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August 17, 2006

More on Meredith Vieira, and this time I am mad

I wrote a previous post on a New York Times Magazine article about on Meredith Vieira.

After I submitted that post, I decided to do a Technorati search on Meredith Vieira.

The Technorati search brought up two posts of interest. One post was on the ejohnsonandcompany blog from a confidence coach who brought up the issue of self esteem, career decisions and self-confidence in the midst of chaos. All I know is that I have decided to embrace the chaos and charge ahead without looking back. I don't have time to question my decisions, which may be for the best.

I was surprised to see that another post on Meredith Vieira from the Broadsheet blog at Salon.com had a completely different view of the story then I did :Meredith Vieira did not opt out!, by Page Rockwell (I would link directly to the post, but Salon.com requires a site pass or for users to register before reading their full posts).

 Here is an excerpt from the post "Meredith Vieira did not opt out!, by Page Rockwell". "And holding her up as someone who opted out, and then "won" by coming back into the workforce on her terms, is dishonest about the realities of opting out. It's hard to go back to work with gaps in one's résumé! It's also hard to demand flextime or walk away from a job if you don't have ample savings in the bank, as Vieira does."

It is true that not every mom can opt out and stay home with her kids. I grew up with divorced parents and my single mother had no choice but to work. We did not have "money in the bank". But I did see my mother as a role model who had the strength to make our situation work. She always had a positive attitude even though we were on food stamps for a short time. Issues like quality day care for working moms and flex-time are important to enable working moms to achieve better family balance. We should all support organizations like Momrising that are helping make an impact in those areas.

Now I am a mother and lucky to have the option of staying home... And the challenge or re-entering the workforce. Many mothers are opting out and are struggling. Page Rockwell's post marginalizes Meredith Vieiras' achievements because she has the money in the bank. And that makes me mad. Meredith Vieira received her position on the "Today Show" not because of her bank account, but because she earned it. As I have said in previous posts, my new mantra is "Feminism is about choice, not judging other women's choices". Yes, a resume gap is tough to overcome. But moms who have trouble re-entering the workforce should try to "redefine themselves" (as Meredith states in the New York Times article) and they can create their own options. I choose blogging as my new direction and am already getting opportunities from that.

I would like to get past "opting out is only for moms with bank accounts" and get to a more inspiring message. If moms can't opt out, they can make sure their children are in the right day care situation and make the time they do spend with them special. That is what my mom did and I have great memories of my childhood (the struggles are a distant memory). I remember that my working mom would save up for us to see Sunday matinee shows in San Francisco, going for hikes in Foothill Park, hanging out at the Palo Alto Children's library and our pizza nights. It is not going to be easy, but nothing about being a mom is easy. 

Let's spend our energy supporting legislation and businesses that offer fair treatment of working mothers, developing programs that provide job-training and day care options for mothers seeking work. And on embracing the chaos of motherhood while enjoying the priceless time we do have with our kids.

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