Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Lie We Tell Mothers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Lie We Tell Mothers

Article excerpt

The most pernicious lie I believed about motherhood was a lie of omission.

No one told me that having ambitious career goals while raising children required significant help. By help, I mean any or some combination of: a stay-at-home spouse, accessible and helpful relatives, a reliable nanny or babysitters, a house cleaner or cook.

It was a mystery to me how everyone else managed to keep a clean house, feed their families healthy meals and maintain their selves while still advancing at work and having time for a social life.

I'm sure there will always be the 1 percent of superwomen among us who pull this off without hired help or extraordinary support systems. But I'm talking about the 99 percent the rest of us. Our minds have a carrying capacity of how many items can be stored at one time. (That would be seven.) Our bodies have a minimum requirement for sleep.

I learned this after years of wondering why I was so tired, so rushed and always feeling so behind. The ones who can even barely afford it, outsource it. If it's a choice between a pricey summer camp for the children or a babysitter and weekly cleaning service, pick the maid!

No working mother shared this advice so explicitly with me until recently. It's not just a matter of choosing peace of mind or an extra few hours of rest for yourself. It's the critical difference of getting by at work or getting ahead.

Brigid Schulte exposes a few of these truths in her recent book "Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time." The research bears out these facts: More mothers work outside the home, spend more time taking care of their children, do a greater percentage of household chores than their spouses and have less time for themselves than in years past.

One of the researchers Schulte interviewed remarked: "Employed mothers talking about sleep is like a hungry man talking about food. …

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