Thursday, July 19, 2012

High Careers and Babies Don't Mix, Part III: An Unfolding Case Study

The first thing I noticed about Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo, is that she's hot.  Really hot.  It's amazing how hot she is.  Not just by CEO standards, but by any standards.

The second thing is that she's six months pregnant.

Wow.  That's even more amazing than the first attribute.

So, is Mayer a poster-child for the quintessential feminist?  Or a cray-cray recipe for disaster?  (Either way, her news comes at a perfect time for Anne Marie-Slaughter's publicists as it makes her recent article freshly relevant).

Mayer has already said that she's going to only take a few weeks of maternity leave and work the entire time.  Kinda already sounds high-stress cray-cray to me.

I have no doubt she can physically do it.  This woman is worth hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to Google stock.  She can hire an entire fleet of household help.  Night nanny, live-in nanny, baby nurses, cooks, house-cleaners, butlers, personal umbrella holders, whatever she and the baby needs.

But can she do it emotionally?  Preggo and post-natal hormones are a powerful drug cocktail.  It usually makes women totally weepy and "hyper-clingy" to their baby.

But more than that, all new moms I know WANT to spend time with their baby.  They WANT to bond with their baby.  And they feel totally crappy if they don't get to do that.

I've known moms who couldn't bond much with their baby either because of health reasons or work demands and they feel/felt awful about it.  It's crushing to have your baby cry when you hold him/her and stretch out their hands to their true primary caregiver, looking for comfort in the cuddle and coos of another person.  Have you ever been rejected by a baby?  It hurts like heck.  But I can't imagine the sting of the rejection when it's your own child!

But even more crushing is when that baby gets older and starts calling that other person "Mommy" while being pretty much indifferent to your presence.  And then that toddler grows into a child and has all his/her moral instruction from another person.  And then that child grows into a teen and you wonder why you have no moral authority over him/her--oh yeah, it's because I was barely in his/her life.  But I get ahead of myself.

In all stages of life, if you want to bond with your child and have a 'real' relationship with him/her, that necessitates time.  And time is not something CEO's (let alone any full-time working mom) have a lot of to spare.

So there you have it.  The One Million Dollar Question (unadjusted for inflation) for high-career feminists--to bond or not to bond?

Time (and the development of a child's psyche) waits for no one.


Anonymous said...

I thought this response to Slaughter's article made some good points. Interested in what you think!

nafrica said...

I think Mayer's example puts undue pressure on other mothers to maintain a demanding job and still nurture their children. It would be much better to acknowledge in the coverage that Mayer is uniquely wealthy, who can hire tons of help. And that either, Mayer will be a somewhat negligent mother or a somewhat negligent CEO. You can't have it both ways. It's not helpful to create the illusion that you can.