Don't bother trying to pry Time magazine – with its cover of sexy, stay-at-home mom Jamie Lynne Grumet standing defiantly with her left breast in her son's almost 4-year-old mouth – out of your husband's clenched fist.
It will only make you angry.
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I guess that was the intent of the headline "ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?" But it's not the divisiveness of trying to pit moms and their parenting styles against each other that ticked me off. It's that a national magazine wasted valuable space on a non-debate when the real issues facing motherhood these days – low wages and lack of quality, affordable childcare to name two – should be out there.
With mothers in the workforce reaching 70.6 percent and nearly 40 percent of working wives now the primary breadwinners in their households, let's forget about the 1 percent of moms who wear skinny jeans and tank tops with no bras and talk about the fact that there have been no real advances for working moms in this country since the Family and Medical Leave Act was signed into law under President Bill Clinton in 1993.
The 19-year-old federal law requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees for medical and family needs, including pregnancy, adoption, foster placement or family illness. That was considered huge at the time. But keep in mind that at least 178 countries now have national laws requiring paid leave for new mothers, and more than 50 guarantee this for new fathers.
Compared to other Western societies, the U.S. government is extremely lame when it comes to government-organized childcare and family policies.
The overwhelming majority of U.S children do not have a full-time caretaker at home. Yet, most U.S. workplaces continue to act as if their workers have a full-time spouse at home to provide care. And don't tell me this is all about choices. The shift in women's work participation is not simply about women wanting to work. It's also about their families needing them to work.
Nobody can be two places at the same time. Working mothers cannot simultaneously provide care for children, the sick or the elderly. They need workplaces that are flexible. They need Congress's help to make workplaces adapt. There are policies that can help families address their needs for childcare or paid time off.
If we can subsidize energy, homeland security and agriculture, why not childcare and parenting leave? What's so radical about offering part-time and even three-quarters-time jobs with benefits?
How can we think about being mom enough when mothers with comparable job experience are 47 percent less likely to be hired than women without children, according to a 2005 Cornell University study?
When they are hired, the same study shows mothers start out with salaries that are $11,000 lower than that of a woman without children. And they tend to earn less and less for each additional child they have, a phenomenon dubbed the "mommy wage gap."
Are we mom enough?
If you want to ignite the so-called "Mommy Wars" for your own viewing pleasure then at least level the playing field to give us a fighting chance.