Hence the very poignant crisis of a fellow Catholic blogger mom, who also happens to be a lawyer. This is how she describes her daily life:
My children are growing up before my eyes. I am working a million hours, tied to my smartphone, and, all too often, missing the little bits of progress my children make every day on their journeys towards adulthood.I feel for her, I really do. This poor mother at the edge of sanity could easily have been me, had I stayed at the firm. Big cities are teeming with stressed mothers; her crisis is so common that it is nearly the norm in our frantic double-income society, especially in certain very demanding professions like law.
My children each spend 10-11 hours in the care of others every day. And, when I am with them, I am running at break-neck speed just to keep them fed, bathed, and healthy.
The house is always a mess, the laundry rarely done or folded. There is precious little time to read books, play games, or go to the park.
I worry over my two-year-old’s limited diet, my four-year-old’s oft overly defeatist attitude, and my failure to expose my nine-month old to as many new foods as possible; however, I have very little ability to control these things or make the changes that I think would serve them well to confront these challenges.
I’m always exhausted and, therefore, less patient and more inclined to anger or get frustrated easily, even at the slightest offense or affront.
And, although I know I want more kids, the thought of having more induces nausea and gut-wrenching stress. Moreover, is it even fair to bring another child into such an environment?
And amidst all of this chaos, I am realizing that, somewhere along the line, I have lost myself, lost track of the dreams and ambitions I had for my life, none of which included being beholden to a job or the “golden handcuffs” it has used to trap me.
Mothers are burning out from trying to fit a circle into a square. We are not well-suited to the male career trajectory or to the traditional, highly structured and inflexible workplace. We need the Lego approach - employers should present a bucket of pieces, and let the women piece them together into whatever suits them best. We need options, we need freedom to fit together our work and family in individual ways that work best for our circumstances, we need part-time work arrangements, we need so much more.
And while we are on the topic, what about fathers? Yes, they should have more options too. Families in general need more understanding in the workplace. Having a family should not be seen as a weakness or a liability. The ideal professional should not be a twisted version of a religious celibate. On the contrary, for the good of society, having a family should be viewed as a positive, it should be encouraged and enabled through flexible policies.
Otherwise, our society is burning the bridge to its own future.
Photo: BrittneyBush via photopin cc Print PDF