“My job’s harder than your job! I deserve more attention than you deserve! Look at how difficult MY life is!”
Sounds like something you’d overhear in a lunchroom full of immature adolescents. Instead, this is how American women are acting.
Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney having “never worked a day in her life” last week caused quite a frenzy. Although she apologized, her words stirred a familiar debate and caused politicians to make snarky accusations.
What does this accomplish? Does anyone cave to the arguments and say, “Oh, my bad! You’re totally right. Your job is WAY harder than mine. You should be given a major award!” No.
Here is a sampling of the jobs I’ve had:
- Cocktail waitress. Carried heavy trays of beer bottles for little to no tips.
- Retail associate. Sold swimwear to snooty women shopping for a cruise.
- College teaching assistant in the statistics department (while working toward a double major, playing a sport and serving as VP of my sorority).
- Grunt worker on a project to optimize the process of refurbishing P3 Navy planes. The few women on the shop floor would stop and ask me, in this order (all together now in your best East Texas accent): “Honey, is you married?” No. “Got any kids?” Um, no.
- Software systems analyst working alongside oilfield services guys in Podunk Oklahoma (only thing to do there was go cow tipping or shoot things. Fun times).
- Strategy consultant for a consulting firm (worked 80+ hour weeks).
- Math teacher and basketball coach (harder than all of the above).
And hands down the most difficult job I’ve ever had is my current one: Stay at Home Mom (SAHM). I’m not here to argue why this is the hardest job on the list for me personally. On the contrary, I’d like to point out that everyone I know has a hard job.
My best friend has a full time corporate job and two young children. It’s hard.
My husband is a software executive trying to find work/life balance. It’s hard.
My sister-in-law is single with no kids and works full time at a non-profit. She pours herself into helping others. It’s hard.
My mom is a CPA and has a stressful job in finance. She also takes care of my dad, a stroke victim. It’s hard.
My brother started his own business and has a young family. It’s …(hang in there with me)… HARD!
I’ve made the choice to stay home with my kids. It’s a lot of work. When people ask “what do you do all day?” I tell them I eat bon-bons and watch the Today Show (I wish)! Other jobs I have during this phase of my career: Serve on the board of directors at a non-profit. Volunteer at my kids’ schools. Mentor/coach executives. Serve as VP of Communications for the Booster Club (PTA). By the way, Hilary Rosen, I don’t get paid for any of those jobs and a lot of people wouldn’t consider them “work.”
It’s pointless to try and convince people that being a SAHM is difficult work. And there is little accomplished in proclaiming that teachers work their tails off for peanuts. If you’ve never had these jobs you won’t relate. I didn’t understand until I took on these roles myself. I don’t pretend to understand the stress that other people (with jobs I’ve never had) experience day to day. But I do know one thing. It’s all hard work.
We’re wasting our time. Arguing. Judging. Criticizing. Working moms vs. SAHMs. Women vs. men. Rich vs. poor. Democrats vs. republicans. We could be channeling this energy to cooperatively solve problems that matter. To help people. To build each other up.
I’m not a political writer. I would rather nail Jell-O to a tree than debate politics. I’m a conservative. Two of my best friends are liberals. We give each other the benefit of the doubt. We know in our hearts that we ultimately want to help others. We just might disagree on the best way to go about it. We respect each other. We love helping people.
I’m not naive. I know that economic and social issues have their place in politics. They need to be discussed. But instead of waging this “war on women” and arguing who has the harder job, can we get over ourselves and focus on encouraging each other and helping people who are truly in need?