Zoom Meetings, Not Enough Coffee, and Sexism

It’s about twenty minutes to 8 o’clock. I’ve slept about 6 hours last night, not necessarily in a row, and I’m already craving a second cup of strong coffee. I’m not sure it’ll make a dent in the fatigue I’m carrying, but it’s worth a shot.

Right now I’m working remotely. Right now my children are learning remotely. Help.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

The toddlers have been shuttled off to daycare by their father. (Breakfast, diapers, potty, teeth, clothes, where are her shoes??, wait is this yours, don’t forget the check for our sitter, bye, kiss, kiss, hug, bye.) My oldest two, the teen and almost teen have been forced into the shower (just barely) and are now scrunched up behind their personal school tablets, working some Google docs (I hope) until their first Zoom meeting of the morning. My own work day starts at 9 am and I’m pretty sure my own Zoom meetings cross over school Zoom meetings. Which means I’ll have to disable video and microphone periodically to run out and fix technical glitches on the kids’ computers. I’m sure my job is thrilled. But they probably don’t mind too much as I make up for lost work by starting my day earlier than ever and ending later than ever.

Article after article after article explains how difficult this juggling is and how it impacts the careers of working moms. The literature seems to go on forever about it. Ultimately, it boils down to the sexism that exists within both parenting, relationships, and the workforce.

Complain about having to juggle everything and you’re told that it is what it is. You chose to have children and now you have to deal with having children. It’s a little infuriating.

Also, even if the response of, “Well, you wanted to have children…now you have to parent…” wasn’t soaked in sexism and judgement, I don’t know anyone who imagined this scenario. Raise of hands to show who dreamed of orchestrating a bastardized version of “homeschool” via public school during a mismanaged pandemic, while also handling everything else. Yeah, me neither.

“You’re not the only one struggling.”

“Some people are worse off.”

Also just as insulting a response. Clearly we’re all struggling. Obviously everyone’s situation is different. But other people’s struggles do not diminish the very real physical, mental, and emotional impact the current state of affairs has on parents, and especially mothers. There is no Personal Problems Olympics where people compete and the winner gets to take home the prize of Guilt-free Venting.

Throughout my years as a mother who has mostly worked out of the home, I’ve been told (especially by other mothers), “I don’t know how you do it! You make it seem so easy! You’re always so calm and collected.”

It kind of feels like being complimented on how strong of a swimmer I am while barely treading water or borderline drowning.

The truth is, and I try to explain this every time, that I’m as overwhelmed as any other mother. I don’t do anything more or less than other people in my same situation. And I also don’t know where the requirement of being the perfect picture of calm and control came from. Why is that part of the Mom’s Code of Conduct? Can leadership get together and strike through that part?

Maybe we should also stop judging ourselves so harshly. Most of the time when we see a mom who seems to have it all together, we covet her grace and multi-tasking abilities. At least, that’s what it seems like to me when people compliment my mothering. And, frankly, that’s what it is like when I see women I wish I could model myself after.

And after all that, when I pay them the same compliments, they tend to respond the way I do sometimes. “Girl, I am a mess. But thank you. I’m trying.”

And that’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? We’re all trying. We all need help. And there’s some weird unspoken rule that we’re supposed to look like we got it.

Mothering is labeled “team lift” but someone taped over it.

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