Thank you, Megan Fox.
June 25, 2014|Posted in: Parenting
Thank you, Megan Fox.
These are words that I never thought I would write, let alone think.
In a recent interview with Parents magazine, Megan Fox, who is now the mama of two young boys under the age of 2, said, “…it’s so hard to be a working mom especially when your heart is not in your work, when your heart is with your family. I have to make one movie a year because I have to invest in their future and I have to be able to pay their way through college and be able to provide for them.”
“Especially when your heart is not in your work,” she says. Amen, sister.
Now, granted, her salary for making “just one movie a year” is probably the equivalent of 143 of our combined salaries here at the family homestead, but still. I am just shocked – SHOCKED – that Megan Fox and I have something in common, aside from our shared sex-symbol status, fabulous figures and love of Brian Austin Green (Oh, how I miss you, 90210).
As some of you know, I walked away from my career as a teacher two years ago. I physically and emotionally could not handle the strain and stress of trying to be a mother and a high school English teacher at the same time. I felt weak. Unsteady. Unfocused. These are typically not adjectives I would use to describe myself, but I found myself using them on a pretty regular basis, and I knew something had to change.
When I left my job – after months and months of neurotic, can-we-can’t-we-I-think-we-can list-making — I was not attempting to add fuel to the “mommy war” fire. I FULLY support and am quite impressed by women and men who can balance both. Despite this, I lost a few friends over my decision. They gave me the “well, if that’s what you have to do” line, and our friendships simply…petered out, as if my surrendered membership to the Working Mom Club of America voided all of the relationships I’d cultivated over the years.
Two years later, I still get tsk-tsk’d when I run into former colleagues at the grocery store:
“How could you leave a TEACHING job?”
“Well, you could always go back when she goes to Kindergarten. You are planning to go back, right? Right?”
On the flip side, I also received and continue to receive plenty of support. Yes, I have friends who thought I was slightly deranged for walking away from a job with a guaranteed income and excellent benefits, but they understood my needs, wished me luck, stayed in touch, and continue to be my biggest supporters and cheerleaders as I carve my path as a working writer. And without the unwavering support of my overworked, beloved husband, this never would have been possible. He kept telling me we could make it work, and we did.
Interestingly enough, around the same time the Ms. Fox article appeared, President Obama, at the White House Working Families Summit last week, called attention to the fact that the United States is the ONLY developed country in the world without paid maternity leave. And he also addressed the fact that many working parents are downright miserable because they’re not even allotted a few hours here and there for THINGS THAT MATTER. A LOT.
“Take flexibility — the ability to take a few hours off for a school play or to work from home when your kid is sick,” he said. “Most workers want it, but not enough of them have it — even though studies show that flexibility makes workers happier and helps companies lower turnover and raise productivity.”
Say what you will about the man’s politics – but this point should hit home for everyone who spends time as a working parent.
In this country, we keep piling on more work for less pay, leaving parents frazzled, exhausted and spent. How are we supposed to raise our little ones to be productive citizens if parents can only afford to spend two hours a day nurturing them? If they’re so frazzled by the time they get home that they find it easier to slap McDonald’s on the table than prepare a healthy meal? If they’re too tired at the end of the day to read bedtime stories, sing songs, or pack lunches? Other countries have figured this out…why can’t the U.S.?
And bloody hell — if Megan Fox, with her arsenal of nannies, house cleaners, and chefs can’t even handle it, how are the rest of us mere mortals supposed to?