A successful lawyer working at a large D.C. firm penned a resignation letter to her employers this week and the Internet exploded. It seems she’s not just a lawyer, she’s a mom. The mom stuff is really getting in the way of the lawyer stuff, and she just can’t take it anymore. She has to give up something and clearly she can’t stop being a mom. Every time I hear another, “you can’t have it all” story – all I can think is, “no shit. We’re not superhuman.”
You can read the entire letter at the lawyer blog, Above the Law. It is basically a laundry list of tasks, that begin at 4 a.m. with a screaming baby, and end at 1:30 a.m. when she finally goes to bed. Here is an excerpt. It is what a typical day looks like before she gets to work:
4:00am: Hear baby screaming, hope I am dreaming, realize I’m not, sleep walk to nursery, give her a pacifier and put her back to sleep
4:45am: Finally get back to bed
5:30am: Alarm goes off, hit snooze
6:00am: See the shadow of a small person standing at my bedroom door, realize it is my son who has wet the bed (time to change the sheets)
6:15am: Hear baby screaming, make a bottle, turn on another excruciating episode of Backyardigans, feed baby
7:00am: Find some clean clothes for the kids, get them dressed
7:30am: Realize that I am still in my pajamas and haven’t showered, so pull hair back in a ponytail and throw on a suit
8:00am: Pile into the car, drive the kids to daycare
9:00am: finally arrive at daycare, baby spits up on suit, get kids to their classrooms, realize I have a conference call in 15 minutes
I could barely even get through reading that, it exhausted me so much. The day just gets more and more frantic and you get the feeling that this is a woman who is constantly three steps behind. Honestly, how could she not be? This particular topic of the mommy wars always sends me into a blind rage. Mothers get next to no support in the American workforce, yet they are expected to act as if the stresses of motherhood do not have a bearing on their performance. It is complete bullshit.
America is embarrassingly the only developed nation that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave. Oh, sorry – there are two others – Papa New Guinea and Swaziland. Maybe if this woman had time at home after she gave birth to nurture her baby without the fear of losing her job, she wouldn’t have been forced to throw her hands up in despair. But instead of fighting for legislation that will make it easier for moms to stay in the work force, we fight amongst each other about who is doing it right – and judge women like this one when their hands are forced.
It has become an accepted way of thinking that a woman has to forfeit her career in order to be a mom. If she had better options – paid maternity leave, daycare options, flexible hours – I really don’t think this would be the case. We make up more than half of the voting pool in this country. We need to start recognizing our strengths and having each other’s backs so we can stop dropping out of the rat-race like flies.