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A Working Woman’s Paradox

I think and talk so much about being a “working mom” and “work/life balance” that I’m bored of it. Mr. Beez and I had the rare opportunity to grab a workday lunch together on Monday, and I asked him “you’re working all the time, and bouncing around with things at home, how are you not complaining about being burned out?” It turns out he is. Just as much as me. He just keeps his big mouth shut.

I admit it—sometimes I’m jealous of stay at home moms. You can chat my ear off all day about how hard it is to be a parent and keep a house, but it still demands minimal accountability. You don’t get fired for being a mediocre parent or having mountains of unwashed laundry. There’s a lot of stuff to do in keeping a house, but you can spend a day on the couch if you want to. Working involves external accountability. It involves risk. It involves prioritizing and balancing and playing politics. It is hard. Maybe not with all jobs, not every job is hard. But being a litigator is hard. It involves all those things at rapid pace and in an unpredictable environment.

I am thrilled that issues of work-life balance have come to the forefront, and employers and employees alike are focusing on how workers can thrive in the office while also being satisfied in their personal lives. We’re talking about this struggle, and it shows me that I’m not a special snowflake after all. I’m tired of my pity party about how hard it is to do the juggle. And every time I read a new response to something Ann-Marie Slaughter or Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer has said or done, I realize that the work-life struggle is not unique. Not in the least. And if everyone is having the same difficult time, well there really isn’t much to whine there about is there?

Today on Hello Ladies, I read through this infographic.

As I scrolled down, more and more things rang true. Yes, I agree that women often are less likely to take breaks during the workday (It took years for me to convince myself that, as the guys in the office have demonstrated, it really IS ok to go to the gym for a bit during the workday).

But then I hit the bottom portion:
47% of working moms say they would be happier if they didn’t work.
36% of working moms say they resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home with the baby/kids.

I’m sickened by the idea of an entitlement to stay home. If we are to achieve any real balance between the sexes, we need to stop this farcical argument that keeping a house is equally demanding (and beneficial to the family unit) as staying home. Not every person needs to work—income and family responsibilities can be divided in all kinds of different ways. But the idea that women resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home is abhorrent.

So I’m saying it: The idea that women have some birthright to not work and tend to the children and home is absurd and antiquated. And buying into the idea that women somehow deserve to not work undermines the value of those in the workplace who do.

Dear ladies: GET A JOB.
And quit complaining.