Taking good care of a family is relative

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In response to my musings about what it means to be a blogger who is just a blogger, Alexandra Levit sent me an article about bloggers who support themselves blogging. I read it twice. Then I started checking out all the blogs, trying to uncover the secret of the million-dollar blog.

Here is what I uncovered: Heather B (who is truly a wonderful writer) is cited in the article as “bringing in enough money to allow her family to live comfortably.” But it turns out that she and her husband recently participated in a study where they get injected with whooping cough so that they can get $50 and a free tetnaus shot.

I know that everyone has a different idea of living comfortably. But I happen to know the guy who wrote the article for Business 2.0 — he’s my old editor. And I’m certain that he would not be comfortable in the whooping cough study.

This reminds me of something I hate: Articles about women that focus on the dual acheivment of doing well at work and with kids. We never hear from the kids. We never see the inner workings of the household. What does it mean to do a great job with kids? It’s all relative. All self-reported. It’s all BS.

In fact, I did a followup on one of these stories. I looked up an article from Working Mother from a few years back — one of those articles about “How I successfully balance home and work.” I called the woman to find out how things are going with her business and her three school-age sons. I interviewed her and her teenage son.

I was appalled at how little time she spent with the son. And then he said he’d never want to be like his dad because his dad (Fortune 500 COO) was always at work. I couldn’t even bring myself to write about the family using their names because it was so bad. And the woman continues to believe that she’s doing a great job balancing work and family.

I put these topics in the same category: Reports about bloggers who live comfortably and women who do a good job at both work and home. It’s all subjective and relative and hearsay. Useless information.

6 replies
  1. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Your final paragraph is rather depressing (or was it the natural lead in to the following topic ;-). But there are bloggers who do very well financially (maybe not the vaccine tester, but others); and there are women past and present who have balanced work and family (maybe not perfectly, but in such a way that it has worked / does work)

    Perhaps you need to interview the grown up kids of women who worked. At the time they might have had some complaints, but in hindsight do they still resent a working mom?

    Growing up I envied many my friends whose mothers worked because they seemed to spend much more quality time with their mothers and had a much better relationship with them — there was more respect for each others space, and appreciate of each others needs.

    In their teens my friends did many more household chores than I did, but never complained. In fact, they often seemed to talk positively of “their night to cook dinner for the family” or “my turn to clean the bathroom.” I think it was part of becoming a “grown up”, which we were all so eager to do in our teens.

    My $0.02

  2. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Wendy, I think what you’re saying is: “Let’s not toss in the towel.” And believe me, I’m not. I with you. I mean, I’m sticking with my career. I just think that the discussion needs to get a lot more honest.

  3. Prashant
    Prashant says:

    Don’t mean to be nitpicking, but in the last but one para, “appauled” should have been “appalled”..

    Good article, though. I am in India, but even here, I do notice more people of my generation (X&Y cusp) looking for better personal life at the expense of not racing up the corporate ladder.

  4. lm
    lm says:

    Please revisit this Penelope. Also, I am tired of “best companies for working mothers” lists and faux feminist supervisors.

    What really matters is if one’s supervisor respects working moms in general. I have confirmed that mine, a former long-time friend, does not.

    The discussion does need to get more honest.

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