"Thank you for coming by my office, Elizabeth. Can you shut the door behind you and have a seat?”
“I don’t know why I’ve been called to HR. What’s going on?”
“It’s come to our attention that you’ve been falling down on your job as a mother. Slacking. We’ll need to document this conversation.”
“WHAT? I’m being written up? For what?”
“During your interview for this position, we specified that you were expected to work 135 hours or more each week. You’ve been consistently clocking far less than that.”
“No one can work 135 hours a week. I thought you were joking!”
“We never joke. Also, you’ve been eating, despite our clear instructions that you must wait until after the associate has eaten.”
“But he just throws his food on the floor! At this rate I’ll eat next year!”
You may have already seen it. The American Greetings card company posted an ad for a “Director of Operations” at Rehtom, Inc. and proceeded to line up video interviews where the interviewer shared a job preview of grueling commitment, long hours, and no pay.
After each applicant wondered how this kind of work environment is legal, or realistic, humane, or even possible, they were given the Big Reveal: It’s not a Director of Operations. It’s a MOM. Cue the tearful gratitude expressed to the applicants’ own mothers, as they understand what an insane hardship these saints endured to raise them.
Girlfriend, if this video describes you, you’re doing it wrong. And you’re never going to have grandchildren, because if you’re modeling an 18-year stint of what can only be described as martyrdom trading off with indentured servitude, you’re not giving your kids much to look forward to.
I’d like to say that my own comparatively slacker parenting style was a result of loads of research that confirmed that we’re supposed to prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child. I wish that I had read studies showing that the “good-enough” mother was the one who raised the most self-sufficient, independent children.
But I didn’t read anything. All I knew was that if I had any hope of going the distance, at minimum all four kids would be doing their own laundry at age 10 and be able to make their own breakfasts. Even so, I was still comparing myself to the moms who devoted Every. Single. Moment. to the kids and experienced guilt that my children weren’t living a Pinterest-fueled fantasy life, but I was too overwhelmed to do much else.
So I think we all know how this is going to turn out.
“Elizabeth, you might also recall that during your interview we were very clear that this job required certification in medicine, psychology, and the culinary arts. Clearly, that was a lie, as evidenced by the fact you’ve made fish sticks for dinner three times this week.
“Also, you were told that if you had a life, you’d need to give that up. So why do you keep scheduling Bunco nights?”
“You mean I can’t leave the house?”
“Elizabeth, what part of ‘giving up your life’ did you not understand?”
Being a mother is a lot of work but it’s a good thing it isn’t a job. I might have been fired years ago.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.