Oh, Tina Fey, I love you! I admire you! Next to my children, you are one of my greatest inspirations!
However, regarding your most recent article in The New Yorker, I must disagree.
In your latest piece cleverly titled, “Confessions of a Juggler,” you write that the rudest question anyone can ask is not, “When do you plan to lose the baby weight?” but rather “How do you juggle it all?”
I don’t know, Tina. For me, I would much rather prefer a question that garners my insight than to have someone insinuate that I have an ass the size of Texas.
Really? That’s an offensive question?
Maybe you need a girls’ night out with my besties. On those rare occasions, when me and my parent friends can align all the planets, part the waters, WALK on water for that matter, and arrange for all of us to meet at one place, at one time without a child or spouse in tow, we get together. And drink. Maybe light up the dubage. But, most importantly, we get together and exchange notes.
On those nights, we ask, “How do you juggle it all?” which is quickly followed up with “… because I suck at it, and I think you’re doing a better job than me. Please give me some insight.”
I think the more painful question that needs to be addressed here isn’t, “How do you juggle it all?” but rather, “Why do you work?”
That one goes right to the heart. That question rips open the jugular. Blood and tears spew. It hurts! It’s more painful than tiny Legos on bare feet or a poorly aimed Nerf dart.
That’s the worst question, ever.
I’m lucky that I gave birth to my two boys when I lived in L.A. When I had my first child, my besties were awesome. They visited. They cooked. They helped and loved me when the hormones did a mind-f*** on me. Some of these women were wives of entertainment execs, some were entertainment execs, some were co-op hippy moms, some were non-moms, and some were even stay-at-home dads (i.e. comedians or musicians). I could always count on them to say “good job” if I managed to shower and put on clean underwear that week.
Then I moved to Northern Virginia (NoVA to the elitists) just outside of D.C. for a brief stint to mock the politicians. In my first week there, I developed a severe case of culture shock. Two women on their morning walk passed by my house and mentioned that another neighbor is a working mom. The response was, “She’s a working mom? She should burn in hell for that.”
Holy Mother of Working Mother Magazine! I couldn’t believe I heard that!
Two weeks later, I had a painful experience (worse than scrapbooking) of listening to another elite NoVA mom go on an insane rant about another working mom, saying that Working Mom’s children will grow up to be drug addicts and rapists.
Clearly, I wasn’t in L.A. anymore. I was living in a culture where women stayed at home, living at their children’s beck and call. On those rare occasions when I’d meet up with another working mom/comedian, we’d get that look in our eyes and blurt out, “How do you juggle it all?” It was so refreshing to exchange tips and pointers. It became our stand-up fodder. It became our bible, our mantra, and our meditations, until we’d meet again on the circuit.
Those moments gave me the strength to stand up to the biting question of “Why do you work?”
At first I would respond with,
- Because I love to work. Happy mommy, happy baby!
- Because the extra income affords us the kick-ass bouncers for the birthday parties.
- How else can I afford a house cleaner?
However, that didn’t quell the stay-at-home moms’ thirst for an argument. So then I would respond,
- Because I hate scrap-booking.
- So I can afford organic.
- All the moms are doing it now! You should try it; you might learn some social skills.
Finally, during my last year in NoVA, I grew bitter. I would just blurt out,
- I work because I know it annoys the hell out of you.
The irony, now, is that many of those moms are now working because of our current recession.
“Why do you work?” is a question that implies that moms are neglecting their children. It takes the mindset back five decades to an age where men went to work and women stayed home. If a married woman worked it wasn’t out of necessity, it was out of choice. The race for the glass ceiling was on while moms’ humming, “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar,” placed their babies in daycare facilities to stew in their diapers. The horror!
What many stay-at-home moms don’t understand is that it’s a frickin’ community. Whatever way we can raise our kids in a happy, healthy, nurturing environment, we should do it. If Mary works 10 hours a day, while her child is in daycare learning sign language and Mozart, and Kathy pops in and out all day between acting gigs, and Stephanie stays home breast feeding four children simultaneously, if all the babies are happy, what does it matter?! We’re moms. We need to work together and stop scrutinizing each other for working. Good God. It’s not like we’re snorting cocaine and pole dancing in the clubs!
Gratefully, I am now back in L.A. and surrounded by my besties who don’t care if I work or not, who give me kudos for being a good mom, and who occasionally congratulate me on bathing.
Succinctly, Tina, when someone asks you how you juggle it all, he is impressed with you and your ability to be a prominent, successful, and hard working mom. She is probably an insanely busy and tired parent looking for insight, someone like me - who adores you, considers you to be her hero, would give her left titty to hang with you for 15 minutes, and who genuinely believes that you deserve every single accolade you’ve ever won simply because you f***ing rock.
We just want to know how you do all the awesome work you do and still manage to be a great mom (i.e. you remembered to put your daughter’s library book back in her backpack!) Ms. Fey, it is nothing but sincere, it is nothing else but a compliment when we ask you, “How do you juggle it all?”
Just say, “Thank you.”