Monday, February 5, 2018

And while I'm at it...the essence of Moms

Recently, as many of you may have heard, a few City Councillors were heard disparaging the PAC, Waltham Citizens for Education; these elected officials referred to the leaders of that group as "Mad Moms," "Mean Moms," "Mom Police," and, my personal favorite, "Mom Bullies."  While I haven't had an opportunity to speak with the men who are on the Board of WCE, it's been hard for me to shake this contemptuous, sexist, and vile characterization.

This weekend, I was reminded of it during an overall very cordial conversation with City Council President, Diane LeBlanc.  Since my younger son was with me and I made a point that we were on our way to my older son's basketball game after our meeting, Ms. LeBlanc remarked that I was "busy."  And, while that's a fair assessment, it felt condescending: I'm "busy" with my kids' activities. I'm "busy" posting on social media. I'm busy with my family and my friends.  There was a real disconnect in what Ms. LeBlanc seemed to understand about my professional life and what she understands about women who are full time household managers.

For the purposes of this blog, I will spare you my resume, other than to say that I am proud of my career: I worked my way through a two-year degree in an aspect of healthcare in order to complete my four-year degree.  After college, I was fortunate to have been recognized and picked out of the crowd for certain skills (who knew that talking a lot is a useful skill set) and I enjoyed a career in sales, marketing, business development, sales training, product launch, and sales management. When my husband and I found ourselves navigating parenthood without any nanas or pop-pops or tias or uncles or cousins around, it was so fortunate that I could count on my clinical training and return to direct patient care for almost seven years.  It was even more fortunate that, when I decided I could return to a business development role, my former and current employers took a chance on someone who had been out of the market for 7 years.  It's a source of pride that I worked up until the day before each of my sons were born and that I returned to work eight weeks after delivering my second baby.

That's my story and every woman has her own: we build networks of friends and relatives and neighbors for support.  I remember discovering with relief when Jack went to kindergarten that there were two moms who were home with their kids and on whom I could rely when I was running late.  All these years later, I owe so much to the women who carved out a way to be home with their kids and ended up picking up loose ends for those of us working outside the home. Shout out to Jo and Ashley, if you're reading.

When I explained to Ms. LeBlanc when we met for coffee this weekend that I currently work at the Alzheimer's Association, it seemed to me that she took that information to round out her narrative of me: a mom with two kids who does some squishy non-profit thing.  Ms. LeBlanc informed me about her career with the federal government and the region that she managed (Maryland to Maine, if I recall.)  What galled me was that Ms. LeBlanc spent several minutes detailing her professional career without asking me my role at the Alzheimer's Association (which is business development with health systems to implement Association-developed programs to make them dementia-capable.)

Allow me to return to my main thesis: when you decide to use "mom" as an epithet or a condemnation or a denigration, you lose.  The Waltham Citizens for Education are constituents, and taxpayers, and parents.  Maybe you disagree with them.  Keep in mind, though, that moms everywhere don't like name-calling.