I intuitively knew to hide my kids when I started having them, because I had already had a rip-roaring career where I steered clear of women who doted on their kids. (It’s always women, even today.) The kids were annoying to me. I couldn’t understand why the women would lose focus on their jobs to get stupid about their kids.
I made sure to stay in male-dominated departments so as to not get sucked into the kid thing by proximity.
Even with all my precautions, my editor suggested that instead of writing a workplace column I should write a women’s column.
That suggestion pissed me off — but I just vowed to hide my kids more.
I have written many posts about how important it is for gay people to come out of the closet at work. They earn more money, for one thing, because if you are your true self at work people like you more, and likable people earn more money. But of course this does not apply to women with kids. There is no grand study that says if you are your true self you make more money. There are only studies that say women’s true selves are working part time while they have kids.
On my blog, for years, advertisers paid to reach people at work, so I had to be careful to steer clear of parenting topics. Professionals have been harder to find online than moms, so I get paid more money to separate myself from moms.
Did you ever notice how much art is on this blog? Like this and this? It’s because I’m scared to put too many pictures of my kids here. Maybe someone is counting and there’s a tipping point when advertisers will banish me to the world of mom blogs.
And did you see that photo of that New York City elevator shaft up top? It’s a secret museum. Heres’ the inside:
I like that I found a photo of a hidden museum to use as a way to hide my motherhood on a post that most obviously should have a photo of me and my kids. If Italio Calvino is getting credit for the deconstructionism of the realist novel, then I want credit for the deconstruction of the realist blog post.
But it gets old, trying to hide that I’m a mom. And trying to hide that I’m torn between work and kids. It’s clear to me now that I’ve been having a five-year identity crisis while I pretended to write about my own career as if it’s not affected by my kids.
I’m done with that. But I still get nervous doing anything kid-related in a business setting. Even if someone else is talking about kids, I stay quiet.
He sent this one.
And I thought, “Wow, that is a really terrible photo,” so I asked for a non-headshot-y one.
Then he sent me this one of him and his kids:
And I immediately liked him. I like him better with his kids. I respect him more for what I know he’s having to manage at work and at home to write a book, have a job, and take care of kids. Here, he looks more vulnerable and more real. And I think probably I look that way, too, when I let people really see me.
The biggest barrier to homeschooling is not that parents don’t get it. They get it. Parents are not stupid. They know school is sucking and they know their kids would rather be at home doing stuff they love. But parents are scared of devaluing themselves by becoming the person at work who lets their kids take over their life.
We don’t value that. Which sets up childhood and adulthood as competing interests. Parents cannot have fulfilling (career-based) adulthoods if they are affording their kids a charmed (home-based) childhood.
If we can start celebrating parents when we see them at work, we’ll all feel more able to make choices that are true to us at our core, and not just true to our desire to conform to historic icons of power at work. After all, the only alternative to being true to ourselves is to feel like a human version of that museum: boring and outdated on the outside, but vibrant and alive inside, with almost no one seeing or even knowing what’s there.