As I was about to return to the office after the birth of my first child, a family friend pulled me aside and offered me a few words of wisdom.
Don’t show anyone pictures of your baby,” she said. “And don’t talk about not getting enough sleep. You don’t want to be one of those women.” I think by “one of those women” she meant those pesky mothers who are unwilling to pretend their child doesn’t exist between 10am and 6pm.
What was depressing, however, was that this woman’s motives were well founded. There are numerous studies showing that mothers are viewed in a negative light when it comes to the workplace.
Harvard University reported in 2007 that employers viewed mothers as at least 10 percent less committed to their companies and less capable in their roles than non-parents.
So this family friend came from a worrying place. It’s better to stay blunt and pretend the whole baby thing is an interesting trivia rather than a monumental, life-changing event.
I’m not the only parent who’s been given this kind of advice. This could explain why so many employees tend to practice “secret parenting”. This term was first coined by writer Emily Oster in an article she wrote for The Atlantic. Secret parenting involves downplaying family demands, hiding pregnancies, and minimizing any evidence that you have children.
“If work and parenting are at odds,” Oster writes, “it is because our culture tells us they are at odds—mothers and fathers feel compelled to demonstrate their commitment to one (the work side), by minimizing their concern for the other (the parental side).”
When it comes to parenting, there is often an implication
that just speaking out loud about how challenging the financial, emotional, and logistical aspects are is a kind of transgression.
Before I had kids, I remember hearing businesswomen and celebrities ask them “how do you pull it all together?”. It was treated like a blatant and borderline anti-feminist question. But when I became a mother, that’s all I wanted to know. I had so many questions; How did someone manage to leave the house? Where does all the laundry come from? Why on earth was daycare so expensive? Maybe they feed toddlers Wagyu steak and teach them Reformer Pilates?
I wanted an instruction manual on how to find my way through the whole thing. But because we were led to believe that asking others how they got through All Of This is somehow demeaning/intrusive/reductive, I hesitated. Luckily I had a little eureka moment about “the juggling” when I saw an old episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Discussing her family structure, Camille Grammer told cameras that having four nannies to look after her two children (that’s two nannies per child, one set working during the day and another set at night) helped significantly. “Aha!” I shouted. “Maybe that’s why famous people don’t want to talk about juggling – because they’re loaded and have a rotating army of Mary Poppins with them!”
It was a liberating moment. “This is hard,” I thought. “That’s tough four nannies.” For those of us who can’t afford four nannies (or even one), it’s even more important to talk about how challenging the work and having kids is.
In this newspaper, Amy Molloy asked parents about the exorbitant cost of childcare last week. Mothers spoke emotionally about having to choose between a career or having children. “I feel like 11 years of study and work is going down the drain,” said one of them. These days people are being pulled not only from gaffs but also from family units. On social media, some commented below the article that having children is a choice and parents shouldn’t seek handouts.
Demanding an affordable childcare model that doesn’t put you in the red or effectively force you to quit your job isn’t a big question. It’s definitely better to aim for than just grit your teeth and see it through.
I can’t tell you how annoying but helpful I found it to read other parents’ honest accounts of the insane cost of childcare and the need to change it. And hopefully if we keep saying this out loud instead of secretly being parents and pretending everything is okay, things will change.
As Oster says, “We cannot solve problems which we pretend do not exist; We cannot improve the number of parents at work by pretending we are not parents.”
Celebs opening up about surgical regrets could be a game changer
Hollywood starlets’ secrets used to be shrouded in mystery, but now more and more celebrities are speaking honestly about their surgery, what they did, and more importantly, what their regrets are.
Last month, Courteney Cox admitted she stopped botox after seeing a picture of herself.
“I’ve been trying to chase it [youthfulness] for years,” she says. “And I didn’t realize that I look really weird with injections and doing things to my face that I would never do now.”
And in next month’s issue Fashion Magazine model Bella Hadid says she regrets getting a nose job at the age of 14. Yes, you read that right, fourteen.
“I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors. I think I would have grown into it,” she said.
In the days after the courses were published, the New York Post ran an article in which they interviewed women who shared Bella’s regret.
They, too, had gone under the knife as teenagers and wished they had waited a little longer before changing the shape of their faces.
I know injectable and cosmetic surgeries are on the rise, but maybe Bella’s honesty will encourage some of her 50 million followers to see if they like their face before changing it forever.
The three minute secret to getting things done
vocation colleague procrastinators! A new A method has surfaced that claims to keep you from fooling around and actually sending/complete the project/shower those emails.
Psychologists say the secret to keeping yourself from faltering is to devote just three minutes to the task at hand. according to dr Jennifer Wilde of the University of Oxford will break the three-minute mark out of your “avoidance mindset” and encourage you to get on with the task at hand. If after three minutes you still don’t want to do it, you can leave knowing you gave it your all. And by “everything” I mean three minutes of your life.
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/forget-secret-parenting-we-should-be-talking-about-how-hard-it-really-is-41472345.html Forget “secret parenting” — let’s talk about how hard it really is