maybe men, too).

I think parents who stay home should be valued. The work they do is difficult and important. I'd like to see them be economically rewarded as well. But I also agree with Hirshman that society is missing out on some excellent talent because highly-educated women are not working. Unlike Hirshman, though, I don't blame the women or feminism. I blame society for not making a truly family-friendly (heck, human-friendly) work environment, for having Martha Stewart be our standard of housekeeping, and for having stupid tv shows that have large lazy men sitting around drinking beer while their svelte wives make dinner for them.