The little voices in my head and I, discussing an article on ‘Working Mothers’…

27 Sep

As I usually do, I try to [jump]start my [work] day catching up with the news. My routine begins with a brief read through the Washington Post and a couple of coffee. Since it was Monday, I was a bit delayed with my start. After going over the unsettling headlines on the very sad events in DC [a metro stop from our house, now rented] and, as a parent, could not stop thinking about the 12 year old Florida girl, victim of cyber-bullying

Two stories that hit really close to home, and make us reconsider the world we’re raising our children into…

I decided to move on, and hopped over to the paper’s Parenting section, another favorite of mine. That’s when my ‘internal conversation‘ decided to take place. An article from Mary-Jane Williams had me nodding my head in agreement, asking the author/interviewee questions and answering them before any of them [the article’s author and the interviewee] had an opportunity to do so.

Katrina Alcorn, a writer-editor and mom of three in Oakland recently had a book published about ‘struggles, juggling work and home responsibilities’ and yes, it’s about many of us, working moms out there, trying our best to survive as professional, spouses and state-of-the-art moms.

Here’s how the ‘little voices in my head‘ began reading through the article:

[voices in my head speaking up] “I bet you she [book author, previously ‘maxed-out’ mom] will tell us it’s virtually impossible to juggle, perform and excel at all tasks we [working moms] are expected to display”…

[article] “The expectation is that there’s an adult at home, but that’s not how we live anymore. We’re trying to make something work that doesn’t work…”

[voices in my head to the conscious me] “I could have told you that. Don’t you know that already? Do I have to remind you how hard some mornings can be when, while fighting a splitting headache and trying to get a couple of coffee out of the microwave, you find yourself mopping the floor because one of the kids has already spilled orange juice from his/her breakfast? And remember, it has to be done carefully, so you don’t get your work clothes dirty before you’ve got a chance to leave the house!?”

[the conscious me]  “I guess you’re right. Maybe I don’t need a book to tell me that, it’s fairly common sense. We all know how hard it is nowadays to be a working mother…” And then, I resume back to reading the article: “but… let’s keep on reading it… she [book author, previously exhausted mom] seems to be pretty grounded. Maybe she’ll bring something up that I don’t know yet… let me keep reading…”

[article] “We need to change the conversation. We need to get out of this obsession with individual choices… We need to change the conversation so it’s not about what women are doing, but what society is doing. Do you want a bunch of bulletproof women to have this, what we think of as a normal life?”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head] “WOW, she just nailed it on the head! See how simple the problem is: we [women, mothers] are not the problem; the society is, and the way the society ‘perceive’ the participation of working mothers is the big issue – and I loved her metaphorical comparison using the ‘bulletproof’ women! I totally feel like, every morning, before we all go out [of our bedroom] and face the real world [aka, our demanding kids, our needy spouses, our challenging jobs], we need to put on some sort of invisible, but yet, effective shield, and carry on with our daily chores. And don’t even consider the possibility of failing! Failure for a working mother, whose goal is nothing less than perfect, is completely out of question!”

[little voices in my head] “You’re overreacting. Do you believe you’re the only mother that works outside the house? You actually got it pretty easy… and don’t get me started on the whole ‘you’ve got household help’ speech… Remember: it was one of the reasons you guys decided to keep going with this foreign service gig… be honest, what would life be like if you were back in DC? Would you be working?”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head]  “But that’s the whole point! You’re right, very likely, I wouldn’t be working. How could I? And a nanny? There’ll be no way on earth we’d be able to afford one! And if I’d decided to work, even part-time, I had to find a reliable day-care for the baby girl, juggle with a flexible work schedule, and be prepared for the ‘not-so-friendly looks’ my co-workers would give me every time I had to leave early, due to some unforeseen cause! But this lady here [the book author] is so right, let me read out loud her statement:

[the article] “The women in my life are really capable, smart, hardworking and dedicated to their families. They don’t really need advice.Their employers need advice, their co-workers need advice, the policymakers need advice.”

[the conscious me to the little voices in my head] “See? Do you get the main issue? It’s all about this endless conflict women have to deal with; the conflict between working [outside the house] and raising kids. Here’s another excerpt:”

[the article] “For better or worse, women are raised to be nurturers and to say yes. But I think there’s more to it. Research shows that when employers know a woman has children or is going to have children, her performance is scrutinized more. . . . If a woman is worried that she’s being scrutinized at work because she’s a mother, she’s going to be really circumspect about setting boundaries at work because she doesn’t want to be seen as someone who is not pulling her weight… Those things came at a price. They were not free. We may put in extra time at night after the kids go to bed, early in the morning or on weekends, but that time isn’t seen the same way as the time in the office. . . . I think we need to challenge the idea that to be effective at work or be a leader you need to work long hours.”

[little voices in my head to the now, caffeine-deprived me] “Did you notice that when you began ‘psycho-analyzing the article, your completely forgot about your coffee? It’s probably ice-cold by now! We need to fix this, asap!”

[the not-so-sure about being conscious me, to the little voices in my head] “I guess you’re right. Totally forgot about it. And now, I have to go find a microwave at somebody else’s office and warm it up… it won’t be the same, but hey, the article really got me engaged, which is a good sign…. I hope more working moms out there come out with similar ‘poking discussions’… some good food for thought… And talking about food, let me get that coffee warmed up!”

[little voices, now fading] “Good chatting with you. Hope you have a nice day at work… Talk to you soon!” 😮

Written in response to this week’s writing inspiration, “Dialogue”


Posted by on September 27, 2013 in FAMILY, foreign service, humor


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

21 responses to “The little voices in my head and I, discussing an article on ‘Working Mothers’…

  1. Joy Felix

    September 27, 2013 at 8:17 am

    As a globe-trotting Air Force spouse who has managed to stay a Prof at the Military universities – I hear you! Could I do this without someone coming and cleaning once a week and without the CDC there to drop of my son so I can go teach classes?

    Could I continue if so many didn’t need my classes to be promoted in the Air Force?

    The CDC is government run so it is artificially low priced with high standards – would I trust to leave my child somewhere else?

    Thanks! Great thoughts!


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      September 27, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Hey, Joy! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts/experiences over here! I so appreciate the feedback, the advice… it makes the blogging experience way more interesting and much richer… It’s very difficult for someone, outside this madness of lifestyle [foreign serivce, military, expatriate] to understand why sometimes we do certain things, the way we do… we’ve got our wn reasons, our own justification… that many may not agree/understand! I’ve changed career paths so many times, already! And add to the pot, the challenges of trying to raise your children well, within the opportunities the ‘system’ offers us… not easy, for sure! Thank you so much for your work, for your efforts.. and for your willingness to continue teaching at the Air Force… maybe one day, our paths will cross… who knows? 😮 Take very good care of yourself and your family… Greetings from our nomadic family in La Paz, Bolivia!


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      September 27, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Joy… forgot to say, I was gonna come back with a little ‘jokey answer’, when you mentioned ‘you hear me’… or… were you hearing the ‘little voices from my head, fighting each other’??? 😮 Thanks again for taking the time to read thru the opinionated ‘dialogue’!


      • Joy Felix

        September 27, 2013 at 9:27 am

        Haha – well I was hearing a little voice – but one that was complaining about having to go to bed!


        • 3rdCultureChildren

          September 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm

          I hear you! 😮 It’s an every evening complaint around my household!!!


  2. alphabetstory

    September 19, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Such a serious subject done with so much humor and retrospection. I like your style.


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      September 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you very much, Alphabetstory! Sometimes, humor is a much needed tool for committed parents… it keeps us going! Thanks for taking the time to read through it and share you comments here – much appreciated! 😮


  3. babyjill7...Marilyn Griffin

    September 17, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    very good!


  4. João Paulo

    September 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Oi, Raquel:

    Vc lê o Washington post? Vi que o Wall Street Journal tem o material copiado pela imprensa cubana. É comum isto?

    Beijão em vocês!



    • 3rdCultureChildren

      September 17, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Eu leio o tempo todo… comeco sempre de manha, rapidamente pelas primeiras noticias… e quanto a sua pergunta, sim, eh bastante comum… 😮 Beijo a todos!


  5. hot bizzle

    September 17, 2013 at 4:25 am

    ‘lovely voice’, really i love it.



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