• Mon, Apr 15 2013

I Was A Sanctimommy Because I Was Compensating For The Prestigious Job I Had Just Walked Away From

carinnjadeI thank my lucky stars that Blair Koenig hadn’t yet started STFU Parents when I was a new mom, because I would definitely have been a prime candidate.  When my first born was an infant I wrote Facebook statuses like:

I wish I hadn’t taken those 3pm coffee breaks for granted, now I’m a slave to the baby’s schedule!

As if I couldn’t get coffee without the permission of my newborn.

Or:

Baby’s up from his nap, time to do the alphabet again – bye Facebook!

Translation: my baby is so smart because I spend hours a day talking to him and teaching him one-on-one while your kid is being ignored by his nanny or catching a virus at daycare.

Or the worst:

I used to handle multi-million dollar deals and now I can barely handle a squirming baby trying to throw himself off his changing table while getting a new pack of wipes.

I’m sure I threw in a LOL or equally annoying acronym to deflect the anger and frustration in my tone.

I said these things not because I was trying to be a jerk, but because I had something to prove.

Before my son was born I had a big office, prestigious title, and a thriving career.  After — I was holed up in a small apartment in the dead of winter with a colic baby and a position that anyone with a uterus could achieve.  I was deflated, isolated in a neighborhood where all the mothers worked (or were really rich), and overwhelmed by tasks I was sure would come as natural as breathing to me.

So I did what I had done my whole life when I was feeling insecure: I studied.  I read every parenting book, emailed La Leche League with every question, and subscribed to every educational parenting blog I could find. When you know your stuff, you feel confident, you feel prepared.  Knowledge is power, right? That was what I needed.  Too bad I took it and went on a power trip to a destination far far away from reality.

You can reach this post's author, Carinn Jade, on twitter.
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  • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

    Awwww Carinn I love this!

  • ThisChick

    My lifelong best friend has a little one just over 1yr old (currently pregnant with her 2nd) & she is LOSING HER DAMN MIND parenting that kid! She is a SAHM & has allowed herself to fall into that same trap… obsessing over every decision regarding baby, never giving herself any “me” time, & growing every-judgier by the day when someone makes different parenting choices than her. I have 2 kiddos myself & have felt that she is looking down on my parenting style a time or two. I’m doing my best to say the right things w/o making her hate me (its getting tough!) but I am hoping the arrival of the 2nd child will help her in the same way it helped you. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      I am thankful my friends kept enough involvement to maintain our friendships, with enough distance to still like me. It definitely got better for me after the second. You sound like a great friend!

  • EmmaFromÉire

    I have to applaud you. Seriously. You recognised what was happening, and you broke that negative cycle.
    I don’t have children of my own yet, but I worry how i’ll deal with it along the line. I LOVE my field. It takes a long time to build up a successful science career, and I just don’t know what’ll happen when or even if!) I decide to have kids. I’m the type that just doesn’t cope well without constant tasks, and I thrive in the lab. This seems like what I worry about- you’re so used to being in a job where there’s always SOMETHING that must be done, that it feels almost alien when you’re spending your day with your child instead, and you pour all of that energy into extreme parenting.

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      You hit every point on the head. I know we are talking very hypothetically here but I would suggest you stay in that career. Not because feminism tells you to, not because being home isn’t important, but because the way you speak about it, the career serves you well (and on many fronts). I didn’t have the same clear feelings about commercial real estate finance law (I really didn’t love it at all, I kind of stumbled into it.). That’s just my two cents. Thank you for your encouragement!

    • EmmaFromÉire

      Thank you for yours! Honestly, this is the nicest, most supportive blog for women, let alone mothers ,i’ve been on!

    • http://www.facebook.com/valerisexton.jones Valeri Jones

      I don’t think you should have to choose between a career and a child. Obviously, that’s what Carinn did because that’s what she felt was best for her family. But I used to work in a lab also (and LOVED IT!) and there were plenty of people working long hours there that had children but still managed to climb the corporate ladder, so to speak. It definitely sounds as if you love your job, but you need to know that you can love your family as well. Sanctimommies are the ones who make people feel bad for NOT wanting to be SAHMs and guess what? We don’t like them, anyway. Good luck in whatever you decide to do!

    • EmmaFromÉire

      It’ll be a while down the line yet, but thanks for the support! I think it’s hard to get into a job you love, and when you really really love what you do, it’s hard to imagine doing something different!

  • http://twitter.com/saraklind Sara Lind

    Oh my god, I know. I was definitely a sanctimommy at first. (And maybe still am, a little?) I’ve never thought of it exactly in this way, but you are so right. I probably was mostly just trying to compensate. And I was definitely relying on “knowledge” to make me feel powerful when I was really utterly and completely lost.

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      It’s not an overnight comfort level, for me I only started to realize it once I had the second (and had to let go of so many expectations). So you are ahead of me!

  • Doogie

    ” …and a position that anyone with a uterus could achieve. ”
    If only that were true.

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      I struggled with infertility, so I know that pain. I’m sorry if that’s what you mean.

    • Imalia

      Yeah, my 15 year barren uterus would disagree, I actually found that line pretty offensive.

    • BubbleyToes

      Second this. I posess a uterus and yet will probably never be a mother.

  • http://twitter.com/Zulkey Claire Zulkey

    This really didn’t read like sanctimommy to me. Just sounds like you were working through your stuff. You’d be a sanctimommy if your statuses included derision towards people who didn’t follow the same path you did.

  • Avodah

    Odd, most of the people I know who work in biglaw went to very good schools (Yale, UChicago, Harvard, Duke). They usually leave their jobs to go in-house somewhere. Didn’t you go to Fordham?

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