Hello fellow Mamas!
This one is for all the awesome working moms out there. Ever since she stepped up to the helm of Yahoo and announced that she was pregnant, Marissa Mayer has been saying the wrong things to and for moms. Her latest misstep was saying to Fortune Magazine last night that her 2-month-old baby Macallister has been “easy.”
When she announced her pregnancy in June, Mayer stated that she would be back in the office after just a few weeks, thereby stirring up a hot debate as to whether or not she was setting a bad example for working women by not taking a longer maternity leave. Back then, I tried to be patient and recognize the fact that Mayer was a newly pregnant woman with a high-pressure job and had little idea of what was coming once that baby was born.
But now, I’ve lost my patience, because I can’t believe after that last firestorm that she said something like this again! Her most recent statements are even more insensitive to the situation of most moms, and frankly made me grimace.
“The baby’s been easy,” Mayer said at an event where she was being honored as one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women. “The baby’s been way easier than everyone made it out to be. And I think I’ve been really lucky that way … he’s been easy and that’s been a terrific surprise.”
So, Marissa, here’s what I think of what you said:
1) It can’t be true. I’ve had five babies (yes, I’m pulling that card!) and even on the best of days, not one baby could ever really be described as an “easy baby”. I’ve had good eaters and sleepers and burpers, but taking care of a newborn requires constant attention over the 24 hour period. What possibly is easy about that? Even if you have a lot of help, which you must, don’t you worry constantly like any other mother about how your baby is doing? Is he eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Is he pooping enough? Is he still breathing at 2 a.m.?
2) It’s downright insensitive. Babies come in all shapes and sizes and present new challenges with each passing day. Some have colic, some have gas, some don’t eat enough, some seem to wake up too early from their naps and want to eat all day long. Saying your baby is easy is frustrating and even hurtful to the legions of other moms, working in and out of the home, who are struggling to handle their baby with their other obligations.
3) It side-steps the issue of how you yourself are balancing work and family, which was the question at hand. The interviewer was really asking how you’re managing as a new mom in such a huge job, not whether or not the baby himself is easy or not. How are things, really? The postpartum period? Getting up for a 12-hour day when you’re bleary-eyed from night feedings? Even if you have help, I can’t imagine that you’re not exhausted and this hasn’t influenced the way you see working while mothering. The way you see the world, even?
I know you have a company to run. You want to appear strong, invincible even. Got it. But minimizing the realities behind having a baby is only going to put that seed in certain people’s minds that maybe women don’t really need time away from work to recuperate and learn how to care for their babies or flexibility in the workplace when they return.
The most popular video on our new site CloudMom is a breastfeeding and sleeping schedule for a 2 to 4-month-old baby. This tells me something. This is the stage at which the constant feeding of the early weeks is hopefully lessening, but the exhaustion is catching up with you and you’re grappling to get a hang of taking care of the baby and incorporating that infant into your daily life. This is exactly the age your baby is, so you might have some struggles on your hands soon. I know I did.
Oh, Marissa – I wish you all the best and I am proud of you as a fellow mom, but when you speak, try to remember that you are not just speaking for yourself or your company. Like it or not, you are speaking for moms and women everywhere. Real moms and real women who could only dream about having an “easy baby.”