One of my favorite twitter feeds is GSElevator. It’s stuff people overhear in the Goldman Sachs elevator, and most of it features bad behavior that confirms it was better for me to marry a farmer than the bankers I dated before him. But sometimes there a gem like this one: ”The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence because it’s fertilized with bullshit.”
That is how I feel about women watching other women run their lives.
I am constantly wondering about other peoples’ lives. I’m fascinated by how we don’t tell each other what sucks about our life. We don’t tell our partners why we hate ourselves. We don’t tell our friends why our marriage or our job sucks.
Mostly, I have to get this information from the National Enquirer, which is one of the only places that people are honest about their lives. Not out of choice, of course. But because the honesty is worth so much money. It’s not worth money to anyone if you tell the truth. It’s worth a lot to you, of course—it’s very freeing to be honest about everything. Believe me, the criticism I got for staying with my husband after he bruised me in a fight was a small price to pay for coming clean about our problems at the time.
So here are some things I know: Giselle says she earns millions of dollars a year (posing for photos like the one up top to promote breastfeeding) but she doesn’t spend any of her earnings on her household. Instead, her husband,Tom Brady, pays for everything because Giselle wants to feel taken care of.
I get it. And I like that she admits that. Most women want to be taken care of. It’s just not possible. I want to be taken care of. Sure, I’d still do this blog and I’d still do interesting things. But I’d like having money pouring in from a source that is not me. It’s the ultimate career luxury, right?
Here’s another thing I read in the Enquirer: Jennifer Lawrence said she is getting ready to stop doing movies so she can have kids. She said she’s much more interested in having a family than a career. This is, of course, a luxury she can have because she had a career early. She’s 23 years old and she already won an Oscar.
And she’s not an aberration in Hollywood. Mila Kunis said she’d rather have a great marriage and a couple of kids than make a movie. I love how she poses it as a dichotomy. Because she’s just being honest: You can’t have a great marriage and be a great parent and have a huge career.
You know that. It’s just very few people will come out and say that to you.
Some people will tell you that such an admission is a throwback to the 1950s and it’s discouraging. That’s true.
Except for one thing: divorce law protects women today. In the 1950s, if you allowed a guy to take care of you, if you put your career aside for kids, then there was no protection for you. So women went nuts – fighting for rights, fighting for jobs, fighting for an equal right to a piece of the pie. But now women are guaranteed money to raise the kids, whether the guy stays or not.
So now that we have laws that protect kids, why do we need to choose a job over family? We can get a divorce settlement that ensures we have money. Okay, so it’s not a ton of money, but if you didn’t want to work when you were married, you probably don’t want to work when you’re single with kids, and divorce law ensures that you can pay for your kids while you’re single. (And now, for the best link ever on this topic: YungSnuggie’s comment about women being assured money for raising the kids. Scroll down the page – his comment is yellow.)
I know, there are exceptions. But most women want to cut back work to be home with kids. And most women want to put family before career. But very few women are brave enough to say that out loud.
Maybe the biggest problem in this scenario is that while cutting back work to spend time with kids presupposes you have a career you like. Which is pretty hard to pull together by your late 20s, when it’s time to start having kids. The pressure on women to have a big career before kids is extreme and something men do not experience. Most women want to have kids when they are 30, most women want to have a career when they are 30, and if they don’t have a career, they don’t have one to cut back on.
Which means there are a lot of women who simply don’t want to work. They have either proven themselves at work, or they didn’t find work they love. In either case, work is not important enough pull to them to leave the kids in daycare.
Let’s stop taking pot shots at women who don’t want to work. Let’s start respecting people who get an advanced degree and then don’t use it.
Do we ask people to commit to staying home eight hours a day with kids to justify having a family? Then why do we want people to work eight hours outside the home in order to justify getting a good education?
What I would like is for all the women to come out of the woodwork and start speaking like they are in the National Enquirer. I want the women who are breadwinners to confess if they wish they weren’t. Because every anonymous study in the world shows the vast majority don’t want to be breadwinners.
And I want the women who love being breadwinners to tell everyone some statistics:
Number of nannies.
Total cost per year for childcare.
Number of dinners per week with the kids.
Number of children’s books you have memorized from reading aloud to kids so often.
So I will lead the way. When I had a startup and two young kids in 2009 I had two full-time nannies that cost a total of $110K a year. Anyone needs that if they have a job where they travel and they have a spouse who does not want to be at their beck and call.
I ate four times a week with my kids.
I memorized about 50 children’s books. Which you might think shows that I was snuggled on the sofa reading with my kids all the time, but it really shows how easy it is to give misleading statistics.