Thursday, August 16, 2012

Feminism, motherhood and stressing about "having it all"

Some fascinating pieces that touched on the themes of motherhood, feminism and our relentless quest to "have it all," recently caught my eye.

Kate Slaughter's July cover story for The Atlantic on "Why Women Still Can't Have it All," really stirred a firestorm of opinion.

Slaughter, who left a position of power to take care of her two teenaged children, charges that women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. Whether you agree or not, Slaughter's article is certainly a thought-provoking read.

Another interesting story that recently appeared in the Ottawa Citizen asks whether Marissa Mayer, the super-pregnant new Yahoo! CEO, will become a role model for legions of talented women who dream of “having it all” — marriage, motherhood and professional success, or fold under the pressure, like too many other mothers who climbed higher than their families could bear.
Personally, I couldn't be more excited for Mayer, and I think it says much about how society has evolved (for the better) that a qualified, intelligent, creative and brash young-ish woman, who just happens to be hugely pregnant, has been handed such a prime opportunity.
The article also asks if she will she also be a winner in the motherhood wars. I have a feeling she doesn't really care - and so she shouldn't. She'll have her hands full enough without wondering if she's got the seal of approval from other moms out there. 
I can certainly relate. When I was about eight-and-a-half months pregnant with my daughter,
and still working in the newsroom, freelancing for the paper, and magazine editing, the paper's then-business editor approached me one day and tossed six business profile assignments in my lap - all due within three weeks. 
At the time, I wanted to embrace him, and years later, and I still adore him for doing that. Despite my gargantuan, swollen stomach, he thought enough of my ability to look past it, and treated me absolutely no differently than if he were piling assignments on a male reporter. It was so, so cool. 
And so I filed those stories, which were some of the happiest assignments I've ever done, a few days before going into labour.
Then, after delivering my daughter, deadline was approaching for the very first issue of Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine. We had a winter issue that had to be edited, designed, packaged and ready for the printer in just a few weeks' time. And it had to be good.
I admit it, I was on my BlackBerry while in my hospital bed. While I was getting acquainted with my lovely new daughter,  learning the ropes of breastfeeding and struggling to get just a few hours of sleep, I was also thinking about work.
I felt like I was pushing the limits of what most moms - and people in general - should take on, but I've always enjoyed that type of thing, actually.
It was a bit crazy, sometimes overwhelming, I was frazzled at times - but all of it got done, my baby and I fell into our own routine, and we published a fantastic inaugural issue.
Looking back, I couldn't be more proud - of the attentive and dedicated new mom I was, and of the skilled journalist and editor I was -  all at the same time!
Mayer should be equally proud. I wish her all the best. 
Meanwhile, the widespread debate about attachment parenting and whether it's the proper feminist thing to do, or just shackles us more, rages on, and the upcoming fall 2012 issue of Ottawa Parenting Times contains a most excellent feature on this - so stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment