Moms in a Positive Light

Finally, a national publication has published an article about motherhood that I cannot attack for any reason: The New Mommy Track, which ran in U.S. News and World Report's Sept. 3 issue. The cover showed a happy mom (gasp) holding an equally happy-looking baby. The subtitle read: "More mothers are finding smart ways to blend work and family. How you can, too."

Astonishingly, there was no guilt, negative innuendo, infuriating quotes, cherry-picked statistics, mixed messages, or hidden agendas. Instead the article was filled with realistic, practical advice from believable working and at-home mothers, and every statistic rang true. (At least to me.)

Such as:

* A new generation of American mothers are rejecting the "superwoman" image as well as the "soccer mom" stereotype.
* The happiest moms are negotiating flexible schedules at work and fuller participation of fathers at home.
* Women are rejecting the traditional rules of the working game that men follow.
* Sixty percent of working moms say part-time work is the ideal model.
* Some mothers who don't have access to flexibility at work decide it's impossible to combine motherhood and work; these women take breaks from work to focus on family; many plan to return when the time is right.
* A growing number of mothers feel self-employment is the key to combining work and motherhood.
* Lesser educated and lower income women have fewer options for flexibility and part-time work.
* More and more mothers are succeeding at "having it all" without losing control of their lives.

So the question for today is: Why have I been able to find only one unbiased, objective article about balancing work and family in a national publication in the past two years? Why do most publications seem to have an ax to grind about whether working or staying at home is superior?

Clearly, some publications think that when it comes to motherhood, controversy and judgment catch readers' attention. But there's more to it. My hunch is that many of us covering this subject are too close for objectivity. As this blog has shown, nearly everyone across the country has a strong opinion about the "right" way to balance working and raising kids. I have to say, it sure was nice to read something nonjudgmental for a change. What's your take?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 17, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
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Perhaps the most notable data point in the article was that 31% of firms now allow employees to work at-home or off-site on a regular basis.

I currently work primarily from the home -- as do nearly all of the 20+ people I manage. My guess is that most work well over 40 hours per week -- but that it doesn't feel as stressful given the flexibility to better integrate it with their family life.

Frankly, with high-speed Internet, cheap computing, fax/printer/scanner/copier devices, and blackberries, it's much more productive to set up home offices.

Posted by: columbia_md | September 17, 2007 7:56 AM

Success without struggle tends to be boring...

Posted by: chittybangbang | September 17, 2007 8:30 AM

While I would agree that the working vs SAH mom aspect is nonjudgmental, I think the article has other issues. The subtitle still talks about hubbies "helping" at home, so the idea is still there that the home is the mother/wife's primary responsibility. The article also speaks of women rejecting the "supermom" image. But then it talks about the lawyer mom getting up really early to work a couple of hours before the kids get up and another couple of hours after they go to bed. How is that not "supermom?" Or the woman who has her own business where she works 80 hours but at least she can take her child to work with her when the nanny calls in sick. Maybe the article wins a few points for not glorifying either WOH or SAH mom as superior, but it's got other issues. And considering the subtitle is "More mothers win flextime at work, and hubbies' help (really!) at home," these "hubbies" are hardly mentioned.

Posted by: rockvillemom | September 17, 2007 8:33 AM

this blerg is still here? jesus christ dump it already.

Posted by: obblehit | September 17, 2007 8:34 AM

The press is biased because it likes to make waves, not because it believes or supports a lifestyle. It's all about buzz and attention and cash. No one talks about a fair, balanced article, except maybe the fringes, who can't get along with anyone who's not the same as they are.

Check out the post from the end of Friday's blog. I'm afraid she's disagrees with the notion that women should work AT ALL. I apologize for my grammatic nightmare following it.

Posted by: atb2 | September 17, 2007 8:55 AM

I don't know. I looked at the numbers listed and one of the moms who's taking it easy works EIGHTY HOURS A WEEK at her job, while the other, a mere slacker, works only FIFTY FIVE hours a week. (That's still eleven hours a day, not including the commute on the days she does go to the office.)

Does this mean that the bakery owner's child normally spends 80 hours a week with the nanny -- unless the nanny's sick, and then he or she gets hauled into work with mom? That's more than ten hours a day, every day including weekends. I can't believe that such a situation really benefits the mom or the child. Even if the children were school-aged and spent approximately 30 of those hours in school, that would still be 50 hours a week in daycare. Doesn't that violate some kind of pediatric guideline?

This is "balance"? how? exactly?

Posted by: justlurking | September 17, 2007 9:17 AM

Dear Ms. Steiner,

In the process of googling my name to see if another article of mine had been printed in a different newspaper than the Post, I came across your "On Balance" blog and the comments concerning my article, titled "The Case To Stay Home" in the Washington Post. My article referred to Ms. Amy Joyce's piece, "How to Handle The Return" from May 13, 2007, about women returning to work after having children. First, I would like to make clear that I appreciate your supportive comments concerning my letter, especially as regards to the slant of the media in favor of mothers who work outside the home, and then I would like to comment on some of the posted remarks which I read. In as far as there were 312 comments altogether, I did not attempt to read them all, neither do I expect to do this in the future if another letter of mine is published. However, I would like to respond to some of the general ideas that were set forth in several of the postings.

One theme which I noted was that there were other full-time moms like myself who agreed with my assessment that the media represents almost exclusively the interests of parents who work outside the home. One notable exception to this trend I believe, which one blogger mentioned, was the Oprah Winfrey Show, in which Ms. Winfrey makes clear her admiration for full-time parents. I also agree with a male blogger ("father of four") who mentioned that the public school system often serves as free childcare nowadays, which caters to the wants or needs of parents who work outside the home.

Another theme which I recognized was the belief that somehow I was being judgmental for my opinion that it is better for children to be raised primarily by a mother or father, rather than a daycare provider or other childcare worker. Sorry, I do not believe it is judgmental to have a firm opinion about an issue, as long as no derogatory words are used to describe people with opposite viewpoints. In the same way, while I do not agree with Ms. Leslie Bennetts, the author of The Feminine Mistake, as far as I think it is a bigger mistake to miss out on so much of your child's life if you can afford, maybe with some financial discipline, to be there during the workweek while your child is growing up, I would not describe Ms. Bennetts as judgmental, but rather that she has a different viewpoint than my own. Throughout our lives, we are constantly making decisions on major issues, like abortion or about lifestyle choices, and it isn't just because we think our decisions are better just for us. Many times we think a certain way of doing things or conducting our lives is the best way, or we wouldn't have chosen it. This strength of conviction doesn't make a person judgmental; rather, it just reflects an individual's belief in which course of action is the best. When we vote for the President of the United States, for example, we vote for who we think would make the best choices for everyone in our country, from the issues of abortion, to health care, to education, or to foreign policy. When we exercise our responsibility as citizens and vote, we are not being judgmental, yet we are judging according to our opinions, what is best for all of us.

Finally, another point of view, which I noticed was that I must be wealthy. In truth, I do not understand how a person could make that judgment without knowing me at all. A mother does not need to be wealthy in order to be home raising her children full-time; while the statistic currently quoted has the percentage of mothers who must work outside the home at 70% or 75% in Maryland, I question these numbers simply because it is hard to separate wants from needs, especially nowadays, when the standard of living is much higher than it was 30 years ago. While granted there are parents who have no choice but to work outside the home due to financial considerations, I do believe that there are working parents who could afford to be home raising their children during the day if they were willing to scale back their standard of living at least during their twenties and thirties.

My husband and I may be more comfortable financially than at the start of our marriage, but this is after years of financial sacrifices, and we are now closing in on the big 50. We moved from the lower level of another family's house, to an apartment, then a small rancher with one bathroom, and finally a modest colonial. We managed to make do with one car for nearly fifteen years of our twenty-two year marriage, at least 15 years of which I have not worked outside the home, and were willing to forego many luxuries, including fancy vacations and weekly restaurant meals. In short, the assumption should not be made that a couple is wealthy simply due to the fact that they have only one member in the outside workforce. Yes, a certain income is required simply to subsist on one salary; however, not all stay-at-home mothers are rich, anymore than all mothers who work outside the home have to work.

In short, I appreciate your interest in my article, as shown on your blog after the printing of my letter in May, and I also appreciate your open-mindedness in considering the viewpoint of both full-time moms and moms who work outside the home. While I, of course, did not enjoy reading negative comments about my letter, I realize that it's always best to be exposed to all sides of an issue, and it's wonderful that in our country we are so free to express our viewpoints. In that vein, I respect and appreciate both your comments concerning my letter and those of the individuals who posted comments on your "On Balance" blog.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Wolff

Posted by: msgtww | September 17, 2007 9:21 AM

"Clearly, some publications think that when it comes to motherhood, controversy and judgment catch readers' attention."

You could easily re-write your statement without the "when it comes to motherhood" part. It's the nature of the business. I also think you could replace "think that" with "know that".

And just to prove that point, I'm off to read all that I can about O.J. God Bless his murdering little soul!

Posted by: bababooey668 | September 17, 2007 9:26 AM

Just thought I'd point out that the author, Kimberly Palmer, is a local girl. Holton Arms class of late 1990 something... I don't remember exactly. Good job, Kimberly!

Posted by: KTedrow | September 17, 2007 9:27 AM

atb

"Check out the post from the end of Friday's blog. I'm afraid she's disagrees with the notion that women should work AT ALL."

I also picked up that vibe. The author's smug, self-righteous attitude was a big turn-off.

Posted by: chittybangbang | September 17, 2007 9:27 AM

And, speaking of O.J., how about a column about how difficult it must be to "balance" killing the mother of your children while still maintaining a high-quality golf game???

Posted by: bababooey668 | September 17, 2007 9:30 AM

Ms. Wolff:
I don't recall your letter from May but I would note that while you take some time to protest the notion that you are judgmental for having an opinion, I don't agree with your characterization. Certainly one may possess an opinion without passing judgment on another who has a different opinion, but you take it one step further.

With comments like:

"I do believe that there are working parents who could afford to be home raising their children during the day if they were willing to scale back their standard of living at least during their twenties and thirties"

you are judging others who do not scale back their lives according to some standard you have set in your head to be home with their kids during the workday. You are saying that people SHOULD do this. That's a judgment.

Posted by: robyn98 | September 17, 2007 9:32 AM

ummmm, atb and chitty, the post from Friday was reposted today 10 minutes ago. It isn't a vibe...she says herself it is better to stay home and exhibit what she calls financial discipline. What she neglects to do is say it is better *for her*. Her global judgement is merely her opinion and nothing more.

I agree with those saying the press tries to make waves or even create news. There is not much unbiased because it doesn't suit their business model.

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 17, 2007 9:35 AM

* Women are rejecting the traditional rules of the working game that men follow.
* Sixty percent of working moms say part-time work is the ideal model.

If you think this sort of statistical slant is good for women, you aren't really thinking. Those in hiring positions will read these cherry-picked statistics and use them to reject hiring of women for any role of significant professional or managerial responsibility. Thanks - Not.

Balance would be discussing how many men reject the "rules of the working game" as you put it, and telling us what percentage of men say working part-time is the ideal. I'd guess it would be at least the same 60% because, really, what's not to love about the CONCEPT of working less -- assuming no decrease in standard of living, savings, financial security, etc.? As soon as you discuss this topic in a gender-limiting vacuum, you give support to those who believe a potential woman employee is a waste of organizational energy.

Posted by: gcoward | September 17, 2007 9:35 AM

I don't think this article is unbalanced. All the "mompreneurs" have businesses revolving around kid stuff. Couldn't they find women who don't think about kids 24/7? And there is no mention of fathers. I'm getting mightily sick of the focus always being on how WOMEN manage work and home. How about an article about how two-income parents make time for their work, themselves, each other and the kids? That would be balanced.

Posted by: l52105 | September 17, 2007 9:45 AM

Off topic about Friday's Topic, the On Balance Song Parody Contest.

Leslie can I enter a song that I have previously posted?

(today's song comes from Cat Steven's Wild World. Look for it about lunch time! Or don't look!)

Posted by: Songster | September 17, 2007 9:54 AM

"Couldn't they find women who don't think about kids 24/7?"

Well, that would be women who don't have children, and the article was about balance. Granted, 24/7 is stretching it a bit, but certainly women who have children must make decisions with them in mind. Or that would be neglect, wouldn't it?

I loved this article. Finally, something positive!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 17, 2007 9:55 AM

"While granted there are parents who have no choice but to work outside the home due to financial considerations, I do believe that there are working parents who could afford to be home raising their children during the day if they were willing to scale back their standard of living at least during their twenties and thirties."

Yeah - my twenties and thirties - those would be the days when unemployment hit a high of 10.8%, several major industries were offshored, and we had education debt out the wazoo compared to the $10 per hour we were earning. Scaling back my standard of living would have meant replacing my brake pads 16 months after I needed them, instead of only 7 months after I needed them. Assumptions, assumptions, lady. You know what they say.

Posted by: gcoward | September 17, 2007 9:56 AM

Ms. Wolff AKA Dumb Bunny>

"One notable exception to this trend I believe, which one blogger mentioned, was the Oprah Winfrey Show, in which Ms. Winfrey makes clear her admiration for full-time parents."

The stamp of approval from Oprah (former cocaine user & mistress of a married man) is worth bubkis.

Was your husband a "part-time parent" when you were a SAHM?

Posted by: chittybangbang | September 17, 2007 9:59 AM

I must admit that when I did NOT have kids. I thought day care was shuffling off your responsibility on others. As with many things after HAVING kids, my mind has changed. At day care, my kids play with their friends, learn to be in a group, follow directions and learn something every day. I am a man, so the guilt part of daycare really doesn't strike a nerve with me like it does with women.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 10:02 AM

Ah, the myth that with a little belt tightening and someone can stay at home. If it were as simple as one car and not eating out weekly, which is the reality for even those of us with 2 parents working. You're an idiot.

Posted by: atb | September 17, 2007 08:50 AM

this appropriate response to Ms. Wolff's self-serving regurgitation (posted twice so none of us could miss her say how non-judgmental she is as she engages in all of her self-righteous, uninformed fingerpointing) should not be missed.

Posted by: gcoward | September 17, 2007 10:27 AM

"Ms. Wolff AKA Dumb Bunny>"

Things like this remind me of one of my favorite segments of "The Daily Show", called "You're Not Helping".

Jon Stewart shows some person or group of people who, while well-intentioned, take some action that doesn't particularly help the situation, because they primarily succeed in drawing the attention away from that they were protesting and on to their own behavior.

Last week's segment showed a small group of people from something called "Code Pink" who continually disrupted the Petraeus testimony in Congress until they were removed from the room, thus enabling Congresspeople to grandstand* about the behavior of the protesters and deflect the attention away from what's actually happening in the Middle East.

Stewart ends the segment by looking intently at the camera and saying "You're not &)*() helping."

Well, prefacing comments disagreeing with Ms. Wolff's position with personal insults, as above, aren't helping. They're just making the poster look bad and deflecting attention from the topic at hand.

*(Not that Senators and Representatives need any excuse to grandstand, as evidenced by the marvelous footage of Sen. Boxer expounding so much in her question that she used up more than the entire time allotted to her and never did get to ask an actual question! I'm sure it would have been a good one, though. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 17, 2007 10:29 AM


Two comments for Ms. Wolff;

1) You are absolutely judgemental about other's choices. It is not only that you have chosen your lifestyle for yourself, you think everyone else should make the same choice. You imply in your letter that many people in their twenties and thirties could make (really, should make) the same choice as you if they would only make sacrifices like you did; i.e. not taking "fancy vacations," or eating out. Here's the Mother of the Year award for you, and a gold star for your husband too.

This attitude ignores so many things; work isn't only for a paycheck (health insurance, life insurance, retirement savings), some people believe they are better parents when they don't spend 24/7 with their children, "standards of living" (your nice way of saying all the youngins' and their greed) have changed but so has the cost of living etc....

I am glad that your choices have worked out well *for you*. Why can't you leave it at that, and accept that other people living other lives may make different choices and be equally happy and successful with them.

2) Everyone who is a parent (mothers and yes, even those oft forgotten, frequently overlooked DNA donors we call fathers) is a full time parent. Whether one works at a paying job or works out of their home every parent is a full time parent and to suggest otherwise is offensive and calculatedly antagonistic. I am a full time mother all day every day to my daughter whether I am currently in her physical presence or not, and her caregivers when I am physically away from her are not her parents. I suggest that you know this is inflammatory and use this language to get your point accross. This reveals alot about the type of person you are. I believe that you are not as comfortable with the choices you've made in life as you write because I don't think you'd be spending your time cramming them down other's throats if you were.

Posted by: chrismar | September 17, 2007 10:30 AM

I'm with you, gcoward and l52105. It's not very balanced to make a statement based on the "Mom as parent first and worker second and Dad as worker first and parent second" stereotype.

All this article really does is undermine fathers' attempts at balance in the workplace and undermine mothers' attempts to be taken seriously in the workplace.

A balanced article would be about parents shifting work goals and sharing housework to find balance.

Posted by: Meesh | September 17, 2007 10:33 AM

pATRICK - fyi, I'm a woman and I've never felt guilt about daycare. Though before having kids, I never even thought about daycare issues, much less considered it 'shuffling off responsibilities.'

I admire any woman who does what she believes is right for her in her situation and then does not stridently admonish others to do as they do. Proselytizing always reduces my admiration.

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 17, 2007 10:33 AM

Dotted, I agree. well said.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 10:45 AM

I can't wait to tell my husband when he gets home tonight that all we have to do is sell one of our cars, cut pack on our pizza consumption and stop going home to Ohio to visit family. Yeah, it's so easy, why didn't I think of this before?

Now, how will I pay for the student loans, health insurance, food, continuing education (oh, wait I don't need that I am a girl), etc, etc. I also guess I will fly my kids to the doctor by flapping my arms really hard, I hope they can both fit on my back.

Of course this is a joke because there is no way I am cutting back on my pizza.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 10:45 AM

scarry - I read you as flapping angel wings...of course

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 17, 2007 10:53 AM

scarry - I read you as flapping angel wings...of course

Of course they would be angel wings!


dotted my MIL was stuck in the suburbs or should I say out in the country with no car. I think it lead somewhat to her abusive behavior. Now, if I lived in a city with public transportation, I wouldn't need my car, but I do not. I can't imagine having to depend on other people to get where I need to go or to get my kids where they need to go. We lived in a town, so at least we could walk to the doctor, store, gas station, etc.

I shouldn't be so snarky, but you know everyone's life does not need to be the same to be worthwhile and good.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 10:58 AM

Why is it that the only justification for being a working mom has to be financial???

People like Ms. Wolff just assume that it HAS to be about money or else why would any woman in her right mind choose to work instead of being home 24/7 with her child.

Well, I work primarily because I ENJOY IT. Of course, it is nice to have my paycheck and the quality of life that comes with it (blah blah blah), but at the end of the day, I want to work because I need that balance in my life.

I know lots of women don't have such a choice, and I respect them all the more, but it bothers me that some many people think that "making ends meet" is the only justification for why a women should work. I am a full-time mom, whether I work or not. I am a dedicated and loving mom, whether I work or not. In short, the label "working" does not define me as a mother.

This attitude that because I choose to work I am somehow not doing what is best for my children really irritates me.

Many women choose to stay home and that is great for them. But don't justify your choices by implying that those who choose differently are somehow doing a disservice to our children.

IMO - that is the definition of "judgmental."

Posted by: londonmom | September 17, 2007 11:02 AM

Thank you londonmom!

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 11:04 AM

Run for your life Jennifer! The long knives are out! By the end of the day there won' be a single piece of flesh left on you. ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 11:07 AM

I think that something is missing in this conversation. Living. I love my kids but I have no plan to barely subsist with 15 year old cars, no eating out, no enjoyment of life. There is a balance and totally sacrificing your life for your kids is UNREASONABLE.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 11:15 AM

pATRICK, I completely agree with your latest post. I'm sure that my husband and I could afford to have kids on one salary. But who wants to be one car accident or water leak away from foreclosure, or one long hospital stay away from moving in with your parents? I have seen what it's like to have a negative checking account balance on pay day. I went to college to avoid that kind of life. I would not choose to struggle when I don't have to. Especially if you have to choose between your child's yearly check-up and your own.

Posted by: Meesh | September 17, 2007 11:24 AM

"People like Ms. Wolff just assume that it HAS to be about money or else why would any woman in her right mind choose to work instead of being home 24/7 with her child."

Re-reading her posting it doesn't appear that she is making this statement at all. She points out that many others claim that most women must work outside the home for purely financial reasons. She then argues that while this is true in some cases, she does not believe it to be prevalent. Her argument is based on scaling back one's standard of living.

"This attitude that because I choose to work I am somehow not doing what is best for my children really irritates me."

I work out 1-2 times a week and eat moderately nutritious meals [ok, a little heavy on bacon -- but it is so darn good]. My neighbor is a dietitian - she eats extremely healthy food and exercises daily. It is *very likely* that her focus on fitness and nutrition will positively influence her children more so than mine will influence my children. In short, objectively, she is doing 'what is best' for her children in this area more so than me. I like to think that I have other redeeming qualities -- but in this specific instance she is 'right' in her opinion and behavior.

Even knowing this, however, I'm not really going to change. I have too many other things going on [including a lot of work hours that bring in a nice salary that pay for fun family vacations and a high standard of living] that I ENJOY.

Enabling one parent to stay at home full time with a young child is probably in the same category as nutrition and exercise -- there are degrees of 'healthy' and just because both parents work doesn't immediately yield a 'bad' situation for a child. But that shouldn't blind us to recognizing what is generally optimal with respect to the health of children.


Posted by: columbia_md | September 17, 2007 11:28 AM

As Meredith O'Brien points out in her recent wwww.mommytrackd.com post, "[w]hile the U.S. News pieces were, on balance, positive about the fact that women are starting to gain traction when it comes to taking control over their lives, creating their own rules when it comes to career and family, when viewed alongside the New York Times article and that pesky little statistic about only 3 percent of companies allowing telecommuting, it's difficult not to acknowledge that we've still got a very long way to go."

Posted by: amykeroes | September 17, 2007 11:30 AM

"I think that something is missing in this conversation. Living. I love my kids but I have no plan to barely subsist with 15 year old cars, no eating out, no enjoyment of life. There is a balance and totally sacrificing your life for your kids is UNREASONABLE."

I manage a group of 20+ professionals [all but 3 male]. All make well over $100K/year. None have spouses who are full-time employed [a handful have spouses who work <10 hours / week]. In general, they have risen to the top in large part because their spouse manages their household / family allowing them to focus their work time on work.

In each case, this has likely enabled them to achieve a higher household income than if both spouses were employed.

Find any large firm and look at the top 25 executives. I'm willing to bet at least 20 have non-employed spouses.

Posted by: columbia_md | September 17, 2007 11:35 AM

That's right. I'm really holding back my husband since I'm doing such a terrible job at keeping the house clean, keeping myself presentible for company functions, and throwing MAAAVelous parties. Oh wait, he's a physical therapist at the top of a field that just doesn't pay that well.

And, BTW, where's the balance there? I'd rather my middle class PT husband work as little as possible so he can get to know his daughter! So not the life I'm after.

Posted by: atb2 | September 17, 2007 11:39 AM

In each case, this has likely enabled them to achieve a higher household income than if both spouses were employed.

Frankly, I think this is BS. You have people who really are career driven and women who are more than happy NOT to work and if hubby is gone all the time so be it. I see this all the time down here.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 11:44 AM

You have people who really are career driven and women who are more than happy NOT to work and if hubby is gone all the time so be it.

Absolutely - they have the pool boy to keep them happy while the kids are off at school.

Posted by: gutlesswonder3 | September 17, 2007 11:46 AM

2nd part- They don't have employed wives because they are married to the firm. I read about Ken Lewis (CEO BANK OF AMEICA). Seems in his rise to the top, he was asked by the then CEO, when can you get down to (some city)?, he said as soon as i get off the phone. He then said, he found a place to live and THEN told his wife they were moving. Oh joy, what tenderness and balance they must have shared with that kind of mentality. I plan on warning my daughter about these kind of men.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 11:48 AM

gutlesswonder3 - at least put a smiley face or something so readers can understand your humour/sarcasm. Otherwise, reading it straight makes you seem judgemental

pATRICK - maybe the Lewis family agreed they would move for his career. By the way, this happens all the time in the military so be careful of painting such a broad brush.

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 17, 2007 11:50 AM

columbia_md, while I don't doubt that what you're saying is true about your company, my gut reaction is that that's gotta be a statistical outlier. I just know too many professional people who are at the top of their companies with working spouses. In my own company, going off the top of my head, of the 23 people at the level of VP or above, I can only think of 5 with non-working spouses. Three are currently not married (two divorced, one widowed), but the rest all have working spouses.

Now, there are two additional questions that could be asked, and I don't know the answers to them (I know these people, but not that well :-)

- for how many of them is this still the first marriage? e.g., how many achieved career success at the cost of a first marriage, then re-married someone with a comparable job/position in life?
- how many of those married couples don't have kids?

Yes, it's about "balance", and it takes a lot to rise that high in a large company. It clearly used to take a "couple" working together to manage the social side as well as the pure business side, but I just don't see that much any more.

(Maybe some time with google later on to see if there are any hard statistics on this, rather than just anecdotes.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 17, 2007 11:52 AM

dotted_1,
;-)

Posted by: gutlesswonder3 | September 17, 2007 11:52 AM

pATRICK - maybe the Lewis family agreed they would move for his career. By the way, this happens all the time in the military so be careful of painting such a broad brush.

You missed the point, I bet if SHE had said hell no, I am not moving, he would have divorced her. People on upper level management track, care about two things, their career and themselves. That is why I plan on warning my daughter about these types. When you marry for money, you earn every nickel unfortunately.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 11:55 AM

Ummm...Bill Clinton ring a bell? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure he managed to become President of the United States all the while Hillary worked. When Bill was elected as Govenor, most of her work was of a public/civil service nature, but she worked nonetheless.

But aside from that, I think there probably is some truth to the fact that men with SAH wives can focus more on their careers. But I'm not so sure that is always such a great thing.

Is it better to have one spouse always traveling/working and one spouse at home, or two working spouses who both have agreed to sacrifice some (but not their entire careers) in order to raise their children equally?

The answer for me is definitely the latter, but I can understand those who disagree. And there are probably some professions where there isn't much of a choice (doctors for one).

Posted by: londonmom | September 17, 2007 12:07 PM

Sperm donors. Are these men working their fingers to the bone so their wives can stay at home as they live to the edge of their paychecks happy with the situation? Are they interested in parenting? Are they convinced that being home with their mother is better for kids than going to daycare and having a father? Is their marriage strong/ do they find time for each other? This does not sound like a good life, especially for dad.

Posted by: atb2 | September 17, 2007 12:08 PM

When you marry for money, you earn every nickel unfortunately.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 11:55 AM

pATRICK, I'm with you on your several messages along these lines. We both work, in part, because we don't want either of our souls to be owned by our employers. As a result, we are free to reject or accept relocation "offers" and we can sleep even when his sector of the economy is slumping. I wonder how all those single-income families dependent on employment with Countrywide and other mortgage companies are doing right about now?

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 12:14 PM

My son once made a complaint about going to daycare and not having a parent at home like his friends. I then listed all the things we would have to give up for me to stay home (and since we live a modest lifestyle, these were things like movies and DQ, not boats and big screen TVs). He said he would rather have me working.

Sure, we could have afforded for me to stay home, but I married a man in the crappy-paying not-for-profit business. We would have had to give up a lot. Not that I wasn't willing to do it, but my hubby wasn't. And he was probably right. We would have been one disaster away from missing a house payment had I stayed home. Now we have no debt and a comfortable retirement fund. We both can work normal hours too because we aren't trying to climb the corporate ladder. Neither one of us wanted to sacrifice time with our son so that one of us could make it big.

And I agree with the poster who said children shouldn't always come first. When they get into the real world, do you think they will come first? Our culture is much too child-centered now. So many of us had crappy childhoods that now we've gone too far in the other direction. God forbid a child doesn't come first in 21st-century America. This mentality is ridiculous. The child should fit into the family, not the other way around.

Posted by: czetajones | September 17, 2007 12:19 PM

Yes, it's about "balance", and it takes a lot to rise that high in a large company. It clearly used to take a "couple" working together to manage the social side as well as the pure business side, but I just don't see that much any more.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 17, 2007 11:52 AM

ArmyBrat, I agree. I see an ever-dwindling group of senior executives making decisions to acquire services or forge joint development relationships based on social relationships, and very few spouses forced to hostess wonderful parties for the benefit of their hubbies. It happens, but it's become more of a mid-major phenomenon than Fortune 100 phenomenon. OTOH, I attend a great many part-social, mostly networking events to which spouses are welcome but few attend, and no one expects them to attend. Many professionals understand that no one wants to get a sitter only to be treated as the trailing spouse at some dreadful ABA, trade association or chamber of commerce function. OTOH, the ability to chit-chat on the golf course continues to be important for business development, moreso the higher you climb.

I don't doubt that, when one's employer has a need, he does not want to hear that you can't jump through the necessary hoops that evening because tonight is back-to-school night, but that's a topic for a different day.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 12:25 PM

Let's all sing along to that Cat Steven's song Wild World:

Lalalalalala...

Now that I've blogged something to you
You say you wanna start a website too
And it's breakin' my heart you're leavin'
Baby, I'm not believin'
But if you wanna write, take good care
Hope you have a lot of nice things to say
But keep it mild as nice things turn bad out there

CHORUS:
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild web
It's hard to get by without getting flamed
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild web
and always remember not to SHOUT, girl

You know I've seen a lot of pictures of you
And it's breakin' my heart in two
Because you want to post THAT pix of you, girl
Don't be a bad girl
But if you wanna post it, take good care
Cuz you'll make a lot of "friends" out there
But just remember there's a lot of bad and beware

CHORUS

Posted by: Songster | September 17, 2007 12:28 PM

"Frankly, I think this is BS. You have people who really are career driven and women who are more than happy NOT to work and if hubby is gone all the time so be it. I see this all the time down here."

All of us work primarily out of the home -- travel is moderately common but not excessive [1-2 CONUS trips per month lasting 1-2 days each]. No uber achievers here -- but all of them are pretty much available evenings and weekends if needed for quick telecon or to respond to email. If I needed all of them to travel to DC tomorrow, all of them would pretty much be able to make it -- and in the course of the year that may happen 1-2 times. But when it happens, it happens.


Posted by: columbia_md | September 17, 2007 12:30 PM

Songster, great job on one of my favorite songs. As I recall, some people around these parts have difficulty getting past Cat's current worldview in order to appreciate his old hits. Get ready to duck!

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 12:32 PM

"columbia_md, while I don't doubt that what you're saying is true about your company, my gut reaction is that that's gotta be a statistical outlier. I just know too many professional people who are at the top of their companies with working spouses. In my own company, going off the top of my head, of the 23 people at the level of VP or above, I can only think of 5 with non-working spouses. Three are currently not married (two divorced, one widowed), but the rest all have working spouses."

Did a quick web check and couldn't find any hard numbers. I'm basing on two large-scale integrators and current small [200 person] software firm worked in the last decade -- and it has been the same in all three. Would be interesting if it was coincidental [or if it is an more prevalent in specific sectors].

Posted by: columbia_md | September 17, 2007 12:32 PM

All of us work primarily out of the home -- travel is moderately common but not excessive [1-2 CONUS trips per month lasting 1-2 days each]. No uber achievers here -- but all of them are pretty much available evenings and weekends if needed for quick telecon or to respond to email. If I needed all of them to travel to DC tomorrow, all of them would pretty much be able to make it -- and in the course of the year that may happen 1-2 times. But when it happens, it happens.

Posted by: columbia_md | September 17, 2007 12:30 PM

columbia, what's your point? I don't see twice a year travel and availability nights and weekends by crackberry being any sort of problem for two-career couples in my firm or with my clients who come from a variety of industries. I mean, none. That's pretty much the cost of being employed at all. OTOH, people who travel for several weeks at a time, multiple times during the year, whether or not the sole wage earner, frequently have difficulty keeping their marriages together and often, sadly, lose touch with their kids lives.

The backdoor man is most often local, after all, LOL. He's usually the guy who screwed up his first marriage with his uber-commitment to his job and sees a good woman with two nice kids - one of whom has a killer fastball and would benefit from one-on-one coaching - left lonely.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 12:37 PM

agree with whoever said that we are way to childcentric in our culture.

Having a kid is the be all and end all these days, as seen by multiple things in our society (a friend of mine just told me about something she heard on NPR where in the NY metro area, the 'fourth child' is the new must have accessory).

Generations grew up (granted in different times) without all this focus on them and they lived fine. I'm not saying I don't want to spend time with my kids, I do, but this all kids all the time focus is a little bit strange. Seems to me that might end up with them living with you at 30 (ack!).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 17, 2007 12:45 PM

"columbia, what's your point? I don't see twice a year travel and availability nights and weekends by crackberry being any sort of problem for two-career couples in my firm or with my clients who come from a variety of industries. I mean, none."

It's actually twice a month travel -- and typically only 24-48 hours notice.

My point is that as an employer I'm really looking for [and willing to pay a premium for] people who can be focused and available when I need them to be. That doesn't mean some all-consuming, no-time-for-family thing -- but it means that they generally need to have a spouse who can manage the household schedule even when they need to get called away at the last minute.

I've typically found [in well over 80% of the cases] that these people do not have spouses employed full-time if there are children.

Posted by: columbia_md | September 17, 2007 12:47 PM

MINNEAPOLIS -- "Where's the bathroom?"

That's the question camera-toting tourists in Minneapolis are asking as they visit the men's room where U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, was arrested in a sex sting.

"It's become a tourist attraction," said Karen Evans, information specialist at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. "People are taking pictures."


BWAAAAAA!Is this a great country or what? "Hon, where should we go this year? The world's biggest ball of yarn or the stall where Craig got busted? Let's go to Minneapolis, it's lovely this time of year and besides I want to get one of those ' I HAVE A WIDESTANCE" tshirts for mom.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 12:48 PM

Anecdotally, it seems that typically executive men have a SAHwife, while women who climb to the top seem to be single. At least as I've noticed, and I think it may be changing....but...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 17, 2007 12:49 PM

"a friend of mine just told me about something she heard on NPR where in the NY metro area, the 'fourth child' is the new must have accessory"

It's not green, but it sure shows off how much money you make!

"they generally need to have a spouse who can manage the household schedule even when they need to get called away at the last minute."

This isn't as hard as you think it is. You set up your life knowing this may happen. Why do we always forget that single moms can do all of this?

Posted by: atb2 | September 17, 2007 12:51 PM

You know I always have to laugh whenever I see broad generalizations such as Ms. Wolff's in regard to how people spend their money i.e. eating out, taking vacations. How do you know that couples don't already have their budgets as tight as possible? As others have pointed out there are more reasons to work other than a vacation, how about health insurance and retirement savings?

And for those that support her comments I would be really curious as to how you do it. Saying you cut costs isn't specific. What is the actual income of your working spouse, when did you buy your home and what is the mortgage payment, do you actually have a savings account, what types of consumer debt do you have, do you have student loans, are you preparing to save for your child's education etc etc.

I would truly love to hear from someone who began staying home with their children in say the last 3 years and how they make it work - maybe they are in debt up to their eyeballs but for them that is a sacrifice they are willing to make. Otherwise using your experience from the 80's and 90's and trying to apply to today's costs doesn't work. Also its clearly easy to say that if you marry at 22 and have children right away its easier to have a spouse stay at home when you figure in daycare costs. But if you have children at 30+ it is very possible your income is no longer entry level pay.

Posted by: noname1 | September 17, 2007 12:54 PM

Anecdotally, it seems that typically executive men have a SAHwife, while women who climb to the top seem to be single. At least as I've noticed, and I think it may be changing....but...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 17, 2007 12:49 PM

Maybe it depends on the industry, atlmom. I don't encounter anyone single, unless recently divorced, at the top of my industry or those we serve. I agree that, more often than not, women at the top have stay-at-home or self-employed spouses.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 1:05 PM

Well, thank you MN. I have a hard time getting past that some people consider anything by KC and the Sunshine band is real music. How does that old saying go? KC is laughing all the way to the bank!

Posted by: Songster | September 17, 2007 1:06 PM

Songster, then what about KISS? Talk about laughing all the way to the bank? BTW, I could care less about KISS, but they did make a lot of money and sell millions of albums.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 1:09 PM

noname1- I've been asking for this for over a year. Noone will pony up.

Posted by: atb2 | September 17, 2007 1:27 PM

pATRICK, I know you are a Texan, but are you aware that it wouldn't have to be a choice? The Largest Ball of Twine made by one man is not terribly far from the infamous bathroom. It also turns out that we have a fair amount of bridge collapse tourism going on these days, too. There are fun things to do in Minneapolis that aren't disasters or odd curiosities...

Posted by: mlsm01 | September 17, 2007 1:30 PM

Just back from jury duty. Thank god they didn't want me! Medical malpractice case.

Forgive me if I'm foggy headed here. Took Sudafed last night for a cold, not realizing what a stimulant it is. ZERO SLEEP. I'm sure another sleepless night will really help me get better..

Catching up here. Really thought provoking discussion. Agreed that life cannot be all about your kids -- but I also think that as families have gotten smaller and many women have delayed childbearing, being rabidly kid-focused at least for a dozen years or so seems fairly normal.

And I appreciate Jennifer Wolff's response. Must have been pretty weird to Google yourself and then find a whole 300+ comments about something you wrote six months ago. Brave of her to come on board. Hey, she's entitled to her opinions.

And go Kimberly Palmer! Lucky for US News and World Report that they hired her.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 17, 2007 1:32 PM

...being rabidly kid-focused at least for a dozen years or so seems fairly normal.

Only if you are interested in raising the next "it's all about me" generation.

Posted by: gutlesswonder3 | September 17, 2007 1:34 PM

atb - its easier to throw stones when you don't have anything to back it up with right? :)

Posted by: noname1 | September 17, 2007 1:34 PM

pAT,

Agree with you on kiss and most heavy metal bands.

Haven't been too many honest musicians since Hank Williams died. (How does a 29 yr old man who was definitely on the skinny side die of "acute right ventricular dilatation?")

Posted by: Songster | September 17, 2007 1:36 PM

There are fun things to do in Minneapolis that aren't disasters or odd curiosities


Well, I have been dying to see that statue of Mary Tyler Moore or perhaps a giant octopus................

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 1:47 PM

"I would truly love to hear from someone who began staying home with their children in say the last 3 years and how they make it work - maybe they are in debt up to their eyeballs but for them that is a sacrifice they are willing to make."

Well I actually am on both sides of the fence here.

We did the combination of saving and expense reduction so that I could stay home (without pizza, seriously), over about 10 years though.

We pretty much have always lived mostly on the higher of our two salaries and saved or invested the rest in some way. Sometimes we have spent the other salary on stuff like cell phones, vacations, and other ethereal crap, but we have always kept our -basic- expenses to that one salary.

So, I was able to stay home with my son.

I ended up working part time (my work asked and I was kind of chomping at the bit) and so we were able to do some things - vacations, primarily, and retirement stuff - that we wouldn't have done.

To do the savings/lifestyle arrangment did take years. Our first house was a dive in a not very great (but liveable) neighbourhood, and the first thing we did was fix up a basement apartment (legal in that area) to help pay for the renovations which then took... 6 years of chaos. We had a certain element of luck in that because we read the market correctly and ended up taking $180k out of it (on an original downpayment of $20k, but reno costs on top of that - again, funded by renting) to apply to our next house, which has reduced our mortgage payments there considerably... and keeps us able to cover our basic expenses on one salary.

Neither of us had student loans, which also helped.

We also didn't have a car for years and live pretty simply a lot of the time. (Needing a car to SAHM was probably the biggest financial surpise there; I thought I would have all this -time- to get around on the bus with my angelic cherub, but once the reality of how important naps are hit home, I got a car so a ten minute trip would take ten minutes, not 25 min with a wait at a transfer point... in the rain. And are cars ever major money-sucks.)

BUT even though we pretty much maintained our float during the 2 years I was home, I went back to work full time last month. I was not enjoying being mommy-tracked. I adore my son immensely but I was worrying a LOT about not just money but being off the salary grid, away from the industry - and I was getting unhappy.

FOR ME part time work often meant the -worst- of both worlds and not the best. So we found a care situation we think we are happy with (we had a harder time finding excellent part time childcare) and I am back this month heading up a new media channel and it is wildly exciting and I'm happier.

Ironically of course, the cost of commuting, clothes, convenience stuff, and daycare means my disposable income is around where it was when I worked part time - but I am immeasurably happier.

I figured out the hours I would miss with my son and it is considerable, but some of those - lunch, nap, and even some of the morning time - were hours I was missing already due to playgroups and (soon) preschool and things. My husband and I have swung our hours so that our son has a 6.5 hr day in care and gets one-on-one time with us on each side of the day.

The last choice has really surprised me. I was very happy we had positioned ourselves so well, but I could see where my mental state was going and it was going in the "martyred" direction. My husband, a former workaholic, has REALLY stepped up to the plate and reduced his hours.

Anyways that's my tale to add to the fray. I do think it is possible for some (not all) people to live on one salary, if they plan for a long time (like we maximized our retirement savings early on, which helps a lot - compound interest and all that; we got into the RE market early). But it is not the whole picture even then, as londonmom pointed out.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | September 17, 2007 1:49 PM

gutlesswonder3

"...being rabidly kid-focused at least for a dozen years or so seems fairly normal."

A lot of divorces are filed during these "rabidly kid-focused years".

Posted by: chittybangbang | September 17, 2007 1:50 PM

Oh I should say my husband's top salary has been $80k, with about $20k in overtime possible in some (two) years on top of that; my top salary has been $60k.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | September 17, 2007 1:51 PM

And PPS (sorry) - it was ten+ years of savings before having our son, not ten years of staying home with him. I was at home for 2 years after that.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | September 17, 2007 1:53 PM

noname1, how recent do you want? Is quitting in 1997/going back to work full time in 2005 okay?

I'm certainly not going to disclose numbers - those fall under "MYOB" - but DW was a Fed who, because of numerous reorganizations/job description changes/political fights grew to hate her job. Given that we had four kids at the time, we calculated her take-home pay after day care/commuting costs/other work-related costs at about $3.50 per hour. Not enough for a job you hate.

She quit and became a SAHM. I quit my Fed job a couple of years later (for other reasons) and took a job in private industry. The pay was somewhere between 10% and 80% higher - I won't be more specific than that.

I spent a substantial part of my life on the road - as in, every two months, fly to Hong Kong and use it as a base to travel Asia/Pacific. Plus, go to the mothership in Toronto at least twice a month, and do whatever other travel was needed. Yes, with 4 kids that would probably have been impossible if DW was working full time. As it was, three years was all I could take because that was killing my family life. I quit that job and found one that I like just as much, pays better, and doesn't require the travel.

Again, no personal details, except that I will say that I now make more than ever would have been possible if I were a Fed, and that's only because DW was a SAHM - I wouldn't be where I am now without her.

DW went back to work full time, this time in the school system, in 2005. (She had worked part-time off and on during the intervening years.) The kids are old enough (oldest is in college, youngest is 11) that daycare's not an issue, nor is it necessary to lose an entire day's work with a sick child (plus I can work from home pretty much any time I want to).

The bottom line is that having either parent WOH or SAH can often be done; the choices are up to the couple involved; neither is universally "right" or "wrong." It's what's right for you as a couple and a family.

And I'm sorry if I offend anyone with this, but I will say that while they're young, my children are the most important things in my life. Period. I take jobs based on the impact upon them and the ability to interact with them.

I quit the previous job because I got tired of trying to help with math homework from Hong Kong or Sydney or Toronto. I took this job because it left me the flexibility to help them with their homework, coach their sports teams, go to their concerts, and be there to guide them. I won't give that up; for me it's non-negotiable.

That DOESN'T mean I'm going to be a helicopter parent all their lives. They have their responsibilities and expectations, and they'll have to live up to them. As they get older, they get more freedom, but they still have to do what's expected. When oldest DD turned 18, graduated from high school, and went off to college, the rules changed. When she's at home, living in our house, she lives by our rules. But when she's at college, we go by the credo, "we raised her right; now she's got to show she can live right."


Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 17, 2007 1:59 PM

Thank you Shandra!

Posted by: noname1 | September 17, 2007 2:02 PM

had a great post, got eaten:
but , here ya go:

Well, getting married at 22 and having kids is great, but what if you're then 30 with 2 or 3 kids, divorced, and a dusty resume? Then where are you? So sometimes it's opportunity costs, not just day care costs, for working.

Yes, I was home until 2 years ago, didn't go back for the money, but for the choices. I.e., my DH wants to start his own company and we wouldn't do that if there wasn't an income, so there ya go. I wanted to go back to work, too, so don't get me wrong.

But he just got this great job, great raise, when he wasn't even looking, really - he went to an interview, but really was planning on quitting then starting his own company, and I think cause he was so laid back, and not trying to overimpress, that's why he got the job. But he's there now - we'll see how long he stays, we're finding out corp. life might not be his strong suit.
But it's less stress on either of us, when we're both working.

It was tough to make it on one salary, but doable. I do spend money now on stuff I never did when i wasn't working (i.e., made my own tomato sauce, things like that), but I felt guilty spending anything (that was totally me, not DH). But I wanted to have more - not feel guilty for eating out every once in a while, or buying the kids clothes that were new and not consignment, etc. It was incredibly tough, and since we couldn't afford a house in my neighborhood at the moment, had we not bought when we did, we would be living elsewhere (no matter that we're two income).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 17, 2007 2:04 PM

Save the songs for Friday's On Balance parody contest! Hope everyone has started writing. You CAN rerun previous songs but I can't promise you will win any prizes.

The thing that is good about having three kids is that even though I am rapidly kid-focused my focus gets spread around them.

And I think most divorces happen after the kid-obsessions pass, when people actually have the time and energy to realize they are unhappy and get divorced.

But I do agree with the basic premise that if you focus only on kids, and ignore your marriage, that's not a great formula for longterm wedded bliss.

I also think that kids really crave a happy marriage for their parents, so if you neglect your marriage you put a strange, unwelcome burden on your children.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 17, 2007 2:10 PM

and (I think for the third or fourth time)MN:

I was thinking more of fortune 500 companies rather than lawyer or CPA firms.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 17, 2007 2:12 PM

(How does a 29 yr old man who was definitely on the skinny side die of "acute right ventricular dilatation?")


My guess would be the booze.

I'm going keep drinking until I'm something.... Is that the line from tear in my beer? My aunt had tickets to the show he was on the way to when he died.

My favorite country singer is Toby Keith.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 2:19 PM

ArmyBrat - I really enjoyed your (lengthy) diatribe. Especially the part about kids coming first and your gratitude for a SAHW. Nothing wrong with either -- as you outlined them, just sounds like good sane parenting.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 17, 2007 2:32 PM

About Hank's death. But I understand that there were no traces of alcohol or illicit drugs found! (we will just forget that pesky little fact that no tests were run for anything like that!)

Posted by: Songster | September 17, 2007 2:35 PM

atlmom: "Anecdotally, it seems that typically executive men have a SAHwife, while women who climb to the top seem to be single. At least as I've noticed, and I think it may be changing....but..."

Okay, these are just a few datapoints, but there was another boring conference call wasting my time, so:

Fortune's list of the 50 most powerful women in business for 2006 included these 10 at the top:

1. Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo - married, two children
2. Anne Mulcahy, Chairman and CEO, Xerox - married, two children
3. Meg Whitman, eBay - married, two children
4. Pat Woertz, ADM - married, three children
5. Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods - married (no info available about kids)
6. Brenda Barnes, Sara Lee - Married, three children. Interesting quote: "Brenda Barnes shocked the business world in 1998 when she left PepsiCo to spend more time with her family."
7. Andrea Jung, Avon - divorced, two children
8. Oprah Winfrey, Harpo Inc. - unmarried
9. Sallie Krawcheck, Citigroup - married, two children
10. Susan Arnold, P&G - (couldn't find any info; had to respond to a question on the conference call :-)

I have to admit to being somewhat surprised myself; almost all of these women are or have been married and have multiple kids. Add to them other businesswomen who are now out of power - Carly Fiorina, Pattie Dunn - and it seems that marriage and kids are common factors.

Then politics - other than Barbara Mikulski, are ANY of the women in Congress - either party, either house - unmarried? I'm not aware of any, but there might be some.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 17, 2007 2:43 PM

Army brat: thanks for that.

I think times they are a'changing...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 17, 2007 2:46 PM

and (I think for the third or fourth time)MN:

I was thinking more of fortune 500 companies rather than lawyer or CPA firms.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 17, 2007 02:12 PM

atl, Our clients are telecom, technology, traditional manufacturing, PR agencies, real estate, small and large pharma businesses. That's why I mentioned them. My anecdotal observations square with the data Army Brat posted above. In fact, what I think would be almost impossible, absent a trust fund or two, would be raising kids as a single parent and rising to the top of the corporate ladder.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 2:58 PM

And I appreciate Jennifer Wolff's response. Must have been pretty weird to Google yourself and then find a whole 300+ comments about something you wrote six months ago. Brave of her to come on board. Hey, she's entitled to her opinions.

Posted by: leslie | September 17, 2007 01:32 PM

Bravery would have been shown by participating in a two-way conversation. I fail to see what's brave about constructing a 6-paragraph diatribe reiterating her opinion and posting it once on Friday and once today - just to make sure no one missed her attempt at having the last word. Then she scurries away rather than engage in any honest debate. What is brave about that?

I've never had much patience for the, "she's entitled to her opinion" line as an excuse for spreading intolerance and ignorance. She's entitled to express her opinion. She's not entitled to agreement or respect for the substance of her opinion. None of us are.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 3:02 PM

MN, do you think people like her really believe they operate in a vacuum? A big pet peeve of mine is people who act as if they are really surprised anyone would dare question them. She seems like that sort.I worked at abank that was aquired, a woman came in with vague answers and a haughty tone. My group savaged her with very direct questions and she was incredulous that we were so impertinent. It ws very entertaining. The funniest part were people asking if they did NOT want to work there what kind of package they would receive. She acted as if she tought we would all be sniveling twerps grateful for the chance to be there. I left with a nice package and those 'LUCKY' sould left behind, were fired 6 months later.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 3:11 PM

Leslie- my response to your questions are to ask you in return- I don't know, why don't YOU write more articles like that? You seem to have as inside a track as anyone, with all the opportunities you could ask for.

So if YOU aren't doing it, why should anyone else?

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | September 17, 2007 3:11 PM

sorry for the typos

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 3:12 PM

Yes, pATRICK. If you treat questions and dialogue as impertinent and rude, then you can cover up the fact that you've never considered an alternative approach or the concerns of others. It's the same operating theory behind holding a press conference and then refusing to take any questions. When I see that sort of behavior, I think "desparately insecure" and "didn't think through the implications of that proposal" rather than, "man, we what a fabulous idea. We should all get behind her/him!", LOL. Whenever an employer wants gratitude, I know it's time to update the ol' resume.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/25/AR2007052501911.html

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 3:17 PM

sorry for not explaining - that's the link to Jennifer's original letter to the editor. It bears re-reading in light of the considerably more imperious tone she took Friday and today.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 3:18 PM

Ms. Wolff wrote: "While granted there are parents who have no choice but to work outside the home due to financial considerations, I do believe that there are working parents who could afford to be home raising their children during the day if they were willing to scale back their standard of living at least during their twenties and thirties."

The REALITY between staying at home and not staying at home is totally financial. If the finances are not that big of a problem, then it becomes a CHOICE. For those who are able to "scale back their standard of living" as Ms. Wolff says means they must have had some financial wiggle room to work with -- like foregoing the yearly vacation and eating out weekly at a restaurant. For the rest of us who are one paycheck away from the boat tipping over, scaling back our standard of living probably would mean no phone or no gas for the car we're praying will not break down because we cannot afford another car payment, or something of the sort. The differences in the definition of "scaling back" between the varying income levels means different things to different people. It is the snooty, judgmental way some SAH moms say "well, mothers need to make sacrifices so they can be at home with their children" that tick me off.

Posted by: winjonnic | September 17, 2007 3:21 PM

"It bears re-reading in light of the considerably more imperious tone she took Friday and today."

Hmmm, what a choice: do I prefer the condescending and patronizing tone of the first letter, or the imperious and judgmental tone of today's? Ahh, decisions, decisions.

Posted by: laura33 | September 17, 2007 3:25 PM

MN,I knew you would understand and I suspect you would have enjoyed watching her squirm as much as I did.....

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 3:28 PM

pATRICK, I do think that some people live in a vacumn. I am just glad that I am not one of them and got to see all parts of the country and the people who live within in it.

Oh, I just talked with my husband and he declined to give up pizza either, so he said I am just going to have to keep working.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 3:41 PM

IG, yep, I may be able to endure a 15 year old car, but give up pizza? No way! ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 3:45 PM

It's so sad to pATRICK because we don't even have good pizza here. Everything is a chain. We have been eating Papa Murphy's, but it is not my favorite.

Now, we are overloaded with BBQ.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 3:48 PM

"Now, we are overloaded with BBQ."

Is there such a thing? Isn't that like too much sex or too much money?

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 4:03 PM

ummmmm...bbq (said in homer simpson voice)

don't we all have to make sacrifices? What strikes me are those people assuming they should have everything all the time, whenever they want. Everything (whether job, commute, others, etc.) is subservient to their needs/wants. Very toddler-esque...(a toddler can't tell the difference between a want and a need)

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 17, 2007 4:05 PM

haha, MN we have only had the dry rub, which isn't our favorite. I have had trouble eating spicy things lately, so we haven't been out much.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 4:05 PM


"Now, we are overloaded with BBQ."

Is there such a thing? Isn't that like too much sex or too much money?

_________________

Depends on the type of barbeque. I may be roasted myself for saying this, but I'm not a huge fan of NC-style BBQ. It's finally gotten to the point where I can eat it and it's okay, but I could certainly have too much of it.

Texas-style, however, is a different matter - especially the kind with the dry rub! That I could have for every meal and not complain.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 17, 2007 4:06 PM

I am in KC army brat. They say this is the best BBQ anywhere.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 4:10 PM

". . . made my own tomato sauce, things like that),"

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 17, 2007 02:04 PM

"Oh, I just talked with my husband and he declined to give up pizza either, so he said I am just going to have to keep working."

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 03:41 PM

We got this contraption to peel tomatoes so we could make our own tomato sauce, but it was too much of a pain in the neck to use and then to clean afterwards, so we stuck with store-bought sauce. However, we did make our own tortillas using masa harina and a metal tortilla press that I bought on West 14th Street. And we made our own pizza. It was a collaborative effort, with one kid slicing Mozzarella cheese from the 5-pound block we would get at the dairy store, another kid spreading the tomato sauce on the crust, and one of us adding the anchovies.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | September 17, 2007 4:13 PM

I am having the inlaws over this week and we are smoking some babyback ribs again. HMM, hmm umm!

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 4:14 PM

"I got a car so a ten minute trip would take ten minutes, not 25 min with a wait at a transfer point... in the rain."

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | September 17, 2007 01:49 PM

Let's hope the environmental wackos who want all of us to switch to public transportation read what Shanda Lemarath has written. Believe me, I grew up in a family without a car, and she is right. I remember coming home from dates at 1 AM: a 20-minute wait for the crosstown bus, then another 20-minute wait at the transfer point at the Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine, for the north-south bus. Including actual riding time, a trip of less than four miles took over an hour. And this was in the greatest city in the country, where public transportation runs 24 hours a day.

You can build your pedestrian-friendly communities, where people crowd into apartments within two blocks of the Silver Spring Metro station, but don't expect me or my children to give up our green suburban homes and garages to come live there. With a car, a ten-minute trip takes ten minutes. Well put, Shandra!

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | September 17, 2007 4:15 PM

"It's become a tourist attraction," said Karen Evans, information specialist at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. "People are taking pictures."

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 12:48 PM

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from Jim Walker, when he took over as conductor of the Band. He told us that if we are recording, the microphone picks up every sound, and if we're playing a live concert, the audience can hear every sound. So, "don't ever tap your feet."

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | September 17, 2007 4:16 PM

"What is the actual income of your working spouse, when did you buy your home and what is the mortgage payment, do you actually have a savings account, what types of consumer debt do you have, do you have student loans, are you preparing to save for your child's education etc etc."

Posted by: noname1 | September 17, 2007 12:54 PM

"noname1- I've been asking for this for over a year. Noone will pony up."

Posted by: atb | September 17, 2007 01:27 PM

Well, yeah, no one will pony up. Why not ask for my Social Security number, too, and the security code on the back of my credit card?

As for telecommuting -- beware! If you can do your job by remote control from your home, someone else can do your job by remote control from his home in Bangalore, India, for $120 a week.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | September 17, 2007 4:18 PM

ArmyBrat,

Just, FYI - Eastern NC style bbq is not "NC BBQ."

There are two types of NC BBQ. Vinegar is Eastern NC BBQ. My preference is for what we eat in the other 85% of the state - which is the traditional wet, honey/worcestership type sauce.

Cincinnati and Memphis style barbecue is not my thing, but still I'd never push a plate of it away from me. Texas is fine, but not gloriously superior to any of the others. The critical thing is to keep eating BBQ everywhere you go so that your opinion is current and informed, LOL. We manage to argue about BBQ alot in this state, for fun.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 4:19 PM

"Again, no personal details, except that I will say that I now make more than ever would have been possible if I were a Fed, and that's only because DW was a SAHM - I wouldn't be where I am now without her."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 17, 2007 01:59 PM

Megadittos from Aberdeen! Like Army Brat and atlmom's typically executive men and the professionals at columbia_md's outfit, my family has benefited from having a SAHM. It's our way of balancing work and family, and it's entitled to as much respect as any other couple's way of balancing work and family. There shouldn't be any "mommy wars."

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | September 17, 2007 4:19 PM

The thing about Ms. Wolff and others who share her mindset is that ignores two big sources of debt in many families' budgets -- housing (be it rent or a mortgage payment) and educational debt. Housing is not a VLI and a college education (your own, not saving for your children's) is becoming increasingly essential as the number of high-paying manufacturing jobs in US declines.

~POWM

Posted by: tntkate | September 17, 2007 4:23 PM

MN - thanks for the info re: NC bbq. My brother and mother now live in Greenville, NC, so I was under the impression that the vinegar-based BBQ there was the definition of "NC BBQ". Gee, I learn things from this blog!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 17, 2007 4:27 PM

Oh, ArmyBrat, don't let them fool you, LOL!! Greenville is not representative of real North Carolina BBQ. Drive west of Raleigh and stop wherever and you'll almost always get the real thing. The drive down 85 between Petersburg and Charlotte is a thing of beauty. The highway stinks, but the BBQ options make up for it.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 4:30 PM

Matt- Come on. The reason people don't talk about money isn't because they're concerned about security. (I make $69,000 a year. Oh no, don't steal my identity!!!) It's because we "don't talk about money." Anyone disagree?

And believe me, my husband and I wouldn't be where we are without the other. And we both work. That's what a good partnership is. It's not restriced to a SAHM with a WOHD.

Finally, the best BBQ in the world is a hybrid concoction: Dreamland Alabama BBQ sauce (very spicy, only slightly sweet) on Texas brisket.

Posted by: atb2 | September 17, 2007 4:36 PM

Finally, the best BBQ in the world is a hybrid concoction: Dreamland Alabama BBQ sauce (very spicy, only slightly sweet) on Texas brisket.


As if there were any doubts?

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 4:43 PM

OFF TOPIC, I am thinking of buying an IPHONE any of you have one?

Posted by: pATRICK | September 17, 2007 4:48 PM

Tired and true, pATRICK. We love us some seared flesh!

Posted by: atb2 | September 17, 2007 4:50 PM

Matt,
If you don't like eastern NC barbecue, then you haven't had GOOD eastern NC barbecue (mine, of course -- and there are two places in the Outer Banks that serve good bbq as well). It's vinegary and a little red, very moist and very, very spicy, and needs to be served with a scoop of finely-chopped slaw.
I have done some Lexington BBQ stops, as recently as last year when son #1 was in school in Salisbury, NC. Good, but not as good as eastern. Don't fancy the dry rubs or the sweet sauces myself, but I do make a mean red/mustard bbq sauce for chicken.

And speaking of regional food...I absolutely do NOT understand those folks in coastal Georgia or SC who go on and on and on about 'low-country boil' when all they do is boil shrimp (with no seasoning) until it's rubbery and BOIL crabs (again, no seasoning) until the meat is gray and mushy. BIG pet peeve when I lived in Savannah.

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 17, 2007 4:55 PM

"Matt,
If you don't like eastern NC barbecue, then you haven't had GOOD eastern NC barbecue . . ."

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 17, 2007 04:55 PM

Huh? Did I write anything about barbecue? I wrote about home-pressed tortillas and home-made pizza with store-bought tomato sauce, because that's what I know best. I admit I have never been anywhere in North Carolina east of Research Triangle Park. Go, Blue Devils!

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | September 17, 2007 5:00 PM

What's with the dumping on Eastern NC BBQ? That's one of my favorite foods in the world (along with hush puppies -- which are often conveniently served alongside). Texas does great brisket, and some really good smoked sausage. And I do like Alabama ribs, with that bit of sweetness thrown in. But there's just not a whole lot better than some pulled pig in vinegar sauce with coleslaw on top. Anytime I drive through that part of the state, I make sure to plan it around some mealtime or other.

Dang, I'm hungry.

Posted by: laura33 | September 17, 2007 5:11 PM

Sorry, Matt. It was ArmyBrat, not you. My bad.
And I'm not EVEN getting into that OTHER statewide debate!

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 17, 2007 5:14 PM

oh, educmom, it's ArmyBrat you seek to lull into the vinegar wasteland.

Now, now, while I'm sure your BBQ is very good, if you're going to advocate eastern NC BBQ, at least point the naifs in the direction of Smithfield's Chicken and BBQ, LOL.

I put bad shrimp into the category of bad BBQ. Please, sir, may I have some more?

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 5:14 PM

Ah, MN, you have obviously never tasted the "food" served at the typical low-country boil...I think I've had shoe leather that was more tender than the overboiled shrimp in one of those "dishes"

Posted by: educmom_615 | September 17, 2007 5:17 PM

"It's so sad to pATRICK because we don't even have good pizza here."

Scarry, I am sorry to hear that you don't have great pizza in your area. On the bright side, though, I think that pizza is like sex. Even when it's bad, it's good.

Posted by: Emily | September 17, 2007 5:33 PM

OK - Now I am really hungry, and strangely crazing sushi. Maybe some California rolls? Am I allowed to eat that?

Posted by: Emily | September 17, 2007 5:38 PM

Emily,

It's ALWAYS time for sushi. California rolls, spider rolls, it's all good.

educmom, I have consumed many pounds of low-country boil, and we will have to agree to disagree, LOL.

laura, there's plenty of bbq for all of us. Remember where this started - for me, all bbq is worth fighting about. Let's have some samples to make sure we remain right, LOL.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 5:45 PM

Hey, I DO try to write unbiased, feel good articles. At least they seem unbiased to me and they make me feel good.

My point is that we are all pretty opinionated. I'd rather let it show than pretend I'm objective.

And Army Brat, not to nit pick too much, but a lot of the uber successful women you cite married men who already had children. I'm not saying stepmothering is easy, but at least there was another mother in the picture sharing the child raising. Truly it's hard to be a very involved parent of either gender and a C level exec.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 17, 2007 5:53 PM

Kind of off topic, but this thing about (some) successful people needing SAH partners reminded me of a Maryland judge that just did not fit the usual stereotypes. She had 14 children (I think a few of them were stepchildren, but most of them were her bio children), started working as a legal secretary in the beginning, and then managed somehow to go to college, law school, and establish her career even as she continued to have children. And she was not rich in the beginning, or even particularly comfortably middle class at first. She was an instructor in a class I took, and I was always in awe of all she was able to accomplish while she raised all those kids. And to boot, she was one of the nicest women I have ever met. I would be a raving lunatic if I had 14 children AND a demanding job.

Posted by: Emily | September 17, 2007 6:14 PM

Emily,

Was she a federal or state court judge? It matters because federal appointments are quite competitive. State court judges can be elected or appointed with far less experience. Anyhoo, what's the backstory? Did she have a SAH spouse? Was she divorced and sharing joint custody? At what point in her career did she have her various children? Being a judge is not time-intensive. The legal experience you often, but not always, have to amass in order to get that appointment or run for that office can be quite time-intensive. Tell us more.

How are you doing, btw? Feeling good?

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 6:29 PM

Nice story, Emily. I think some people are unusually capable of raising tons of kids and working. Unlike me, a raving lunatic with only three children.

Posted by: leslie4 | September 17, 2007 6:29 PM

Matt- Come on. The reason people don't talk about money isn't because they're concerned about security. (I make $69,000 a year. Oh no, don't steal my identity!!!) It's because we "don't talk about money." Anyone disagree?

Posted by: atb | September 17, 2007 04:36 PM

You are spot on. This is true of the workplace, where more discussion would likely lead to a few brown nosers making less money, and everyone else actually getting comparable pay for their titles/workload (ok not always, I'll admit exceptions, but I mean generally). However we just don't talk about money in this society. It makes sense when it's your 8 year old in gradeschool who shouldn't discuss your salary, but on here? I wonder what holds people back? I'd give a rough estimate if it applied to a point I was trying to make.

Posted by: _Miles | September 17, 2007 6:40 PM

Miles,

I for one, never forget that, for months after he disclosed the aggregate amount of his credit card debt, someone relentlessly bashed Father of 4 about being irresponsible and based that statement on his disclosure of personal financial information. The fact that certain participants use any personal financial information they obtain in order to bash someone, rather than focusing on the relative lameness of someone's arguments or opinions, discourages many of us from disclosing real dollars here. Plus, realistically, in order to have a meaningful discussion about finances, income is only the beginning. This blog pulls participants from many cities/regions. Weighing the pros and cons, I don't consider this to be a good place to share real numbers. That's, of course, only my two cents.

Posted by: MN | September 17, 2007 7:00 PM

MN's final words "only my two cents" within a discussion of whether to disclose real dollars or not are definitely a howler....

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 17, 2007 7:59 PM

"You can build your pedestrian-friendly communities, where people crowd into apartments within two blocks of the Silver Spring Metro station, but don't expect me or my children to give up our green suburban homes and garages to come live there. With a car, a ten-minute trip takes ten minutes. Well put, Shandra!"

Oh don't worry Matt, in a few years when we're not toting diapers we'll go back to being wacky that way. :-)

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | September 17, 2007 8:49 PM

In an unprecedented development, we have a tie for Fred's Quote of the Day.

(How I might save money Division)
(Pizza Hut & Peter Pan Section)

Both go to Irishgirl!

"Of course this is a joke because there is no way I am cutting back on my pizza."


"I also guess I will fly my kids to the doctor by flapping my arms really hard, I hope they can both fit on my back."


For this truly rare accomplishment, Irishgirl may ride in both the front and the back of the Creepy Van (tm) c/w Hula Girl.

Posted by: Fred | September 17, 2007 9:12 PM

BTW, the best pizza in the U.S. comes from my hometown of Chicago! But I ain't leaving po boy heaven for pizza anytime soon. (Maybe just a trip to Chicago.)

Posted by: Fred | September 17, 2007 10:00 PM

Emily, yeah pizza is okay when it is still bad, but growing up with Italians makes you spoiled.

Fred,

I am so honored! I can't believe that my snark won quotes of the day. I love it and the creepy can.

Posted by: Irishgirl | September 17, 2007 10:18 PM

Irishgirl, your snark was hysterical, definitely deserved both places!

And the best pizza in the U.S. comes from New Haven CT!! Oh, how I miss really good pizza - I am so with you on that Scarry.

Posted by: LizaBean | September 17, 2007 10:23 PM

MN,
She was a Maryland state judge, but she did not become a judge until she was older, probably in her late 50s. What I found most impressive is that she worked full time, went to college and law school, and somehow managed to raise her kids and have more at the same time. She told us her story, and she was a mom working as a legal secretary when she first decided to go to college and law school. So she began her education when her first few kids were little, and then just had more. And worked full time as well. Eventually, she became a widow and remarried, but not until the later years when her kids were a bit older.

Posted by: Emily | September 18, 2007 10:18 AM

MN's final words "only my two cents" within a discussion of whether to disclose real dollars or not are definitely a howler....

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 17, 2007 07:59 PM

I try, dotted. I try, LOL.

Posted by: MN | September 18, 2007 3:21 PM

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