The work of mom and its effect on community

I just read an insightful post over at been there about a group called Moms Rising. It’s a very interesting read about how there is still discrimination against women (specifically mothers) in the work place. I don’t consider myself to be a “post-feminist”–I despise labels–but, the article speaks to me. It’s discouraging to think that employers still avoid hiring mothers because they might have to adapt to the year 2007 and be more flexible in regards to work/life balance. I’ve faced this mother/work topic time and time again for over nine years.

I was an account executive for a marketing/advertising agency when I got pregnant with my first child. I loved my job, loved the whole creative atmosphere and wanted to continue working. I stayed home for six weeks (which is pathetic compared to countries like Sweden where 18 month paid leave is the norm–yes, it isn’t the US) and went back to work. Every day was a struggle to leave my sweet little boy, but I really wanted to work  and we needed the money. However, because I asked to reduce my hours, management started to take my clients away. I was slowly losing all responsibility and found myself staring at a picture of my little boy while I was at work–because I had so little work to do! 

I didn’t last too much longer at the agency because I was tired of playing Solitaire on the computer and making chains out of paperclips. I did a couple of temporary jobs and then decided that I would try to be a super-mommy. Thankfully, a year or so later we went overseas and I was able to spend time learning the language and culture–I tried to absorb everything. 

After learning the language well enough to converse like a 10 year old, I had my second child and tried to stay busy with life in Spain. I didn’t have a work permit so I did different things to keep me busy and put on my super-mommy hat again. I was so pathetic at that role that I had another child!

Unfortunately although I was a full-time mom, my children suffered a bit. I stopped writing, creating and tried to wear a hat that never fit. I put my goals and ambitions on the shelf so I could be with my children, only was barely there mentally and my children only got half of the real me (thankfully, I was split down the middle it wasn’t just the top half or bottom half).

I’m finding a balance between work and family now and am discovering how this connects with my search for community. In another post I mentioned the book Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam. The book talks about the “collapse and revival of American Community.” As I said in the post there are many contributors to the “collapse” of American Community that are cited in this book, one of them being two-income families. However, what is more interesting, is that in his research, what he also discovered, as quoted from page 201 is that:

Women who work part-time, especially those who do so by choice, volunteer more, entertain more, and visit more friends than do full-time employees or full-time homemakers…This striking fact suggest that one practical way to increase community engagement in America would be to make it easier for women (and men too) to work part-time if they wished.

So his research suggests that communities actually benefit if the mother is working part-time by choice?  I like that last statement — “we as a society need to make it easier for women to work part-time.” Would that be one step closer to more community–at least in America? What do you think?

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emily
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 15:10:29

    That is so interesting, and it rings so true to me. I know for myself, I am SO MUCH happier when I have time to work and time for family, and I’m not forced into choosing 100% of one or the other.

    And as to the offerings for mothers in other countries, I truly hope and believe that our online connections and communities are going to help us all see that families should be given greater support here. As we connect and talk, and share our stories, the world listens and people begin to change their minds about what the “norm” should or shouldn’t be.

  2. TSM-terrifically superiorily mediocre
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 16:29:23

    Wow-VERY inspiring!

    I must say that it took some time for me to “enjoy” not working again. I loved my job SO much! But being here with the kids (even though they’re way past the age of needing me like a toddler) has really helped our relationship, the kids’ development and behavior. Even their grades!

    I agree. As long as the government doesn’t get involved, ifyaknowwhatImean.

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