Thursday, July 19, 2012

On Having It All and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

It suddenly struck me that by almost any metric I am "having it all." These three horrible words are making the rounds in the news again in the wake of announcements of new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's pregnancy, which is why they're on my mind. Normally, my response to any article about having it all is a whole lot of eye rolling.But then I started actually thinking about what people generally mean by having it all.

having it all

Consider that I'm an engaged mama, I'm gestating a fetus, I have a consistent job, I also freelance, I'm working on a memoir, and I'm in the beginning stages of starting a company with a friend*. On top of that, I generally keep my house neat and tidy with the help of the BabbyDaddy and, to a lesser extent, the P. I work out almost daily. I read. I make things now and then. And I try very hard to stay social.

But am I having it ALL? Of course not.

Fact is, plenty falls by the wayside. Exhibits A, B, C, and beyond would certainly be this year's lame-o garden... the cracks in the driveway... the list of sewing projects I don't have time to tackle... dishes that manage to pile up in the sink... my unfinished shower curtain... the lilacs. And then there is the ever-growing list of things I just can't be bothered to do, like get regular haircuts or pedicures or organize my crafting things beyond putting them on the shelf to get them out of the reach of the cats who shall be henceforth known as the Terrible 5.

The worst in all this are the things I want to do but simply can't, like take P. to swimming lessons or other activities that all seem to be scheduled in the middle of the work day or enjoy the odd cooler summer day - like today - that would be just perfect for a trip to the beach. Like turn that pile of the BabbyDaddy's old button downs into dresses before the weather gets too cold to wear them. Like go have morning coffee with the mama friends I never get to see anymore.

I don't really have a conclusion in mind, other than to point out that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who announced she's keeping her maternity leave abbreviated and plans to work through, is also seemingly having it all. Or planning to have it all. And boy howdy, is she getting a lot of flack for it - not from the corner's you'd expect, either. I would have guessed that she'd be taking criticism from the 'moms should stay in the kitchen' crowd, but she's actually getting torn down by the working mom brigade. Mostly for not planning to take "enough" leave, but also for not standing up as a representative for all working moms. Which is frankly ridiculous. The way I see it, she should do what works for her family. She doesn't have a responsibility to represent all working moms any more than I do.

And all this nonsensical squabbling about her personal choices? Is doing a disservice to those of us who'd like to see the normalization of moms and dads in the workplace and less criticism of working parents. How is that supposed to happen when working parents are criticizing each other?

*More details on this will be released as they become available.


  1. I totally agree that this woman's decisions are none of our business, though there were two things I read yesterday that I found compelling (I don't know if I agree completely, but they are interesting arguments):

    1. The health of the CEO of any publicly traded company is not really private, because said health can drastically effect stock value (I didn't know that, but the comparison was made to Steve Jobs' health).

    2. Woman who work for companies that don't offer paid maternity leave; that are too small to fall under FMLA, or that only offer leave as required by FMLA and nothing more, are frustrated. They see Ms. Meyer's plan for minimal maternity leave as a statement to their own bosses that maternity leave is not necessary or important. I don't think this is necessarily the case, though I can understand where they are coming from.

    I must say that you are like a super mom to me. I worked for my girls' first year of life and I was totally miserable. Becoming a stay at home mom was the best thing to ever happen to me and I am happier than ever. I can't imagine keeping up with everything you do, even without a full time day job! Way to go!

    1. I definitely see where the criticism is coming from - I work for a company with no leave policy that doesn't fall under FMLA guidelines because it's too small. Heck, I'm the only woman at the company! And as a freelancer, I got no "real" time off when P. was born since she was early and I couldn't plan for it. Leave policies and leave support in the US are awful for sure. I'd be interested to know what Yahoo's official leave policy is for someone at the low end of the totem pole.

      And thanks, Sandra! Though know that I'd give up the paid work in half a heartbeat if it was financially feasible for us at this time - I'd still work on the memoir and the business, though, since those are both for fun at the moment. I usually say that if I ever look like I'm having it all, it's because I don't have any choice :)

  2. I hear where you are coming from, but since she is a public figure her maternity leave decision (which she made public in an interview) does have a ripple effect. From what I gather most working moms are not happy about being rushed back to work after having a baby. I could barely keep my eyes open at 6 weeks much less think about going to an office. Trust me, this lady CEO is going to have all kinds of help from night nannies to personal chefs in order to fulfill her commitment to a curtailed mat leave. I can understand the criticism from the working moms who don't have the same privileges and struggle everyday to balance work and family in a workforce with less than family- friendly policies

    1. That's why in every comment I've written on articles I've read about her has included the line "I'd like to see what the policy is for Yahoo employees at the bottom." I'm lucky enough to be able to take the full - unpaid, unfortunately - maternity leave as dictated by my state. Possibly because I implied, ever so sweetly, I'd take action if I didn't come back to a guaranteed job. Because I absolutely would. I get that a lot of people aren't able to take unpaid leave beyond the minimum - and only 25% of companies in the US offer any kind of paid leave at all.

      But at the same time, this lady isn't claiming to speak for everyone and if she can do it and it works for her, I think that's fine for her family. I had to go RIGHT back to working after P. was born so I know it's not entirely impossible (even though, hey, I'm no CEO - but I also don't have that army of nannies). Would I have preferred to have had real maternity leave? Yep. But I'm going to be doing freelance work right away this time, too. She may feel like this is what she needs to do to hold her position - and she may not be happy about it.

  3. Great post! I found your blog through a comment you left on mine (Walking on My Hands) and I love your blog!! Enjoy your pregnancy and having it all but not having it all done:) I am trying to work this balance myself. xoxo

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  5. Wow, in my country companies pay you a percentage of your salary during maternity leave (3 months) and NIS (National Insurance) covers the other percentage PLUS you get a maternity grant from them. You also have the option of taking a 4th month of- but that would be no pay leave.
    I'm lucky with my job (I work with my husband's family) that my hours are veeeeery flexible and I can do some of my work from home but with baby no. 2 on the way I'm going to have to consider a babysitter (which I'm extremely hesitant to do) as my husband swears he needs me in the office and can't imagine how he's even going to function when i'm on maternity leave...though honestly between work and being part of two social/outreach groups and the pile of housework and raising one kid with another on the way, finding time to do anything except breathe can be difficult at times. Serious KUDOS to you for doing as much as you do and for all the things that might take a back seat- don't sweat it.


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