I decided to subscribe to Working Mother magazine recently. While I was at the website ordering the subscription, I came across an interesting poll (it is currently up on the right side of that page, though it could switch soon). The question was “When was your last ‘Me-time?'” The answer choices were yesterday, today, last week, last month, and can’t remember. I decided to answer, mostly to see the results. I got a swimming work-out in today, so “today” was my answer. Also, I’m about to go read Steinbeck on the back porch for an hour before bed. I even have a hair appointment scheduled for Saturday AM!
That’s a fair amount of Me-Time, so I was curious what other people said. Interestingly, 8% said yesterday, 9% said today, 19% said last week, 13% said last month, and 51% said “can’t remember.”
Yes, 51%. Some 51% of Working Mother magazine readers can’t remember, say, turning on the television after their kids go to bed, or reading a book, or exercising, or getting a manicure or hair cut. They can’t remember the last time they went shopping by themselves. It’s really depressing, isn’t it?
Except it’s highly unlikely to be true. I don’t know why people decide it’s somehow fun to claim that being a mom with a job involves total martyrdom, but that’s our larger cultural narrative. Maybe it makes people feel better to lament that they just have no time. But the problem is that it paints a picture for younger women that it’s impossible to have a career, kids, and a life. Why bother to try if you’ll just be miserable?
I got pregnant with Jasper at age 27 — not young in the grand scheme of things, but young among my peers — and all the ambient noise about these things was deeply disturbing to me as I awaited his arrival. It would have been nice to learn that, 5 years later as I was one week away from welcoming my third child, my career would be in a better place, I would have managed to continue exercising, and I’d even be reading literature while listening to the breeze in the trees. I’m at least trying to spread that message, and hopefully — as I start reading Working Mother more regularly — I’ll see more articles to that effect in the pages.