with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
I have a recently divorced friend who blames the breakup of his marriage on the demise of the stay-at-home housekeeping Mom.
“I think the model just worked better,”he explained,” Back in the boomer days. When Mom stayed home with the kids and Dad brought home the bacon.”
My pal is not a misogynist in any way, so I just remained silent and looked at him curiously.
“There was no resentment about making the bed and packing the lunches,”he said,”Because it was balanced by the fact that Daddy’s bringing home the bacon. Now, often, Mom and Dad both bring home the bacon, but Mom’s expected to cook it and then clean the dishes and Dad still kinda wants to hang on the couch after dinner with his socks balled up on the floor and… it’s messed with everything.”
“Hmm.” I said, considering,”Huh.”
And I wondered: is it true that in this Generation, Moms are bringing home as much bacon as Dad? What impact does that have on divorce, family balance, and career success?
I grew up in a Leave-It-to-Beaver household, 1980’s style: my Mom stayed home and laundered sheets, cooked lemon meringue pie and constructed handmade crafts while my Dad commuted from suburbia to a mysterious desk job, where I envisioned him writing important letters to fine-trousered men with white moustaches. Mom volunteered at my elementary school and arranged play dates with other suburban matrons, cooking homemade dinners every night while Dad, indeed, crossed his feet on the hassock and watched sports. If there was any bitterness about this arrangement, I never witnessed it. I don’t think any of my friends had a Mom who worked outside the home. My parents are still married.
Apparently, though, I’m a bit of an anomoly, as a younger member of Generation X. One of the tag words for the Wikipedia definition of my generation is ‘latchkey kid’: many kids of the 80’s and 70’s were the first to witness their Moms take an outside-the-home job. The result, according to many articles I found online, is that Gen X Moms are actually more likely to stay at home than their boomer parents, dabbling in part time work or establishing their own work-from-home model in order to better balance home, life, kids and career. They’re making their bacon at home, it seems, and are putting family ahead of career. In short: though they’re doing it differently than their own Moms did, Generation X Moms are balancing a heavy work load. How long can they last without dropping at least one? And is Husband ball the one most likely to be dropped?
My own relationship with my son’ s Father ended in part because of my perception that I had to do it all: bring in the money, care for the house, make sure nothing was done to Screw Up the Child. It made me resentful.
Though I did find a mostly work-from-home career early in my son’s new life, I failed to balance appropriately, and I do blame my inability to keep seven balls in the air as part of the reason that I am now a Single Mom.
This USA today article quotes a 30-year study of Gen X women that states that they are “self-confident and goal-oriented, with high educational and occupational goals.” I believe this wholeheartedly: I don’t know a single Gen X Mom who doesn’t work her butt off in a million different ways.
I don’t know whether we’re doing it better or worse than our own Boomer Mamas, but I love that we’re trying our darndest.
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