Adrienne Pine, the assistant professor who breastfed her sick baby one time during her first class of the year, has caused many reactions across the interwebs — many of them unsupportive. While her decision as a mother has prompted the predictable array of obnoxious parenting utopias, Adrienne did put her decision into a very appropriate context. One of which highlights well the parenting circumstances of many mothers, professional or otherwise.
Single mother Adrienne was interviewed on Good Morning America this morning elaborating on why she brought her sick baby to work. Upon awakening to discover that her child had a fever, Pine says:
“It wasn’t the ideal option and the fact is there was no ideal option. It was best of the options available to me.”
Adrienne’s personal observation is echoed in Maria Guido‘s recent piece, reminding us that for the vast majority of parents who can’t afford babysitters, emergency nannies, pricey cribs and organic food, there are no choices. And believe me, had this professor called the 14-year-old babysitter around the corner to watch her feverish infant for the day while she prioritized “professionalism” and went to work, there would also be mommy penance to pay. Namely if the child became so ill that the caretaker called a doctor or took the baby to emergency room. In those circumstances, we’d all be clacking our tongues about that selfish, ambitious, cold mother who dared leave her baby just so she could be greedy and attend her first day of class so as to not to risk her tenure.
If anything, this cultural chiding accurately frames the completely unrealistic worlds we expect parents (but primarily mothers) to seamlessly navigate — and without the resources to successfully to do so. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. The best position many a mother can be in at present is to choose where she wants her lashings to come from, because they’ll definitely be coming from somewhere.