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No More Lists! Ever! And No More Career for You, Bitch!

May 21st, 2007

I found this list (from six weeks ago, now) in my purse. Please, Jeebus, let our house never get infested again. (Treating lice and planning a birthday party for my sister. What a woman.)

* kitty-themed party stuff
* more candy decorations, candles, sprinkles
* 9-volt battery
* 3 bottles wine
* black trash bags
* lice combs
* Cetaphil hand lotion with lime green label

In addition to all that, I also picked up:
* a half-rack of beer, which we guzzled while my husband picked through my head for bugs, and…
* enough Easter candy and toys to make you throw up

About work…

Yes, let’s not discuss work. No, let’s! No, let’s not. Fuck this stop/start start/stop bullshit. Let’s not discuss my career that I’ve THROWN IN THE TOILET six or seven times now. Flush. Bye, career! Nice to see you again. It doesn’t work, my working outside of the home. We’ve tried to make a go of it so many times and it does not work for my family.

I work plenty inside the home. In addition to the domestic chores, the car-to-the-mechanic’s-trips, the doctor visits, the five- and seven-year-old I have to keep track of. The endless spin cycle of garden-yard-dishes-laundry-meal prep.

To keep you apprised: I am a novelist. I write freelance articles. I write short stories and scripts. None of which pays well, if at all. However, I am gun for hire. And the gig I’ve been at OUTSIDE OF THE HOME for two weeks now? It pays. And I get to use my writing skills.

It doesn’t just pay — it pays well. Benefits, union representation, A PENSION PLAN. My own desk. And coffee cup. And a bunch of those little colored scotch tape sticky notes that dear Lord, how did I live without those before? I love those. Co-workers to go out with for lunch and coffee. I’m still reading Leslie Bennetts’ The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?. Amazing book — go buy a copy. Yes, we’re giving up too much. But until we have socialized medicine, adequate pay for women, FAIR PAY for women (we still, overall, get paid less than men. Deny it all you want, it’s true); government-subsidized childcare so childcare workers are earning DECENT PAY and BENEFITS. And a pension plan, perhaps? And union representation, dare I say?

Yes, this is my fantasy. And my fantasy includes… union reps for all my friends! And flex-time, and a 37-hour workweek, and female supervisors who don’t glare at you and ask, “Can you explain these gaps in your resume?” (No, I did not flash her my nursing breasts or my stretch marks…) and a comfortable place to pump breastmilk, and no one bitching at us that we can’t take a break to pump, we just took a break to pump and DIDN’T YOU JUST HAVE A BABY? NOW YOU’RE PREGNANT AGAIN???…

…Until we have all that, or even most of that, or dammit, even some of that? Pretty please? then we’re over a barrel here. Our kids are being held hostage, basically. And what bitch is going to sacrifice her kids if she has a say in the matter? So we’re taking huge gambles, in the meantime. And no, I don’t mean, wah-wah, we’ll have to cut back to basic cable! What about my gym membership? No, I’m talking about the gamble you take as a working woman, as an educated woman, as a woman who wants to go back to school to finish up her degree but it just isn’t happening — when you’re relying on your husband to support you then you’re gambling.

Because husbands leave their wives. Fifty percent of them, last I heard. Husbands die (God forbid — I say this like second nature, it’s a nervous tic. God forbid Hockey God dies before he’s at least 94. I love him and don’t want him gone, ever), they get hurt, disabled, freak out, have nervous breakdowns, get laid off, lose their jobs. Get girlfriends who are younger and pretty. And oh, my God! She’s not bitter, like you! What a bonus.


And it’s delusional, thinking you can just jump in and out of the job market at will. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to dart my way around, but when I get my check, it’s for much less than what my co-workers who’ve stayed in the game are getting. Licenses lapse, contacts move, skills get rusty. I cannot remember how to behave in public. Offices are usually pretty quiet, for instance. This is jarring to me.

And the whole Mommy Wars? Fuck that. I mean — fuck that to infinity and beyond, Cowgirl Jessie. You think Buzz is going to take time out of his busy schedule to teach you to fly to the moon? Remember World War II? Yeah, me neither. Anyway. Rosie the Riveter — you know her. She worked her ass off while the boys were Over There. She kicked ass. Who knew women were smart enough to work machines? (Duh.)

Then the boys came back Over Here and the bosses said, “Rosie, no more work, Rosie. The boys need their jobs!” I honestly believe this — James Brown was right: “This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world.”

And I know he also says: “But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.” But he doesn’t say shit about her getting a fair shake, does he?

In spite of all this — I’m putting off work. Again. Because my husband earns about twice as much money as I do, and he’s the one who’s been steadily working, climbing, growing, while I’ve been over here growing flowers and cute little babies. Who go to school for six hours a day, and no the principal does not like the after- or before-school programs, and has told me: “I am not in the business of aftercare” on several occasions.

It doesn’t work for our lives, my working.

I’ll wait until they’re a little older, a little less wobbly (they’re still colts to me), a little more willing to turn me loose.

It’s not easy, any of this. It’s only easy because I’m not forced, like so many moms are — good moms, moms who madly love their kids — to leave my kids in sub-standard, not-quite-enough daycare situations, so they can work, so those kids can possibly eat. And have a roof over their heads. In that way, it’s easy for me, because I’m not sending a kid with a high temp to school because I can’t miss more work or I’ll get fired.

I know a lot of people have it way worse than I do. But what I’m saying is — We need to fight for rights for all of us. Because those of us who are educated, have money, are articulate, can write — we’re not doing any of our sisters any favors by not fighting for better working standards, and childcare, and equity, for all of us. Most of us are just going off to bury our heads in the sandbox. And that’s not helping anyone, in the long run.




  1. Anne says

    Thanks WM. You are so right that we have got to stop blaming or ignoring other women, we have got to start valuing all children’s lives, unite and fight for our rights!

    In the late 1970’s I had this little red handbook called “Wages for Housework”. The movement started in England, I think. Your post reminded me of that.

    I am also reminded of what a very wise woman who had been a single unmarried mom, adopted another son, and then married and had a son. She had been a full time working mother a part time working mother and a stay at home mom. She said “Motherhood: there are NO easy choices.”

    Right up there with my other favorite quote about motherhood from a mom of three who had just been spit up on and peed on “Motherhood, it’s a very damp business.”

    May 21st, 2007 | #

  2. Mallory says

    I did what so many women do and took my work home–did daycare for a while. All I can say to the rest of your post is a big f-ing AMEN.

    May 22nd, 2007 | #

  3. edj says

    Health care in America is SUCH a joke, too. What makes me laugh in a sick, cynical way is that Americans will tell you how good they have it. They have no idea.

    May 22nd, 2007 | #

  4. Ash says


    Literally could not have said it better myself.

    May 23rd, 2007 | #

  5. BlackFriend says

    My favorite boss line when I had a six month old baby with a temp of 104. “Wrap her up and bring her with you. Ineed you to collate this proposal” It was storming rain outside and I had no car.

    I said “NO!” she sent a co-worker to make sure I was really at home. Not to bring juice or children’s tylenol or anything.

    I nearly puked when she bragged to a visitor about what a family-friendly employer she was. Her suggestion to me when I suggested more family friendly policies “Get a husband” That solution doesn’t work for 70% of black women.

    Amen here too

    May 23rd, 2007 | #

  6. dew says

    God, I could identify with SO MUCH of this. I teach high school full time, and I’ll tell you, parenting two toddlers ALONE and teaching teenagers all day and trying to do both well AT THE SAME TIME almost killed me.

    Oh, and here’s my favorite boss run-in: I called to say I was taking my son to the ER with an asthma attack. He had to hear the kid trying to breathe, since I was holding him while I called, and he was like, “Well, I’ll TRY to find you a sub. I’ll SEE WHAT I CAN DO but you’re calling kind of late.” Did he seriously think I was going to say, “Oh, sorry, sure, my kid can put off requiring oxygen til after school tonight.” I MEAN WHAT THE HELL? I just said, “If you can’t find a sub, you’ll have to take my classes yourself, because I WILL NOT BE THERE.”

    May 24th, 2007 | #

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