Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC
In a fabulously funny piece in this week’s New Yorker, actress Tina Fey dishes about her least favorite questions to field as a working mom. Topping the list: 'How do you juggle it all?' (Implied answer: horribly) 'Runner up: Are you going to have more kids?' (Answer: Crap! I can't decide!) Both annoy Fey -- and other working moms can relate no doubt -- because they knife you in the heart and get at the things that inspire greatest guilt.
Fey, for her part, can’t decide whether or not to have another child (right now she has one). Her biological clock is pounding away in her forty-year-old ears, but she knows that the whole being pregnant/having the baby thing is likely to hurt her career. She’s tortured by what-ifs and only-child guilt, and doesn’t quite know how to articulate the fact that she absolutely, positively, probably, sort of-maybe does want another child.
As a working mom myself, I have no problems answering the 'are you having any more?' question. (Nope, I’m good with two!) And the worst thing you could ask me would be: "Don’t you wish you didn’t have to work? You know, so you could be with your kids all day long?" While the clearly-implied ideal response is, "Oh what a joy and a treasure that would be!" the truth would sound more like: "Dear God! I can’t even imagine what that would be like, but I’m pretty sure somebody would end up getting hurt."
I love my kids. Adore them, in fact. I would, if not cheerfully then at least without hesitation, throw myself in front of a hungry grizzly to protect them. But uninterrupted togetherness, all day every single day? No thanks.
Beyond having no idea what I would do all day (I don’t have it in me to be one of those annoyingly fit gym-rat moms), I simply can’t imagine not having this thing, this part of my life, that engages and challenges me and more than anything else, is all mine. (Fey, who tells juggle-it-all questioners that she's working her dream job, can surely relate.)
As she so eloquently puts it, "the topic of working moms is a tap-dance recital in a minefield." I realize I’m extremely fortunate to work from home at a job I love. I get to volunteer in my kids’ classrooms and drive on their field trips. Without those luxuries—and I truly consider them luxuries—I might be singing a different tune. I certainly don’t envy parents whose kids spend more time in daycare than at home. But I also wouldn’t ask them, "Don’t you wish you didn’t have to work?"
What’s your most dreaded working-mom question? Chime in below!