So, Yahoo has hired an openly pregnant woman to be its new CEO. According to news reports, Marissa Mayer intends to take a shortened maternity leave so she can fulfill her CEO duties.
This development is hailed by many, but while I support her right to work and parent as she thinks best, she's no role model to me.
I simply don't see anything feminist, or even positive, in a woman being able to achieve professionally only at the price of missing out on something as important as the early days of motherhood.
I'd have been much more impressed if she had been hired as CEO with the understanding that she would be able to take a full maternity leave and then do some kind of work-from-home part-time gig for a while as she eased back into work.
That's when we'll know women have truly arrived: when they aren't expected to deny themselves the joys, pleasures and duties of motherhood in order to fit into the working world. Someday, perhaps, the working world will value women's contributions enough to accommodate us.
This question, of course, seldom comes up for men. But it should.
While it doesn't seem to inspire press releases and Internet brouhaha, at least some of us privately feel a sense of disapproval when we hear about a man seemingly disregarding his fatherhood role in favor of his career.
While new parenthood does not affect men quite in the same way - they aren't recovering from childbirth, possibly surgical childbirth, and they aren't trying to establish breastfeeding - it's nonetheless important that they be able to take some extra time to bond with the baby and to support their wives physically and emotionally.
But then, this is a non-child-friendly culture. Oh, we give it plenty of lip service, in a sugary, sentimental sort of way. But do we offer meaningful evidence that we care about children, such as paid maternity leave? The luckiest of us get six weeks, but plenty of moms get none at all. In some countries, mothers get as much as a year off, with some percentage of their pay and their jobs guaranteed.
Motherhood, and sometimes fatherhood, is supported with all sorts of benefits in many countries. This includes countries like Germany that are doing much better economically than the U.S., so it's impossible to give any credence to the tired old claim that offering such benefits would cripple the economy.
It's unimaginable here to think of a free baby nurse coming to your home to help with the first few weeks of having a new baby, but is taken for granted in some places. Even more unimaginable to your average struggling young American family are the direct payments young families in some countries receive.
Page 2 of 2 - Here, if a women chooses to have a baby, she's choosing in large part to be on her own. We don't believe it takes a village. We believe it takes a woman willing to work herself to the bone, with negligible help from society and her workplace. If she's extremely lucky, her husband's workplace will be supportive enough for him to take extra time, too, so he can share some of the workload a tiny baby somehow creates.
Since my "baby" just turned 20, this is an issue that doesn't directly affect me anymore. And yet, it does. I hope to have grandchildren arriving in a few years, and I hope my daughter and future daughter-in-law will not feel they must return to work before they want to.
You cannot have it all. Trying to will only result in no part of your life being truly satisfying. I have personally found it works a lot better to try to have it all, but not all at once. Some seasons of my life have been dedicated more to caring for children and less to career. This season of my life, those priorities are reversed.
No, nobody ever offered me a job as CEO, but that's no big loss. My daughter recently told me she plans to raise her future children the same way I raised her. My son recently told me I've always been a good mother. That's better than being a CEO any day.
Editor Michelle Teheux may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.