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July 2, 2014 8:21 AM   Subscribe

While interviewing Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, at the Aspen Ideas Festival Monday, David Bradley, who owns The Atlantic, asked two questions that elicited as frank a discussion of work-life balance as I've seen from a U.S. CEO. Pepsi CEO's Mother Had A Brutally Honest Reaction To Her Daughter’s New Job. (Previously)
posted by naju (198 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good for her.

I mean, I don't know how to square this circle. Maybe it isn't squareable. But good for her for not lying, at last. At long, long last.
posted by Diablevert at 8:29 AM on July 2 [18 favorites]


As a secretary, I found the "you too can work late and assist in parenting the boss's daughter" section particularly amusing. Secretaries, of course, never have children, so we're happy to be "trained" to support the boss's family - it fills the gaping emotional void at the core of working class life, you know.
posted by Frowner at 8:32 AM on July 2 [64 favorites]


... The person who hurts the most through this whole thing is your spouse. There's no question about it. You know, Raj always said, you know what, your list is PepsiCo, PepsiCo, PepsiCo, our two kids, your mom, and then at the bottom of the list is me. There are two ways to look at it. (laughing) You should be happy you're on the list. So don't complain. (laughing) He is on the list. He is very much on the list. But you know, (laughing) sorry, David.

I understand that gallows humor has its place and serves a necessary function, but this really doesn't seem like something to laugh about. This feels like a symptom of a very unhealthy family dynamic.
posted by jbickers at 8:32 AM on July 2 [22 favorites]


I hate that she had to chuckle off her husband "being a teenager" - I don't blame her as this is such an ingrained part of our culture - men are just children and need mommying too! but it's just depressing how much it's accepted at every level.
posted by sweetkid at 8:33 AM on July 2 [51 favorites]


The person who hurts the most through this whole thing is your spouse.

That's not really how it's supposed to work, though. At least in my opinion. My spouse is the first person I consult about anything, from whether I go to a work party to what birth control we use.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:34 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


I feel like my family dynamic (my mother is a doctor) went (and still goes): 1) her two kids 2) her job 3) my dad. I felt like everyone was OK with that. I also remember she couldn't come to a lot of the "mom" stuff, but my dad did some of it and I was grumpy about some of it, but overall I think she did a fantastic job on all counts and is a great role model for me. She doesn't shout feminism from the rooftops, like at all, but I feel like it's almost impossible to be raised by a highly educated professional woman and feel like you need to defer to men.
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


This was grotesque, but I think perhaps not unusual from a cultural perspective. If I ever thought my wife should do anything but relax after a day like she had as opposed to going out to purchase milk I hope someone would punch me. Her mother is a consummate enabler.
posted by docpops at 8:38 AM on July 2 [14 favorites]


When someone has this dynamic, a very high-powered job, kids, etc, it only works if there is a supporting spouse at home, taking care of business.

While I'm not in love with the infantilization she uses towards her husband, I suspect that he's the equivalent of a coporate wife.

I was talking to my boss one day and given his travel schedule, his long hours and the fact that he started out with our company by living in England for six months, I mused about how that would work for me. He said, "If I didn't have the support at home, we couldn't do this." Acknowledging that his wife was in partnership with him in his career.

I think a lot of these high powered executives have some weird gene that drives them to be very work oriented. That doesn't mean they don't love their families, they do, but this is a LOT of work to maintain the family while the other spouse is free to work those 16 hour days.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:41 AM on July 2 [10 favorites]


I suspect that he's the equivalent of a corporate wife.

See, I don't suspect that, given that he was unwilling to go out and get a goddamn gallon of milk.
posted by escabeche at 8:44 AM on July 2 [82 favorites]



This was grotesque, but I think perhaps not unusual from a cultural perspective.


There is so much that's universal here, but I am not surprised that someone would focus on "cultural perspective" and also drop massive negativity. It's really tiring.
posted by sweetkid at 8:45 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


That is the weirdest set of statements. The dissonance between the huge sexist societal expectations about what mothers are supposed to do, and the sort of blind privilege of having "help" at home and having secretaries at work for "seamless parenting," is just crazy. I get that this was a short snippet, but I didn't end up feeling that sympathetic to her. The part about calling the school so that she could respond to her daughter's emotional plea with a list of other daughters who were probably making the same plea, was particularly strange.
posted by OmieWise at 8:47 AM on July 2 [21 favorites]


I banged it on the counter and I said, "I had great news for you. I've just been told that I'm going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?"

And she said to me, "let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house. You know I've never seen that crown."


And this is not a "brutally honest reaction." It's a brutally sexist reaction.
posted by escabeche at 8:47 AM on July 2 [94 favorites]


Not sure what's tiring about it. There are cultural differences in how male and female roles are viewed within the household, full stop. But maybe that's an obliquely generous perspective to take for the behaviors on display and it would be more fair to just call it as it is - Dad's lazy and Grandma is a tyrant.
posted by docpops at 8:48 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


He didn't refuse to get the milk, her mother refused to ask him. We have no idea at all from this interview how much he contributes, negative or positive. This is a house with multiple servants, so the mother is making a vicious point to her daughter who has chosen to work and succeed outside.

And the servants and the secretaries are being paid so this woman can focus more time on work. Today, I paid for childcare and a housekeeper so that both my husband and I could work, albeit paid waaaaaay less than the CEO of Pepsi.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:50 AM on July 2 [31 favorites]


My eyes are now wet after RTFA and its complicated and I don't wanna talk about it. Yeah that first story and missed chances and also really really admire Indra as a role model and pathbreaker.

Bah humbug

stomps out of room slamming door
posted by infini at 8:51 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


Great interview, thanks. I will say that this paragraph, as the daughter of a working woman and someone who grew up in the 70s and 80s, made me boggle:

I'll tell you a story that happened when my daughter went to Catholic school. Every Wednesday morning they had class coffee with the mothers. Class coffee for a working woman — how is it going to work? How am I going to take off 9 o'clock on Wednesday mornings? So I missed most class coffees. My daughter would come home and she would list off all the mothers that were there and say, "You were not there, mom."

It really saddens me that her daughter gave her this guilt trip. My mother is a pediatrician who did not stay home with her three kids as we were growing up (my paternal grandmother came and stayed with us until my older sister was 8 and then she headed back home to Greece). I would never have -dreamed- of giving my mom a hard time because she wasn't hovering around us like the other moms did with my classmates and never went to a school function that wasn't a parent-teacher conference.

Seeing my mom work outside the home was so incredibly beneficial to me and my sister in so many ways - we learned how to be strong and independent women from my mom's example and we are better for knowing from a very early age that we could be more than just mothers and wives. I actually felt and feel bad for my friends and classmates whose moms' obsessively tracked everything they did because they had no other outlets for their intelligence and energy.

So when my mom tells me she feels a bit guilty for not having been there when we came home from school or for not being as engaged in all the social organizations that parents (especially moms) were and are still today expected to belong to, I tell her quite firmly that her working outside the home and what I learned from her example was one of the best gifts I have ever received from anyone. She still feels guilty though, and it makes me so angry that we live in a society that then and today expects women to live through their children.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:52 AM on July 2 [18 favorites]


but I feel like it's almost impossible to be raised by a highly educated professional woman and feel like you need to defer to men.

This is really it innit? Because you know and I know, especially given Nooyi's generation, just how much deferring would have been expected of her.

Plus, she's a Tam Bram, and I was married to one. That shit is fuck all. Just good for her that she is who she is and it hasn't imploded around her. He'll survive.
posted by infini at 8:54 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]


I really dislike the idea that working outside the home instead of doing the work of caring for children is seen as morally superior and sign of better strength of character. The value system that says caring for children is not important work (not as important as REAL work that independent strong awesome women do) and that people who do it posses less moral strength of character is something that I think is really problematic.
posted by xarnop at 8:56 AM on July 2 [24 favorites]


This value system is also reflected in how we pay people for these extremely ESSENTIAL societal services, or treat those who do this work as part of a familial arrangement without a specific pay check.
posted by xarnop at 8:57 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


The school / tea thing was horrendous. Schools need to stop it with anything other than the rare parent participation event and evenings only. This is something you only see in private schools and it's precious, wasteful, stupid and only serves to make people feel guilty or righteous and reinforces the sort of inane helicoptering that's already such a fucked-up phenomenon in private schools.
posted by docpops at 8:57 AM on July 2 [18 favorites]


Reality is: no one can have it all. Men are just given more of a free pass on certain matters and we pay for it.

I also had the impression she should just haul her mother off to a nursing home, a la Billy Ray Thornton carting Peter Boyle away in Monster's Ball.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:58 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


And this is not a "brutally honest reaction." It's a brutally sexist reaction.

I think the brutal honesty is about how fucking sexist societal standards are.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:58 AM on July 2 [10 favorites]


South Indian woman makes good. Really fucking good. And what do we do? Give her hell for it. Meh.

Btw, Indian mothers are the worst. Mine told me I got divorced because I hadn't been up at 5am packing lunch for him with a hot cooked meal. Whatever, I've divorced her and actually developing a relationship with my father for a change, and its really wonderful.
posted by infini at 8:59 AM on July 2 [17 favorites]


And the servants and the secretaries are being paid so this woman can focus more time on work. Today, I paid for childcare and a housekeeper so that both my husband and I could work, albeit paid waaaaaay less than the CEO of Pepsi.

Yes, and they're paid enough less that they can't afford help themselves. If you're a working class woman, you too work long hours (if you have kids) - just not very well paid long hours. You too miss 9am school coffee. You too get home late and leave early. You too don't get to supervise your child's media consumption. It's just that you don't have the money to hire anyone to help you "seamlessly parent". Et patati et patata, and so class privilege is replicated.
posted by Frowner at 8:59 AM on July 2 [44 favorites]


It really saddens me that her daughter gave her this guilt trip.

Seriously? You're holding her child accountable here rather than the school, or her own crappy behavior?
posted by OmieWise at 8:59 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


More, actually, people think that's it's emotionally fulfilling and appropriate for you to spend your energy on the boss's daughter.
posted by Frowner at 9:00 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


I am not a CEO of a company, but I can and I have assigned too much importance to my job, and in turn, my own importance in my company, which for me necessitates a diminishing sense of importance as a interactive member of my family.

Something that occurred to me the other night while I was staring into the eyes of my two-week old son at 2 AM, is that my duty to him is not to be the father/provider/friend that I think he deserves (an impossible goal), but only to be the type of person I hope he will be when he grows up.

My goal is to embody those qualities I want him to have in his life, not necessarily to attempt to give him a life I never had.

The most precious thing any of us have to give is time.

Money is a man-made resource; one that can be mined, hoarded, used wisely or foolishly, or lost and gained again.

Time, however, is universally finite. There are only so many ticks on the clock or beats of the heart, and it doesn't matter who you are or what you have.

When you spend time with someone, and they with you, and together you gladly share a dwindling resource, that is truly a gift.

One of the most impactful experiences I ever had was volunteering for a short time at a ER in Boca Raton, FL. I was briefly assigned to clean beds and equipment in the Hospice Ward, and saw many folks nearing the end of their journeys. By the belongings in the rooms and clothes and jewelry still worn by some, it was easy to tell who had more money than others.


It struck me hard, however, that regardless of available funds or closing balances of the patients there, that it was near guaranteed that anyone on that ward would've traded places with me in a second. Just to be able to leave and walk outside again, and just to have a bit more time.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:00 AM on July 2 [27 favorites]


Not sure what's tiring about it. There are cultural differences in how male and female roles are viewed within the household, full stop.

It's tiring because to me this is a very American story, and there seems to be an undercurrent of "this is a different culture, men are bad in this culture" whenever we have stories about Indians/South Asians on Metafilter.


This is really it innit? Because you know and I know, especially given Nooyi's generation, just how much deferring would have been expected of her.


Yeah, it's just like, I never learned anything about how women couldn't have any job they want, or my brother was better/smarter/more important than me, or anything like that, because I had my mother and other examples of professional women right there in front of me.

Judging from a lot of what I see on Facebook, a lot of my white peers have grown up to rush their husband's dinner of preference to the table in time for him to get home from work, which is startling to me.
posted by sweetkid at 9:00 AM on July 2 [11 favorites]


My observation, David, is that the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other.

Can I get an amen?

But, thanks for developing Coke Zero. I could drink that shit all day. So there's that.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:01 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]


hey indra, after getting the milk could you please spin-off Frito-Lay? k thx.
posted by mullacc at 9:01 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


The value system that says caring for children is not important work (not as important as REAL work that independent strong awesome women do) and that people who do it posses less moral strength of character is something that I think is really problematic.

I am fortunate in that my mother and father never denigrated or devalued the work my grandmother did, and which they themselves did to maintain our home and family. But I am also so very fortunate in learning from a very young age that I could be more than a homemaker and mother.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:04 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


But, thanks for developing Coke Zero. I could drink that shit all day. So there's that.

Wait..she's been running PepsiCo, raising her children/man-child AND developing products for the competition?
posted by mullacc at 9:06 AM on July 2 [14 favorites]


If you're a working class woman, you too work long hours (if you have kids) - just not very well paid long hours.

To be sure, this was my experience as a single parent. I missed so many school events and whatnot because, well, someone has to bring home the bacon. I passed on job opportunities that were probably more lucrative because I absolutely needed to be home in time to pick the boy up from daycare and working nights and weekends was definitively out of the question.

Work culture in America sucks.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:06 AM on July 2 [15 favorites]


Yeah, it's just like, I never learned anything about how women couldn't have any job they want, or my brother was better/smarter/more important than me, or anything like that, because I had my mother and other examples of professional women right there in front of me.

While I had to fight for everything (with mother, not father, cos I think she was working on creating a saleable product for the arranged marriage market, see previous thread lol bla bla) including choosing Science for my O Levels at age 14. She goes, if you must do science, why not choose domestic science.

I had to struggle to self actualize and exist as an individual in my own right.
posted by infini at 9:06 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


Seriously? You're holding her child accountable here rather than the school, or her own crappy behavior?

Yes? That's an incredibly hurtful thing to say to any parent. I don't see why her daughter shouldn't be held accountable for saying it, regardless of where or how she learned to expect that her mom would be going to these meetings.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:06 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Her mom is cool.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:07 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I feel like there's a difference between offering people the opportunity to find out what they most value and are good at contributing, and saying that people who do work outside the home are "more than" people who don't.

I think that may just be a phrasing issue though, and you may be saying that gender should not define the ways we contribute (which I agree with) rather than saying mothering, home-making, and childcare work is "less than" other forms of work or contributions.
posted by xarnop at 9:08 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]


Her mom is cool cruel.
posted by postcommunism at 9:09 AM on July 2 [12 favorites]


Man, that there is one awful and clickbaity headline.
posted by koeselitz at 9:13 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Yeah, if people are interpreting my comment as saying that mothering, home-making, and childcare are "less than" work outside the home that's not what I intended to say, even though I used "more than" in my comments (sorry about that). I'm saying that women shouldn't feel guilty for working outside the home and for not being as available as women who do work inside the home are.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:14 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


I don't see why her daughter shouldn't be held accountable for saying it, regardless of where or how she learned to expect that her mom would be going to these meetings.

Because her daughter, who is a child in this anecdote, is a victim in this situation? So is Nooyi, but she's the adult, and her response is to dismiss her daughter by trying to one-up her. I have no idea why you think the hurtful one in this interaction is the daughter. I think our expectations about parenting must be pretty diametrically opposed.
posted by OmieWise at 9:14 AM on July 2 [9 favorites]


Regarding the coffee thing, she responds to her child not by leveling with her: "I'm sorry, honey. I really am. I would love to be there, but sometimes I have to make sacrifices for work, and unfortunately this is one of those sacrifices. Can I make it up to you?"

But instead she goes and finds a list of other mothers who didn't attend so she can say "See? I'm not the only one. You're wrong."

She thinks it's about the coffee, but I bet it's about much more than the coffee.
posted by Team of Scientists at 9:18 AM on July 2 [31 favorites]


In 2013, Indra K. Nooyi made $13,191,805 in total compensation. She could take that money, retire, and never work another day in her life. She is financially equipped to devote, literally, 100% of her waking hours to her family, if she chose to do so. And yet she has not. Why not?

I have absolutely no sympathy for Ms. Nooyi, nor would I have any for an equally wealthy male CEO who complained about having no time to spend with his family.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:18 AM on July 2 [53 favorites]


What this story is really about, is the absorption and passing along of deeply sexist values between women. It's too bad that her mother was the worst sexist in her life.

And it's really too bad that the reporter could not recognize it as such, and thus passed along (the irony!) the sexism, under the guise of a nominally feminist story. Ugh.
posted by Dashy at 9:18 AM on July 2 [10 favorites]


I think there is a little bit of disconnect though in terms of how we understand children's needs. If mothering is valuable work, than how can it not matter whether mothers spend time with their children or not?
posted by xarnop at 9:18 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


It really saddens me that her daughter gave her this guilt trip.

Really? A child does not inherently understand the value in a parent working. They often just understand that Susie's mom is there and their mom isn't.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:19 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]


I don't think Nooyi was trying to one up her daughter at all. I think she was trying to show her that she was not the only child whose mother was not available to attend those meetings.

I think our expectations about parenting must be pretty diametrically opposed.

Perhaps, but I don't think expecting children to refrain from giving their parents a guilt trip is that remarkable.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:20 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Because her daughter isn't completely blameless. Yes, she's being used by the school as a means of shaming the mother, but she doesn't have to be.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:22 AM on July 2


She could take that money, retire, and never work another day in her life. She is financially equipped to devote, literally, 100% of her waking hours to her family, if she chose to do so. And yet she has not. Why not?

Because she's worked very, very hard to get where she is, finds it fulfilling and a good use of her time and knowledge and energy, and is an ambitious person who doesn't want to give up all that she's achieved so she can play homemaker? Why didn't Steve Jobs quit his job to be a stay at home father?
posted by naju at 9:23 AM on July 2 [59 favorites]


Yes, she's being used by the school as a means of shaming the mother

Is it the school? Or is grandma whispering in her ear? Wouldn't surprise me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:23 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


A child does not inherently understand the value in a parent working.

Sorry, this was something I learned from a very early age from my parents, so if it's not typical for most kids to learn this fairly early on, my bad.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:24 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


given that he was unwilling to go out and get a goddamn gallon of milk.
Is that a given? The article says he wasn't asked, and her mother implies that asking him would have interrupted his rest (i.e. that he would have been willing).
posted by roystgnr at 9:24 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Why didn't Steve Jobs quit his job to be a stay at home father?

Because he was a goddamn sociopath, that's why.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:25 AM on July 2 [49 favorites]


If mothering is valuable work, than how can it not matter whether mothers spend time with their children or not?

The people you should be asking this question are fathers, because we think fathering is valuable work, but in the vast majority of cases, including my own, we go to work in the morning, we come home at night, we don't go to class coffees, and we just about never worry about whether these things make us "bad fathers" or constitute "hard choices." Nor do magazine articles worry about this on our behalf.
posted by escabeche at 9:26 AM on July 2 [43 favorites]


Is that a given? The article says he wasn't asked

Yes, this is a good point. Sorry if I seemed to be bashing the husband in this scenario. We really don't know his views. But I think it's safe to say he's not actually carrying out the role of the "corporate wife" in the scenario described, whether or not he'd in principle be willing to.
posted by escabeche at 9:27 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


This article is a mess. The only way it would make sense is if you riffed off her mother's actions to talk about feminism, or riffed off the brutal reality of life at the top of Pepsico to talk about capitalism.

As it is, it's just a disjointed collection of horrible things that hint at much larger problems but can either be read as "CEO has shitty family" or "CEO is horrible mom" when the reality is a lot more complicated.
posted by emjaybee at 9:29 AM on July 2 [14 favorites]


There is no way an Indian mother in law would ask the son in law to do *anything*... the whole milk run was exactly as someone upthread analyzed. A power play to demonstrate who's boss and to undermine Nooyi's achievement so that she knew her place.

Forget teh outside world and the glass ceiling, your own female relatives will be teh first to cut you off at the knees.
posted by infini at 9:29 AM on July 2 [26 favorites]


Debaser626: "When you spend time with someone, and they with you, and together you gladly share a dwindling resource, that is truly a gift."

To quote one of those inspirational posters: That's why we call it "the present".
posted by chavenet at 9:30 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Which is Yet Another Example Of Women As Enforcers Of Their Own Oppression.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:31 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


She could take that money, retire, and never work another day in her life. She is financially equipped to devote, literally, 100% of her waking hours to her family, if she chose to do so. And yet she has not. Why not?

Because she's worked very, very hard to get where she is, finds it fulfilling and a good use of her time and knowledge and energy, and is an ambitious person who doesn't want to give up all that she's achieved so she can play homemaker? Why didn't Steve Jobs quit his job to be a stay at home father?
Then own that decision. Which I didn't see in TFA.
posted by k5.user at 9:31 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


If a woman's primary identity is derived from her motherhood, it can be difficult to let go when the children get married.
posted by infini at 9:33 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


This is in stark contrast to India, where sons-in-law are treated as honored guests; gifts of God really. Parents of the bride address their son-in-law using the respectful honorific (aap instead of the more egalitarian and casual tu) even if the man in question is 30 years younger than they are. The son-in-law is waited upon, made to feel special, and occupies a perch that is far above the humdrum of household life. Certainly, he does not do chores. Indian women of the previous generation were horrified if the son-in-law entered the kitchen. It was as if a guest walked into a restaurant kitchen unannounced. In the hierarchy of the joint family, the son-in-law was the top dog—even above the family patriarch. The daughter-in-law, in contrast, was at the bottom of the pile, something that the feminist in me resented—and resents to this day.
posted by infini at 9:34 AM on July 2 [9 favorites]


A child does not inherently understand the value in a parent working. They often just understand that Susie's mom is there and their mom isn't.

Susie’s mom is there because Susie’s dad is at work, which allows Susie’s mom to stay home and attend school events at 9 AM. I wonder if the school hosted these breakfasts for fathers too.

My mother always worked. I never viewed it as a hardship at all. She wasn’t home when I got home from school but I knew she’d be home later.


She could take that money, retire, and never work another day in her life. She is financially equipped to devote, literally, 100% of her waking hours to her family, if she chose to do so. And yet she has not. Why not?

This is true of every highly-paid executive in the world. Should Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Jay Z, et al., all stay home since they can afford to.
posted by shoesietart at 9:35 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


So, tell me, what does "owning that decision" entails exactly? Because it seems that means accepting the judgement and scorn of a society that says that no matter what she does, a woman's role is always in the home.

Which is screwed up.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:35 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


I'll tell you a story that happened when my daughter went to Catholic school. Every Wednesday morning they had class coffee with the mothers. Class coffee for a working woman — how is it going to work? How am I going to take off 9 o'clock on Wednesday mornings? So I missed most class coffees.

And yet plenty of people, both men and women, do exactly this. In fact it's much, much easier than for most for a senior manager like her to simply block a couple of work hours out as personal time, have meetings scheduled around it, and balance work and home responsibilities.
It's fine if she simply chooses not to participate in these school events, but for someone in her position to claim that she *can't* is ridiculous.
posted by rocket88 at 9:39 AM on July 2 [17 favorites]


This is true of every highly-paid executive in the world. Should Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Jay Z, et al., all stay home since they can afford to.

What, and let the childless people run the world?! Or maybe we could all just take turns filling the roles for a year or so, to limit our time away? I'd like a shot about being Jay-Z.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:40 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


This is true of every highly-paid executive in the world. Should Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Jay Z, et al., all stay home since they can afford to.

In Larry Ellison's case I am only not saying "dear God yes" because I felt a pang of compassion for his family.
posted by Jpfed at 9:41 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]


Should Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Jay Z, et al., all stay home since they can afford to.

That depends; do they have children? I don't care what gender you are; if you're caring for offspring and you spend one minute at work more than it takes to earn the money to afford the lifestyle you think they deserve, you're a maniac. And if, for some reason, you're compelled to devote every waking moment to money-making, then get yourself sterilized, because any children you do spawn are going to grow up with a shortage of role models and way too much money, and it's people like that who have caused just about all the problems in the world today.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:41 AM on July 2 [12 favorites]


This article is a mess. The only way it would make sense is if you riffed off her mother's actions to talk about feminism, or riffed off the brutal reality of life at the top of Pepsico to talk about capitalism.

As it is, it's just a disjointed collection of horrible things that hint at much larger problems but can either be read as "CEO has shitty family" or "CEO is horrible mom" when the reality is a lot more complicated.


1) the article is essentially the transcript of an interview. There's no neat theme because it's just someone talking

2) if the article were less messy, it would be less true and less interesting. Tying it all up in a neat little bow of "sexism bad" and/or "capitalism bad" is trite and shallow. Because while sexism bad, capitalism bad, ambition good. Leadership good. Pathbreaking good. Don't we want little girls to think they too can grow up to lead some of the world's biggest and most influential institutions (which a global Fortune 500 company like PepsiCo certainly counts as)? We want women in the halls of power, do we not? Well, guess what: you don't get to do those things and also be mother of the year. Maybe not even without putting your job before you family, much of the time.

You can make the other choice, say that the people you love will always be more important to you than any job. That's an admirable value to hold, and many people, perhaps the majority of women, share it. But then you don't get power.
posted by Diablevert at 9:42 AM on July 2 [12 favorites]


Judging from a lot of what I see on Facebook, a lot of my white peers have grown up to rush their husband's dinner of preference to the table in time for him to get home from work, which is startling to me.

It is startling to me, too, as someone who's probably your white peer. And they have all, every one of them, taken their husbands' last names. Not a hyphen in the lot. (Which might be more understandable for the couples where each person has a hyphenated name already, because dear god, that's a long-ass last name...but that's not what's going on.)

Signing on with those who think the only "brutal honesty" in the article is that no matter what women do, we're gonna get it. From our own mothers, even, if the rest of society somehow hasn't managed the task.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:49 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


This is the same woman who calls people's families to get them to work for her.

We had an employee who we were trying to hire. Absolute high-potential chap. He had an offer from another company down the road from us, and I wanted him real bad….He was a tough guy to hire. So I said, okay, I’m going to call his mom. (laughter) So I call his mom, and she didn’t know who I was. I introduced myself and I said, “Let me describe the situation,” and I said, “Let me tell you why coming to PepsiCo is going to be the right career decision for your son.”

So the son goes home — he has no clue I called his mom — and he says, “I’m looking at these two offers, Mom, and I’m close to accepting the other one.” And she goes, “No. You’re accepting PepsiCo.” He goes, “Since when did you know anything about PepsiCo?” And the mom said, “She called me, your CEO called me.” And this boy goes, “I had no choice!” (laughter) Can you imagine going home every day after that and a mom goes, “but you should have accepted that offer!”


She has no boundaries.
posted by winna at 9:51 AM on July 2 [33 favorites]


I found it interesting that the president of Pepsi-co has a family that drinks milk. The one type of beverage that Pepsi doesn't sell in America.
posted by srboisvert at 9:54 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]



You know what? If powerful, work-oriented people want to have families, that's their right. Just because you were brought up in a household in which one or both parents had high-powered jobs, it doesn't mean you weren't loved, or wanted, or that you were somehow robbed of some important moments in childhood.

I remember once I was in a school play. I asked my parents to come see me in it. Dad couldn't make it, so Mom took time off from work to come watch me. But something happened and my cue never came and I didn't get to be in the play. I was DEVASTATED. Because I knew my mom made the effort to be there, and she didn't get to see me. She told me it was okay. But I always felt guilty about it. I don't think she'd even remember this little blip in our 52+ years of knowing each other. But even when I was seven, I knew that taking off work was a BIG DEAL.

I know that the executives I work with really take time to be with their families, to coach sports, to go to cheer competitions, to take their kids camping, to do the important stuff with them.

Frankly, the answer to the kid's whining about Mom not being able to make to Mother's Coffee shouldn't have been, "Lots of mothers didn't make it" it should have been, "That's a ridiculous hold-over from a by-gone sexist era. Why isn't it Parent's Coffee? Why is the school doing it at all? In fact, let's you and I make an appointment to address it with the Headmaster next week."

But you do what you can, and you try to make it work. Her kids may be giving her grief, because that's what kids do. If both parents were around the house 24/7 devoting their lives to their children, the kids would be screaming, "You're suffocating me!"

No parent is perfect, no childhood is perfect. But I'll tell you this, as much of a neurotic, narcissitic mess my mother was/is, it would have been 1000% worse if she had to stay home with us kids. She needed to work, and got a lot of personal satisfaction from it.

Parents are people too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:54 AM on July 2 [38 favorites]


Oh! Also, fwiw, I too grew up with the *very* concrete knowledge that my mom worked so that we could have food and a roof over our heads, and that any guilt trips about PTA meetings or school functions or what have you would have been an incredibly shitty thing to do. However, if my folks had been astronomically wealthy, and I had half a brain, I would probably find it hard to believe that my mother was so thoroughly hands-tied as to never be able to make a single event.

I also understand her response, though I think she delivered it badly. If her message was, "some moms can come to these, others can't...see, I'm not the only one! It's normal, and it doesn't reflect on you" ...well, that's honest and not a bad lesson for her kid to learn. But instead she put it in a way where everyone would take as, "so what, other moms don't give a shit either, why should I?"
posted by like_a_friend at 9:55 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this is a crappy situation that would be different if she were a guy. Rather than blamestorming, I'm going to continue try to see ways big and small to make it a little more equal around my own life.

It'll probably take generations before things are equally crappy across all genders, but I'm sure we can get there.
posted by poe at 9:58 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


That depends; do they have children? I don't care what gender you are; if you're caring for offspring and you spend one minute at work more than it takes to earn the money to afford the lifestyle you think they deserve, you're a maniac. And if, for some reason, you're compelled to devote every waking moment to money-making, then get yourself sterilized, because any children you do spawn are going to grow up with a shortage of role models and way too much money, and it's people like that who have caused just about all the problems in the world today.

You just effectively murdered hundreds of children by sucking up their parent's quality time because they were reading your comment.
posted by srboisvert at 10:01 AM on July 2 [11 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, ANYONE, male or female, who feels it necessary to continue working after having made 13 million dollars, is confused as to what life is all about. Were I to have even one million dollars, I would never work again. There is so much more to life than working or 'achievement' --- love, family, learning, art, creation, pets, travel, acts of charity. I don't understand why anyone would continue to work long hours and neglect those they love to do so if it were not financially necessary. The less time in life I have left, the more I feel this to be the case.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 10:02 AM on July 2 [16 favorites]


There are very very few secretaries that spend half the year traveling for corporate meetings, working full-time weekends, and working from 9pm-midnight once they get home. And if they do, it's by choice, since that's an atypical secretary job.

Don't be silly, secretarial demands do not match up to CEO in terms of time. I wouldn't be a CEO for that reason, but not everything has to be a working class one-up on executives. Just because people are successful and have money doesn't mean they can't have absurdly demanding lives.
posted by jjmoney at 10:07 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I was raised by a very discontented mother who put all thoughts of a career aside to stay home with the kids. She was not suited to it, temperamentally or in any other way. It was hellish.

Luckily, people can do whatever they want, regardless of how much money they have. I can't believe this thread is devolving into "how can she want to work when she has CHILDREN?!?!?!".
posted by mynameisluka at 10:09 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


I'm going to humbly suggest that few here can truly understand the path she's taken through life. To rise up from humble origins, in sexist and racist societies, to become Forbes' 13th most powerful woman in the world - that's not nothing. To be a powerful woman minority with influence and stature - to be a role model for hundreds of millions, not just her kids - that's about more than just making money. Sometimes a career means something. Seriously, suggesting that she resign to focus on children, pets, and travel strikes me as mildly insulting and more than a bit gendered, even if that's not the intention.
posted by naju at 10:10 AM on July 2 [64 favorites]


In 2013, Indra K. Nooyi made $13,191,805 in total compensation. She could take that money, retire, and never work another day in her life. She is financially equipped to devote, literally, 100% of her waking hours to her family, if she chose to do so. And yet she has not. Why not?

Because $11.5M of that is subject to three year vesting and performance hurdles. She could earn 0% to 175% of that amount based on a handful of metrics. Details are in PepsiCo's proxy.

I'm sure she still has enough vested/paid wealth from prior comp periods to fund a luxurious retirement but it didn't come from the quote figure.
posted by mullacc at 10:11 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


I honestly weep with exhaustion over this article and the following discussion. My grandmother worked full time because it was necessary and she was constantly told she was horrible wife and mother for liking her work.

My mother worked full time because the money helped and she honestly liked working. I remember classmates teasing me because my mom worked and wouldn't be home during the day. I remember how angry and frustrated it made me that they dared to presume that their mother was better just because she didn't work. My mom made cupcakes all the damn time, packed my lunch, made costumes, and whatever else that was required. And she worked 40 hours.

One of the many reasons I chose not to have children was because I didn't want to deal with judgey bullshit of yet another generation of jerks telling me that wanting to work was wrong and I should be completely fulfilled by a kid. Screw that.

And for the love all that is right and just in the world can we please stop telling parents that wanting to be good at something in addition to being a parent is wrong. It's the 21st century. We can be good at working and still be good parents.

My folks were great parents. And they're both damn good teachers. Why the hell should they be required to be only one thing? Where there times that my folks' jobs made them unavailable to me as their child? Sure. But there were times I know they chose me over the job. It's a balance and it's about teamwork. Saying you still have to choose being a parent over everything else in the world is repressive bullshit.
posted by teleri025 at 10:12 AM on July 2 [16 favorites]


There are very very few secretaries that spend half the year traveling for corporate meetings, working full-time weekends, and working from 9pm-midnight once they get home. And if they do, it's by choice, since that's an atypical secretary job.

Do you actually know any executive administrative assistants?

Because if you work for a CEO, that is not an unusual level of commitment.
posted by winna at 10:13 AM on July 2 [10 favorites]


Faint of Butt: I don't care what gender you are; if you're caring for offspring and you spend one minute at work more than it takes to earn the money to afford the lifestyle you think they deserve, you're a maniac.

There are many forms of mania. You're throwing shade at one while demonstrating another.

So your work is something you do solely to make money, so that you can afford a certain lifestyle: welp, that situation isn't true for many people.

At all places along the socioeconomic spectrum, from Ms. Nooyi to poor artist folks, people find worth and value in their work, and want to demonstrate those values for their offspring.
posted by sixswitch at 10:14 AM on July 2 [12 favorites]


I seriously doubt that encouraging more people to drink pepsi is actually about doing good in the world. The obsession with climbing corporate ladders at the destruction of the public, the environment, laborers, and ones own family- and then expected to be seen as of higher financial value and moral character than everyone else- is a pathology previously relegated to men and now being handed over to women in the name of gender equality.
posted by xarnop at 10:17 AM on July 2 [17 favorites]


This is such a weird thread! Sad to say, you can't be a CEO in the Western Corporate world without making sacrifices. If you can't make sacrifices, then you can't be a CEO. There's nothing inherently wrong with making one decision over the other.

Male or female, if you're a CEO, there's a good chance that you're going to have to neglect yourself, your family, your friends, your health, or a combination of all of the above.

It seems that Mrs. Nooyi's only mistake here was to agree to talk about being a parent, while being CEO.

But I wonder, how many articles exist where male CEOs talk about parenting?
In that regard, we're all Mrs. Nooyi's mother, telling her to go out to get the milk.

So all of us who want to see more women in powerful positions are all "yay!", while all us anti-corporate types are saying "Mrs. Nooyi is a horrible person because she is a terrible mother".

The truth is it's the CEO position that is horrible. And it's the author of this article who is horrible for shining this unjust light upon her without submitting her male counterparts to the same scrutiny.
posted by bitteroldman at 10:18 AM on July 2 [19 favorites]


I seriously doubt that encouraging more people to drink pepsi is actually about doing good in the world. The obsession with climbing corporate ladders at the destruction of the public, the environment, laborers, and ones own family- and then expected to be seen as of higher financial value and moral character than everyone else- is a pathology previously relegated to men and now being handed over to women in the name of gender equality.

You think the commitment level required is less to be, say, a Senator? A leading neurosurgeon? A four star general? The executive director of Planned Parenthood? Directing a blockbuster? So you think Pepsi's not important enough to dedicate a life to. So what? Is nothing? No cause outside the self? Nothing outside the four walls of a home? Because ultimately what we're talking about here isn't Pepsi per se. It's what is required to carve a place on the biggest stage. Billions at stake, millions watching, your decision. Somebody's decision, anyway. Why not a woman's? Those stakes are going to be played for. Do we not want some XXs in there, holding the cards?
posted by Diablevert at 10:26 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I'm all for spending more time with family, but the reality is, if we all worked 40-hour weeks, we'd never be where we are today, from a technological, social, political, and scientific breakthrough point of view.

If I learned anything from the Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, is that in addition to brains, it was tireless passion and dedication that opened the door to progress. And that probably meant, hours in the lab, hours pouring over books, and neglected spouses and children.

Was it right? Should they have sacrificed the greater good of society to be better parents and companions?

True you can't compare the proliferation of Pepsi products to the discovery of electricity, but at what point do you say that the personal endeavour is more honourable than duties to the family?
posted by bitteroldman at 10:27 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


These comments make me sick.

Why are we using such vitriol on each other (suggesting sterilization, etc.) when we could be snarking the outside?

Thanks for the links, infini and winna. I'll post a coherent response once I'm more stable.
posted by halifix at 10:27 AM on July 2


Wait, since when does having children mean you cannot have a passion for work? And at the level she's at, that can be seriously exciting work to do. It's not as morally pretty as being a surgeon or teacher, but business management can be challenging and fascinating work.

It's not just about climbing corporate ladders - I know two women who occupy very senior positions in multinationals. One has a house-husband and child, another has a husband with his own professional career (she outearns him massively though) and no kids. Both of them do 'business' with huge decisions about closing and opening companies, moving entire factories between countries, training managers across cultures, calculating financial risks - when they talk about their work, their faces light up and they have so much to say, and it's really a pleasure because they're very good at what they do (as far as I can measure from both their professional success, other people in the industries talking about them and the quality of the advice they've given me on work issues) and love their careers.

Business doesn't mean unethical.

If someone gave me $13 million, I probably would not spend more time with my kids, to their disappointment. I wish I had more time to work. Work makes me happy and sane. My husband would happily retire tomorrow however.

Nooyi's not a bad parent for working intensively if her kids grew up loved and taken care of. Maybe she wasn't the main provider of that care by choice. Not all moms want to be the primary parent.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:28 AM on July 2 [16 favorites]


I usually miss these work/family discussions because by the time I have a minute, everyone's done and gone from the thread.

I find the gender expectations around mothering to be toxic, generally, and especially around the working issue. I work because I am highly educated, highly paid and really like my work. I kept my name. I never even considered of staying home with my kids. But in my DC suburb, I feel like a complete anomaly. "All the other mothers" at my kids' schools (some of whom are my friends and truly lovely people) took their husbands names, quit teaching or similar low paid jobs upon having children, stay at home, and volunteer heavily. Elementary schools (public anyway) wouldn't run without the volunteer labor expected of women. They may judge me for going to work instead of volunteering weekly at the library, running the brownie troop, or being room mom or team mom, or chaperoning every field trip.

But I probably judge myself more. I once actually asked my book club to "authorize" me to purchase a costume for "dress like the person you've just spent the semester doing research on" day. That's how bad I felt. And I couldn't sew or craft even if I had all the time in the world and an ounce of interest.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was the mindset around listing other mothers who don't attend the weekly 9 am coffee in the story. That's just ridiculous. If you hold anything other than a one time event for working parents, you do it outside working hours. But schools in general are set up with no expectation that parents, especially moms, have any other obligtisons.

To sum up this rambling point: the atmosphere around mothering is toxic. You can't win.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:31 AM on July 2 [20 favorites]


I am in nowhere near her class of worker but I totally identified with this woman.
posted by Lynsey at 10:33 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I seriously doubt that encouraging more people to drink pepsi is actually about doing good in the world.

Obviously Nootyi wouldn't agree that "encouraging more people to drink pepsi" is the good she is trying to accomplish. She would probably say selling sugar water generates wealth for shareholders and jobs for employees.

It's worth noting that PepsiCo's largest shareholder is the Vanguard Group. Search AskMe for Vanguard and it's fairly easy to imagine that Nootyi feels she has a duty to contribute to the financial well-being of millions of people.
posted by mullacc at 10:35 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


But, thanks for developing Coke Zero. I could drink that shit all day. So there's that.

Wait..she's been running PepsiCo, raising her children/man-child AND developing products for the competition?


Oh right whoops... I see pepsi and immediately think Coke. Guess I got a 1-track mind.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:35 AM on July 2


Oh right whoops... I see pepsi and immediately think Coke. Guess I got a 1-track mind.

It must confuse the hell out of waiters when she orders a Pepsi instead of a Coke. The restaurants surrouding PepsiCo's HQ must be the only places in the country where "Would Coke be okay?" is a frequently asked question.
posted by mullacc at 10:38 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Nooyi's not a bad parent for working intensively if her kids grew up loved and taken care of.

No, she's a bad parent because her daughters obviously miss having her in their lives, which she says they've expressed on many occasions, and the response has been - too bad, so sad.

Yes, let's let my secretary be your parent. Let's draw in the extended family. Coffee for parents at school? Can't be bothered with that petty nonsense, I need to go fulfill myself.

Volunteers at school? You'd better fall down on your knees and thank those mothers AND FATHERS (of which I am one), because without them, your taxes would be SIGNIFICANTLY higher, or your school district would go without the programs they help make possible.

This goes for mothers and fathers: Your children, generally, want you to be a part of their lives, a big part, and though that may diminish as they get older, the desire still exists, to be able to command your attention. If you have little to no attention to devote to your children, or if your career pursuits are more important than your children - don't have them.

Period.
posted by kgasmart at 10:39 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


I wish taste tests were back in style because I can totally differentiate between pepsi, coke, diet coke and coke zero.

And while we're on that topic, between dasani and evian. Dasani FTW!! (also owned by coke but I swear it just tastes better)

Back to the topic though, I was impressed that they called her & said she was being elected CEO as opposed to some Cesarian back-room takedown that I thought happened at these top companies.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:41 AM on July 2


To sum up this rambling point: the atmosphere around mothering is toxic. You can't win.

Which is what I got from the article. This CEO can't win, and if she can't, with her help at home and secretaries at work, then maybe we should accept that we can't win as well and accept an honourable draw or defeat. Like the USA soccer team at the world cup. They gave it their all and came up short, can we not just celebrate what they have achieved?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:42 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]


Elementary schools (public anyway) wouldn't run without the volunteer labor expected of women.

I wonder if this is really true, at least in more affluent areas. If there were suddenly no volunteer mothers, would the school really cut back on necessities? Or would they just have fewer coffees but suddenly find money to hire people -- probably also women who really need the jobs -- for the important stuff? And perhaps develop a less sexist culture, one that doesn't perpetually expect mothers to be on call? It sounds like private schools are the worst offenders in this area anyway.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 10:43 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


Which is what I got from the article. This CEO can't win, and if she can't, with her help at home and secretaries at work, then maybe we should accept that we can't win as well and accept an honourable draw or defeat.

By "we" do you mean "women"? Or "everyone"? Because if it's everyone, the world of work is going to have to change by a lot. If you mean "women" then...that's a problem.
posted by emjaybee at 10:45 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Poor African mothers work far longer hours, far harder hours, in the fields, just to feed, clothe and school their kids. They often carry their baby on their back.

The luxury of "staying home to look after kids" is an expectation developed in the Fifties... see Stepford wives.

The Edwardians/Victorians et al completely ignored their children, put them out to nanny if they were wealthy or put them out to work if they were not.
posted by infini at 10:45 AM on July 2 [11 favorites]



There are very very few secretaries that spend half the year traveling for corporate meetings, working full-time weekends, and working from 9pm-midnight once they get home. And if they do, it's by choice, since that's an atypical secretary job.


The point is that we have so arranged society that if you are rich, your kids can have the "seamless parenting" experience, and if you are not rich your kids must catch-as-catch-can. I personally don't especially care what this woman does with her time; I care very much that she is catered to by people who are also working extremely long hours* who themselves must neglect their families in order to provide her and hers with support. And I care that the women who clean the floors at PepsiCo are almost certainly making shit wages and working two jobs, and therefore even less able to be present for their children or provide compensating social interaction.

The point is, we've decided that the children of the rich deserve either the presence of their parents or an elaborate social web to make up for their parents' absence, but the children of the poor can just go hang. We've decided that poor women can spend their time serving the rich and their children while being deprived of time with their own children. That's "feminism" and "equality" like Margaret Thatcher was feminism and equality.

*If you think the secretary to a high-powered person (and probably her secretary, and probably several other flunkies at progressively lower paygrades) isn't working long, long hours....why, the secretary to the dean of the dental school here was routinely working Saturday nights the last time I checked. And as much as it's an excellent school, it's also a lot smaller than PepsiCo.
posted by Frowner at 10:49 AM on July 2 [12 favorites]


if your career pursuits are more important than your children - don't have them.

Requiring lifelong celibacy to attain a position of authority has worked out extremely badly for the Catholic Church, I don't know why you think it'd go better if expanded to all secular forms of leadership.
posted by Diablevert at 10:49 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


Elementary schools (public anyway) wouldn't run without the volunteer labor expected of women.

I wonder if this is really true, at least in more affluent areas. If there were suddenly no volunteer mothers, would the school really cut back on necessities? Or would they just have fewer coffees but suddenly find money to hire people -- probably also women who really need the jobs -- for the important stuff? And perhaps develop a less sexist culture, one that doesn't perpetually expect mothers to be on call? It sounds like private schools are the worst offenders in this area anyway.


Maybe I exaggerated a bit. The poorer schools just make do with less volunteer work to smooth out the rough edges. No one to help non-readers pick out their library books (a nice perk!), plan and host the valentines and end of year parties, fundraise so the school can have assemblies with speakers and magicians, purchase smartboards for every classroom, generally provide enriching environment. Some of that may be offset by extra title I funding, though. I don't know the economics of Title I well.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:55 AM on July 2


It's bizarre to me that we live in a country (and world in general) where we have vastly expanded the population of highly trained and highly educated people, and yet we cling to these past-the-post, winner-take-all methods of assigning wealth, power and position, where a select few work long hours for the biggest piece of the pie. We should be spreading both income and responsibility to more people, not fewer.

But I don't think any kind of change like that is going be initiated by Corporate America- if a board offered the typical Fortune 500 executive the opportunity to split his/her role and work half as much, would they do it...even if they would still earn more than 99% of humanity?
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 10:59 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


No, she's a bad parent

i don't think you can definitively say this is true based on this article. Also there's a lot more context in the video, about her kids, her parents, and her insights at Pepsi.
posted by sweetkid at 11:00 AM on July 2


Sorry, this was something I learned from a very early age from my parents, so if it's not typical for most kids to learn this fairly early on, my bad.

I don't think it's possible that you did, but okay. You were way more mature than the majority of little kids.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:09 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


I think your reading of my comment is uncharitable. Pursuit of money and power is not something I find admirable in men or women. Aside from 'travel and pets' I also mentioned learning, art, and acts of charity, all of which I see as far more intrinsically valuable than climbing the corporate ladder and accumulating wealth. I really do not understand why anyone, regardless of gender, would put money and prestige ahead of meaningful relationships with other humans. I have very little empathy for those who have chosen that path, while accumulating more possessions and wealth than any person needs. This applies equally to Sting, Steve Jobs, the Walton family, the Koch brothers, and this woman. It's not a matter of gender to me at all. It's a matter of valuing human relations, especially with our families, over material wealth and the illusion of power. The reality for most people is that working long hours is necessary for survival and most people really regret that they don't have more time for the things that they find fulfilling because they're engaged in this daily struggle to meet basic needs, and they have to sacrifice things in order to meet those needs. This family is not in that situation and they have choices that are not an option for most people. Being the CEO of a multi-national company that markets pop and chips is not admirable or helpful to humanity in any way and there is no nobility in that, regardless of gender.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 11:17 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


To me, this is a frustrating way to present the issue of women's work life balance. Many women are fighting tooth and nail for more rights to be WITH their children, and the women who make it to positions of power tend to be women who were comfortable giving up that time with their children to cultivate the education and time investment to get a powerful career. They wind up being the women we hear from in the "women's work life balance" debate when women who would love to stay at home with their children but are not allowed to because feminists keep saying "children don't need their mom's at home, it doesn't matter!!" makes the idea of taking financial assistance to stay at home with your kids a nonsensical option at best and a shitty harmful thing to do more commonly.

I often hear it stated that it doesn't matter how much time children spend with their parents but I often hear that asserted by women who chose not to value that and who thus have the financial and social power gained from that sacrifices to make their perspective on children's needs dominate the debate of child welfare and motherhood/work balance.

I completely agree that fathers should be asked to spend more time with kids and on household duties, that mothers should be able to find out that they aren't as good at parenting as other tasks and to find a different job- however I dislike the idea that people should expect to be paid higher for the work they do outside the home than to hire someone to take over a large portion of the actual parental duties. Parents who do this expect better pay than the surrogate parents, and they expect the social recognition for being the "real parents" even if they just come home and see their kids for a few hours a day, if that.

Meanwhile poor women are forced to work as much as possible and often have to leave their children at home in the afternoons, times when crime rates go up, kids get involved in gangs because they're raising themselves while their parents are stuck at work, no one helps them with study skills or making responsible decisions, and then while the wealthy can afford enrichment activities and nannies, and EMOTIONALLY supportive caregivers, proposals to help the poor include things like sending their children to school full time 24/7 without ever even having a summer. Which, while it may very well be an improvement it reflects a total lack of value of these children's needs for emotional attachments with caregivers who aren't just being paid to spend time with them.

The idea of supplementing low income parents to this work that many of them desperately want to do anyway is really damaged by claiming that parenting duties aren't really all that important and how much time parents spend with their kids just isn't that important as if that's the big social justice issue all mothers want to be fighting for. The majority of mothers are scrambling at the bottom, not at the top debating which servant will take on the things she can't be there for or trying to prove to the world that the fact that she values work more than time with her kids is because the world is being sexist against her.

And having these women who make it to the top by shitting on the bonds with their families does NOT trickle down to other women.

I'm only taking women because we're talking mother's rights and feminism but I think it's on fathers as well to prioritize their children's emotional welfare and need for support and to take part in making that happen by doing the work themselves or ensuring someone else is doing that work and contributing to that person being able to do that work with financial support.
posted by xarnop at 11:22 AM on July 2 [14 favorites]


I don't think it's possible that you did, but okay.


Well, I did. This is funny, but besides learning of the value of work from my parents, I have a distinct memory of reading Russell Hoban's Bedtime for Frances in which little Frances learns that everything in the world has a job. That fact, that everyone works, even little kids (at being little kids), made such an impression on me that I can still remember the illustrations from that book, thirty plus years later.

Admittedly, I may have been an odd child. But I've seen other kids who are pretty aware even at very young ages of the importance of work and its role in their parents' lives. That their parents have roles outside of being daddy and mommy. It was really helpful for me to learn this as early as I did.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:23 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


Faint of Butt: "I don't care what gender you are; if you're caring for offspring and you spend one minute at work more than it takes to earn the money to afford the lifestyle you think they deserve, you're a maniac. "

My wife works. We could probably squeak by on just my salary. Is she a maniac for wanting to have a fulfilling career, and not staying home with our kids?

Furthermore, she is a psychiatrist. She chose that path because there are a lot of people in her life who have struggled with mental illness, and she wanted to be a positive influence on the world and people like them. Was she a maniac for not choosing a specialty with more regular office hours?

Furthermore, once she is an attending physician, I could probably quit *my* job. Am I a maniac for not necessarily wanting to be a stay at home father?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:25 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


Y'all are assuming she had a choice about whom to marry and whether she wanted to or not, and subsequently kids.

In her community, they find spouses by horoscope matching.
posted by infini at 11:25 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Also many women I know feel like the bond they have after birthing and nursing their children and spending years at home with them is something they want, and that it was an extension of a bond that was already developing in pregnancy. This may need special protections for mothers who do have that kind of bond and want to protect but may need legal and financial policies in place to support those relationships.

My mother was a full time worker and my father was a stay at home dad for many years, and I completely support families finding out that things like this work for them. I just find that the needs of corporate parents make no sense to me as a lower income woman and mother and yet they are often more influential at setting the type of discussions and media attentions mother rights and responsibilities are given.
posted by xarnop at 11:26 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Thank you so much for posting this. I feel these discussions are so important. To me, the key issues here, that resonate most with me personally, are how little we as a society appreciate the effort it takes to make your family a priority, and how much we judge women who make choices we don't agree with. That the judgment comes from either decision, attempting to balance work and family OR dedicating yourself to raising children, and yet still be valued as an individual? Even today, I just don't think many men experience that. There's even a third dimension, not addressed here, which is the guilt many women who choose not to marry or not to have children are made to feel as well.

I found this snippet from another interview with Indra Nooyi interesting:

"[She] says she made several sacrifices in managing her career and her family. But, in an interview with WSJ, she says every time her kids called during work, she would stop to take those calls. Even when those were only to ask her if they could play Nintendo. Nooyi credits her husband for his support; she says he took on half of her workload at home so she could continue building her career."

Nothing there about the secretary putting the daughter through a series of questions first or instead of putting the call through to Mom, a point which also grated on me. I wonder which version is closer to the truth? Maybe one of those secretaries spoke up about how helping to regulate Nooyi's daughter's Nintendo use was not in their job description. I hope so. Secretaries are trying to balance their lives, too.

I would like to think that any parent at Pepsi has the freedom to answer the phone when their children want to talk to them, but I doubt it. I would like to read that Indra Nooyi, recognizing the difficulty other parents face, has instituted generous family leave policies. But then, I would like to see any CEO, male or female, do this. Unfortunately, most don't get where they are unless they put the bottom line first, and that means maximizing profits for their shareholders.

I do give major props to her husband, Raj, who it does seem is filling the job of, as termed above, the corporate wife, despite being pretty busy in the corporate world himself.

That judginess I mentioned? I do it too, even though I have been a victim of it myself, having chosen to stay home with my children (and yes, also take my husband's name). I found myself wondering why Nooyi's reaction to the coffee klatches was not, as an influential and confident woman, organizing her own parent meetings in the evenings to discuss school issues with the other parents and their kids. I questioned why she was so concerned with her daughter's Nintendo use, anyway. But that's my own biases coming out, so I checked them, and when I found this, I thought I would share it, too:
...When I found myself sitting with a half-dozen other bloggers and PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi for a conversation about our roles as women in today’s society, the work-family balance is exactly what came up. Liz Gumbinner talked about the difficulties she has working outside the home and being away from her girls. Jyl Johnson Pattee said that she had never imagined that she would be her family’s source of income before her husband got laid off. Stephanie Nielsen talked about the fact that motherhood was her calling and passion in life, and that she never expected that a plane crash would dramatically change that experience.

Indra K. Nooyi listened. And then she did something totally unexpected. She asked her 18-year-old daughter sitting beside her to tell us what it had been like to grow up with a mother who worked long hours as she was growing up. Her daughter candidly said that it had been difficult -- that it was hard for her when she was young having parents who traveled, hard coming home to an empty house or a babysitter, hard having parents who were different from the parents of her friends. But she said that she also realized that her mother was living her dream and making it possible for her family to have wonderful lives.Via
posted by misha at 11:30 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


I think your reading of my comment is uncharitable. Pursuit of money and power is not something I find admirable in men or women. Aside from 'travel and pets' I also mentioned learning, art, and acts of charity, all of which I see as far more intrinsically valuable than climbing the corporate ladder and accumulating wealth.

You're assuming someone is career-oriented solely for money. Careers bring many people more satisfaction than simply money earned.
posted by schroedinger at 11:31 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


escabeche: " So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house. You know I've never seen that crown.""

Silly, Royal Crown is a different company!
posted by symbioid at 11:32 AM on July 2


My parents met at work and got married in the early 60s. My mom quit her job right after, because that's what you just did then, and started having babies. Four of us. Three with documented 'special needs' of varying severity.

So my dad was an engineer, and he was considerably older than my mom. He was born in 1925, grew up during the Depression as a second generation American and conservative Catholic. He served in the South Pacific in WWII and got a degree in math when he got home. In other words, he had a pretty standard upbringing for the time, and every excuse in the world not to question traditional gender roles.

But he didn't just talk the talk about valuing family and "women's work." Every weekday, he got up early, made coffee, packed himself a lunch, and got us kids started until it was time for him to leave for work. And then, he'd wake my mom up with a cup of coffee in bed. Because he knew how hard her job was, and he actually loved and cared about his family. He wasn't just saying that. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think he actually said that. He just did it.

On the weekends, he'd make big pots of soup or chili or spaghetti sauce for the week because my mom didn't like cooking that much and he did. He'd sometimes pile all four of us into the car and take us to do the grocery shopping so my mom could have a little time for herself. He also weirdly enjoyed grocery shopping, but that may have been something he picked up from doing it all the time. He was a pretty big nerd, and nerds are often really good at getting way way into even mundane things like that.

When I, a girl, got to be about four or so, he'd kind of tweaked to me being like him in some ways, so he started taking me to work with him and showing me what engineers did.

After he retired, when I got divorced and was raising a baby on my own, and my mom had started her own business, my dad babysat my son and took on pretty much all housekeeping duties from my mom. I'd come to pick up my son, and my dad would be waiting there for his wife and daughter with a clean happy baby and a fresh pot of coffee.

I grew up thinking that was at least somewhere in the realm of normalcy, men who genuinely loved and respected women, and who loved and cared for their families. I had honestly never really noticed that family dynamic where women do all the housework and childcare while grown men sit around obliviously until I was an adult, and it absolutely horrified me.

It doesn't surprise me much anymore, but the horror remains intact. If you are a grown man with a family, especially if your wife is at work, you should damned well know if you need milk. You should be getting your share of guilt for missing coffee meetings at your kids' schools.

That is YOUR house, those are YOUR kids, that is YOUR family. Don't sit around like a petulant child waiting for your wife to come home and tell you what needs to be done. Figure this stuff out yourself, like a real live responsible adult.

I know men are capable of this, because I've seen it with my own eyes. Get it the fuck together.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:35 AM on July 2 [68 favorites]


Indra K. Nooyi listened. And then she did something totally unexpected. She asked her 18-year-old daughter sitting beside her to tell us what it had been like to grow up with a mother who worked long hours as she was growing up. Her daughter candidly said that it had been difficult -- that it was hard for her when she was young having parents who traveled, hard coming home to an empty house or a babysitter, hard having parents who were different from the parents of her friends. But she said that she also realized that her mother was living her dream and making it possible for her family to have wonderful lives

Awesome.
posted by sweetkid at 11:39 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


ernielundquist--- that's just awesome as fuck. I think that's just the thing, I'd rather see the pendulum swing toward asking men to be better parents than toward letting women be as shitty at it as men are expected to be.

Balancing things ought to be about asking BOTH parents to contribute to child welfare, not just mothers-- and not NEITHER of them just because men are let off the hook to often.

(And on the class issues, not about outsourcing cheaper labor of parenting duties in order to make "work life balance" possible for the upper classes.)
posted by xarnop at 11:42 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


Requiring lifelong celibacy to attain a position of authority has worked out extremely badly for the Catholic Church

Celibacy means abstaining from sexual relations, not whether or not to have biological offspring. And well, in this Age you can actually do either one without the other.

I think kgasmart is asking compulsive workaholics to not have children, not to not have sex.
posted by FJT at 11:45 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Get it the fuck together.
posted by stltony at 11:46 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Great post, thanks. I'm frankly astonished by the anti-woman sentiment in this thread, given this is MetaFilter. For an individual to have achieved so much, and to be castigated for her parenting style!
posted by alasdair at 11:48 AM on July 2 [10 favorites]


Both my parents worked, because we needed both incomes to stay afloat. My dad worked locally and would often be able to leave work briefly to give me a ride home from the game or whatever, or if I had to go home sick from school. My mom, for some of those years, worked an hour's drive away, so we couldn't call on her.

All and all, my dad worked more hours but had more autonomy in his job. They both did housework, because my mom wasn't good at it and we three kids were whiny and lazy and messy.

My dad once told me, when I was an adult, that he felt like he hadn't spent enough time with me as a kid, that he wasn't around enough.

"I don't feel that way, Dad" I told him. "I feel like you were around."

I'll never forget his reply.

"Not for you. For me. I feel like I didn't spend as much time as I wanted with you. For my sake."
posted by vitabellosi at 11:54 AM on July 2 [12 favorites]


BTW I don't actually think the author of this piece is suggesting this is even how she would prefer to parent. She just has too much on her plate to balance it all, and that's the point, I think since women give birth and nurse children they often WANT to care for their children and do more of those duties, but they often want a meaningful career as well. We often make it a choice between the two, women who want an advances degree in research need to commit to more than full time hours in research, homework, internships and more to make this possible. Women who want to climb career ladders must put everything on hold to keep up. This is the case for men as well, but men don't birth children, lactate, or bond with them in the early years at the same statistical rates.

Our policies and social expectations make it very hard for mothers who WANT to be with their children to get flexible schedules, work part time, spend summers off with their children. It's relevant that these options be there for ALL parents, but it's particularly a woman's issues since the birth and lactation bond frequently leads to the child rearing being something women have a deeper emotional investment in, in a way that both they AND their children need. (This is NOT ALWAYS how it works, but like I said, it happens like this enough that parenting and work balance will likely be more of a women's issue unti science gives men functional uteruses. Uteri. Or what have you. And lactating breasts.) In which case if both men and women are birthing and lactating at the same rate they will likely be equally as likely to want to take some years off and form some of those deep and nurturing bonds that can happen during that time.

I don't think feminism only exists to obstinately proclaim that being a woman is and must be EXACTLY the same as being a man, differing biology and experiences may require specific protection and supports for women in some instances.
posted by xarnop at 11:58 AM on July 2


And well, in this Age you can actually do either one without the other.

Not if the Republicans get their way.
posted by elizardbits at 12:00 PM on July 2 [13 favorites]


... The person who hurts the most through this whole thing is your spouse. ... This feels like a symptom of a very unhealthy family dynamic.

This. Whether it's a man or a woman.

As far as I'm concerned, ANYONE, male or female, who feels it necessary to continue working after having made 13 million dollars, is confused as to what life is all about. Were I to have even one million dollars, I would never work again. There is so much more to life than working or 'achievement' --- love, family, learning, art, creation, pets, travel, acts of charity. I don't understand why anyone would continue to work long hours and neglect those they love to do so if it were not financially necessary. The less time in life I have left, the more I feel this to be the case.

I'm going to favorite this so hard it squeaks.

You think the commitment level required is less to be, say, a Senator?* A leading neurosurgeon? A four star general? The executive director of Planned Parenthood? Directing a blockbuster?

Sorry, neurosurgeon, doctor, scientist, psychologist, ex director of Planned Parenthood does not equal a director, four star general or CEO of anything. Someone, anyone, that devotes themselves to bettering our world is more likely to have my respect than the CEO of Pepsi. Sugar water hasn't done much for mankind. The opposite, actually, with regard to nutrition and obesity.

The problem isn't the time CEOs spend, it's society's assumption that the only thing of value is money. In this society, the CEO is worth more than her secretary, because she's worth 13 million.

* Most senators are scum, not all, but I'll leave those out of the equation.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:07 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


She just has too much on her plate to balance it all, and that's the point, I think since women give birth and nurse children they often WANT to care for their children and do more of those duties, but they often want a meaningful career as well. We often make it a choice between the two,

Zarnop's right, it would be awesome if the gerbil wheel of work had settings between full stop and run for your life.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 12:14 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home. I said, "what time did he get home?" She said "8 o'clock." I said, "Why didn't you ask him to buy the milk?" "He's tired." Okay. We have a couple of help at home, "why didn't you ask them to get the milk?" She said, "I forgot." She said just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back.

The way she casually states, "...a couple of help..." just sends shivers through my spine. She says it like they went to the store, went to aisle 4 and picked up a couple cases of Help along with the milk and eggs. Even simply saying, "a couple of maids" would have offered these people some form of humanity, but in this statement, they come across as just inanimate objects, as if they're robots or something (which, on the salary she makes, COULD be true...).

I wonder if her mom truly forgot or simply wanted to put her daughter in her place(s).
posted by Atreides at 12:17 PM on July 2 [4 favorites]


Interesting. Here is some context on that milk run story, in a conversation between Indra Nooyi and Nandan Nilekani (Infosys)

NANDAN NILEKANI: Your mother seems to be have been a huge influence on you, right from the days she prompted you to get 100% marks in Maths and all that...

INDRA NOOYI: That is typical southern Brahmin stuff. So there is nothing unique about that. I think that she was genetically programmed for that. The entire family focused on grades. When parents got together they only compared the report cards of their kids. Anybody who got together would say, 'so how is your child doing', 'what rank'. That was growing up in 50s and 60s. The real issue is, my father travelled a lot and my mother was back at home.


*Think Tiger Mother

NANDAN NILEKANI: I know once when you came in the Fortune's Most Powerful Women's list, and when you went home, your mom asked you to get milk or something like that.

INDRA NOOYI: No, I have said this story many times. When I became the president, at 10 o'clock in the night I went home and said, 'Mom I have some very important news'. To which she said 'leave that important news, just go buy some milk'. To which, I said, 'Raj is home, why don't you ask him to buy the milk?' She said, 'he is tired'. Typical mother you know, can't disturb the son-in-law! I was very upset, but I went and bought the milk and banged it on the kitchen table in front of her and said, 'Tell me, why do I have to buy the milk and not somebody else.' She just looked at me - and I will never forget it and it was a powerful lesson she left in me and said - 'look, when you pull into the garage, leave the crown there. Don't walk in with it, because you are first a wife and a mother. And if the family needs milk, you go get the milk. That is your primary role in life. Everything else is what you acquired or what you got because I pray for four to five hours a day.' That is the only thing she tells me. She says, 'what did you accomplish? You sit in a meeting on a chair all the time, and I pray for 4-5 hours.'

NANDAN NILEKANI: She takes the full credit for it.

INDRA NOOYI: Which I am glad she does because I tell you Nandan that where I was born, the way I was brought up, the last thing I expected was to be where I am. So you can't just be..


This has more nuance to it imho...

NANDAN NILEKANI: You have done an incredible job managing the family, home, children, office. What are the tips for the rest of the normal mortals like us?

INDRA NOOYI: First, I wouldn't say incredible job. We all try to do a job. As I have said before, Nandan, first of all, family has to support you. But more importantly, you have to pick the right husband, in your case, wife. I picked the right husband. Raj is a great guy and he has been a great support and I do not know where I would have been without him. I would say that without a doubt. He has been more than a husband. He has been a sounding board or friend.

You know, people like us get very lonely, because you cannot share too much with other people. So you come home and he is there and you can discuss anything with him and he gives you sound advice. Not telling you what to do, he will help you think through all sides of the issue, so that you can make informed decisions. So that way he has been a great support. I would say in terms of balancing the rest of my family, I am an okay mother. I would not say great. I am not available to my kids all the time.

I have been watching television here and I have watched the stereotypical Indian mother, running about the kids, snack for the evening. Really wonderful images of my mother and I am saying to myself, oh my God, my kids have never seen that side of a mother. So I feel bad for them at times, but you know what, they have seen some other kind of mother. I am sure they miss one kind of a mother at some time, but I hope they are proud of this other mother.


She's honest about the challenge, the commitment and the conflict.

NANDAN NILEKANI: So, everything has been thought through.

INDRA NOOYI: If you have to do something on the spur of the moment, everybody helps you out to do things, but that is only on an emergency. You can't evoke the spur of the moment on a regular basis, then it is not a spur of the moment anymore, it is running from pillar to post. So, it is difficult. Trust me, I haven't done everything right.

posted by infini at 12:20 PM on July 2 [19 favorites]


Someone, anyone, that devotes themselves to bettering our world is more likely to have my respect than the CEO of Pepsi.

I'm sure having your respect gratifies them. The problem that we are discussing --- the one that Pepsi's CEO faces and that the army general and the ED of Planned Parenthood also face --- is that you can't hold such a demanding job without making sacrifices to your personal life. Regardless of whether you think being CEO of global corporation is a worthy cause or not, the demands placed on people who wield that kind of power are similar, across fields. So is your position that the CEO's kids deserve a pat on the hand and a "there, there, sweetums," while the general's kids or the surgeon's kids get to suck it up because it is in fact true that their parent's jobs are more important than their welfare? How does the price differ, for the doctor's kid or the CEO's kid?
posted by Diablevert at 12:22 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


The problem isn't the time CEOs spend, it's society's assumption that the only thing of value is money.

Gosh, you think it's the money that winds up the workaholic? Our VP of sales has so much money even HE doesn't know what to do with it anymore. That's not it.

A lot of CEOs feel that they're the head of a very large corporate family. They feel responsible for the jobs of the people that work for the company, they believe that they can make money for the shareholders, they want their product to be the best in the industry. They like the excitement of it, the travel, the schoozing and thrill of the hunt.

They love the deals, and the intricacy of running a huge enterprise. It's the details of the work that enthrall them. Sure, money's pretty great, but that's not what drives these folks and that's why they don't quit when they get however much of it YOU think is enough. Money is the byproduct of this kind of job.

And for the record, I'm really tired of the whole, "businesses suck because they make a profit, therefore it's more noble and honorable for a family to be neglected if the person doing the neglecting is a Poet or a Doctor," bullshit.

Business is as important a part of life as charity and art and science. In many cases business makes charity and art and science possible.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:27 PM on July 2 [16 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, ANYONE, male or female, who feels it necessary to continue working after having made 13 million dollars, is confused as to what life is all about. Were I to have even one million dollars, I would never work again. There is so much more to life than working or 'achievement' --- love, family, learning, art, creation, pets, travel, acts of charity. I don't understand why anyone would continue to work long hours and neglect those they love to do so if it were not financially necessary. The less time in life I have left, the more I feel this to be the case.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 10:02 AM on July 2 [+] [!]


I see what you're saying there, but I think you may be assuming that the pursuit of money is the reason that rich people continue working. I think this is probably true sometimes, but not always. There are lots of wealthy people who continue to work because they want to accomplish more things in their field, and the money is a nice reward associated with that success.
posted by ben242 at 12:28 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Personally I think if people know they have a purpose in life that is more important than putting in the time to rear children they might want to rethink having children. Parents can seek to have one career driven parent and one who stays at home, they can both work part time, they can have one parent work part time and the other full time. They can pay others well to help with the parenting duties but they might have to admit that other people than them are doing some of the parenting-- or admit that during the time they are gone parenting is not happening, either which are problematic.

You can do important work on a part time schedule, or at least people could if our society prioritized making sure this was a work option.
posted by xarnop at 12:28 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


I like her.

To be a CEO is a calling. You should not do it because it is a job. It is a calling and you have got to be involved in it with your head, heart and hands. Your heart has got to be in the job, you got to love what you do, it consumes you. And if you are not willing to get into the CEO job that way, there is no point getting into it. And I love the job, I love the company, I love the people. I loved it when I was president and love it as much as CEO.

So, I have to love my kids, but I have this passion for this company and you can't take that away from me. I am going to have this passion, I want to make something even bigger on this company than it was and what I have to do is decide every moment in time whether I am going to be a mother or a wife or an executive. It's a day to day thing. Although, there are days when I have to go to the school. I do it, but I won't do it every month as they expect mothers to do. I would like to go to see my daughter playing a basketball game. I won't go to every game, but I would to some of them. Everything is a balancing act.
Same link
posted by infini at 12:31 PM on July 2 [8 favorites]


And all the men CEOs get to have kids but none of the women do?
posted by infini at 12:32 PM on July 2 [4 favorites]


Personally I think if people know they have a purpose in life that is more important than putting in the time to rear children they might want to rethink having children. Parents can seek to have one career driven parent and one who stays at home, they can both work part time, they can have one parent work part time and the other full time.

I'm glad my parents decided to have children, I know they are glad they decided to have children, and I think we're all glad they didn't follow your guidelines on how to parent because it's hard to be a part time doctor and a part time architect, especially as immigrants. Yet those jobs are fundamentally a part of who they are. My mother was preparing to be a doctor since the age of 11 and even now, "retiring" for her just means part time. it's a huge part of her identity. I don't think she would have been a happy person if she'd been a stay at home mom. My life would be totally different.
posted by sweetkid at 12:36 PM on July 2 [21 favorites]


What sweetkid said.
posted by infini at 12:37 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


"You can do important work on a part time schedule, or at least people could if our society prioritized making sure this was a work option."

This is exactly my point. If we set societal values at supporting parents being able to both spend time with their children and do the work they feel called to do it COULD be a possibility.

But a lot of people don't think that kids needs their parents and the people who fill the gaps on absent parents rarely get the credit for filling in those gaps.
posted by xarnop at 12:38 PM on July 2


There are lots of wealthy people who continue to work because they want to accomplish more things in their field, and the money is a nice reward associated with that success.

And that's fine, but then when their kids miss out on having experiences with their parents (like in this article), that's a problem.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:46 PM on July 2


I'm so glad my mum had a life outside of her kids. And not just work (though she did plenty of that) -- she was a political activist, and went on meditation retreats, and did her Master's degree, and went abroad to do fieldwork, and read books, and wrote books, and had a radio show for awhile, and volunteered (but not often at our schools, which was totally fine by us), and went to concerts, and I'm sure other things I didn't know about. We usually ate dinner together, then my parents would go off and do their things and we'd do ours. We were happy and well-adjusted kids and have grown in to happy and well-adjusted adults. *

As long as her kids are loved and respected and fed and intellectually stimulated, they are going to be fine regardless of whether she attends some "class coffee" thing that sounds frankly horrible (I guarantee my mum would not have gone whether she'd had the time or not). Her kid will get over it.

*On re-read, the past tense here makes her sound dead. She's very much alive, this is just the stuff she was doing when we were growing up. She's still doing many of these things, and is now apparently learning French.
posted by retrograde at 12:47 PM on July 2 [6 favorites]


I envy all you folks with working moms, I wish mine had worked. Life would have been much better for all of us. She wasn't really a hovering mother either and didn't really want to be one (mother I mean).

Sweetkid and I were exchanging some memail on this because our backgrounds and experiences are as far apart as they can be, given that we are both children of Indian parents growing up outside the country. I'm guessing we're a generation or so apart in age though since I grew up mostly in the 70s.

Indra Nooyi grew up in the 50s and 60s, and went to the US in 1978. Her mom was stay at home, religious, conservative, Brahmin. She had no role models and I think its that part that resonates with me, because while my mum isn't religious, she's a stay at home conservative mom as well. Look at all that BS in the interview...

Sweetkid otoh had a mom who was a professional, a doctor. And had role models and experiences entirely different from this context.

I guess what I'm trying to say here with all my commenting in the thread is that its fucking amazing for this woman, Indra Nooyi, to have done what she has done, given the context and the society and the culture and all the bla bla. She even mentions it in her conversation with Nandan Nilekani linked above.

Y'know, I wish you guys had just sterilized her back when but don't denigrate the magnitude of what a woman of her generation, specific Indian subculture, background and social conditioning/pressure has achieved, that too on a global platform and without a powerful family name to boost her start (like Mrs Indira Gandhi say, whose father was already Prime Minister).

/yeah yeah, I need to take a walk ;p
posted by infini at 1:02 PM on July 2 [11 favorites]


A lot of CEOs feel that they're the head of a very large corporate family. They feel responsible for the jobs of the people that work for the company, they believe that they can make money for the shareholders, they want their product to be the best in the industry. They like the excitement of it, the travel, the schoozing and thrill of the hunt.

Sure, but when you choose to have kids, you feel (or should feel) responsible for them, too. The question is whether you feel that you can continue to live your life the same after having children or whether parenting requires making sacrifices to accommodate that. When you have a demanding job and decide to also have a family, I think most parents who have given it any thought recognize something has to change. You only have so much time and energy. You can only make so mch money, but you can also only live on so little.

So, do those kids become your number one priority? Does that mean you restructure your life to accommodate them? If you lose your identity entirely, existing for your your kids alone, surely that would be unhealthy.

So do you (or your spouse) give up your job, or work just part time? How do you decide who does? Is it the parent who makes less, or the one who loves their work less? Let's say your spouse quits. Do you feel resentful of that, feel like they are now doing "less" work? Do you see them as just a homemaker? Also, common sense says that you can either maintain your lifestyle and go into debt on just one salary, or you will have to do some cutting back, especially with three people now instead of two.

Or do you go for the trifecta, where your career, and your spouse's career, keep going strong, and you parent at the same time? As a mother who has raised grown sons, honestly, I can't fit that into my own view of parenting. It is not so orderly and predictable, parenting. How can you maintain a pace like that? Surely something has to give. Don't you, as parents, want to be involved in your children's lives?

Some weigh the costs and decide they would rather bth keep their careers, which are rich and fulfilling, and hire people to watch the kids during the days at least. Right there, aren't you saying that parenting is not fulfilling, and that you do not value the job of raising your children as highly as your career?

So where DO your kids fit into your lives? What does the way you live your life say about the choices you've made? Those kids, do they fall after your partner, do they fall after your job, or are they somewhere even lower on the list? It's not what you say, but how you prioritize your life that determines what you actually value.

Work can be about putting food on the table, or it can be something a lot more. It can be a satisfying and enriching component within your life. It can be a challenge, be fulfilling.

And so can parenting.

I don't think it's a coincidence that those people who make it to the very TOP of their fields often have a lot in common with sociopaths. Because just to get to that level, you have to make some very clear choices along the way about what you are prioritizing, and it usually--not always, but usually--is NOT your family.
posted by misha at 1:16 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


And all the men CEOs get to have kids but none of the women do?

No, of course not. In fact, it should be okay for women to not even have to miss work to carry a pregnancy and give birth, a privilege men have had for ages. Medical science is advanced enough to allow someone unrelated to either parent to carry a fetus. Maybe in 25 years we may not even need that third person.

For me, it will take getting used to, but it's the most fair way.
posted by FJT at 1:21 PM on July 2


So, ultimately, there's no way out but to be a single, childless female.
posted by infini at 1:21 PM on July 2 [4 favorites]


Some weigh the costs and decide they would rather bth keep their careers, which are rich and fulfilling, and hire people to watch the kids during the days at least. Right there, aren't you saying that parenting is not fulfilling, and that you do not value the job of raising your children as highly as your career?

Nope! We're not. Or at least I'm not. Thanks for asking. You were really asking, right?
posted by escabeche at 1:23 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


So, ultimately, there's no way out but to be a single, childless female.

Oh no, then you get shat on because you don't have a family and are fundamentally not as important as everyone who has children. You get fired first, you get expected to pick up everyone else's slack, and you get smaller raises because other people have families.

Being female means there is no way out.
posted by winna at 1:31 PM on July 2 [19 favorites]


Huh, I was wondering why people were reading this comment from two years ago.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:49 PM on July 2


My mum was a working mum, and sometimes she was out of work, and I hated that. I was proud of my mum working, and my mum was unhealthy when she was out of work.

Today, I am single mother with two girls. I probably spent a lot more time at home than my mum did, but I worked, and the essence is, my girls are proud of me working and see me as a role model.
This whole sahm thing is so middle class and so sexist. I am single, but my mum wasn't, we couldn't have managed on my stepdad's income alone. Millions of families across the globe depend on two incomes, and if we insist that only a sahm can be there for children, we are being classist as well as sexist. I know a Pepsi boss has a lot of options, but in a sense this is one place where high and low meet. If we find poor women have a right to work, we must accept rich women have that same right.
posted by mumimor at 1:49 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Doonesbury circa 1985 on the impossibility of "having it all."

This bleak strip followed some more hopeful stabs at the topic in 1984, featuring congressional aide Joanie Caucus and her son Jeff.
posted by The Confessor at 1:58 PM on July 2


"No, of course not. In fact, it should be okay for women to not even have to miss work to carry a pregnancy and give birth, a privilege men have had for ages. Medical science is advanced enough to allow someone unrelated to either parent to carry a fetus."

See this level of desire to make things so easy they barely even notice parenting tends to be applied to those with resources and not so much to those at the bottom.

It seems like solutions to the work life balance problem of who will raise kids if both mothers and fathers work full time tends to be these mysterious people who have no emotional connection to children they carry in their wombs or rear for 40 hours a week and who are totally unaffected by being treated like a robot provider rather than a part of a family where their care and love are part of nurturing and growing people.

I think most people assume they will not be that person when they talk about these selfless unfeeling caregivers who know their place and never experience familial bonds with the children they serve for the sake of the "real parents".

It's so disconnected and messed up. When we really have economic equality in the work force and service professions are truly paid equally to other professions I might listen to the idea these are good ways to promote women's welfare overall rather than just making the lives and dreams of the already privileged even more privileged, on the backs of other women who make those dreams come true with none of the pay or recognition.
posted by xarnop at 2:09 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Then vote for and support the establishment of universal healthcare, municipal daycare, free education and 2 years maternal leave like we have in Finland.
posted by infini at 2:11 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I think the fact that we have so many kids being raised without close bonds to their parents reinforces peoples difficulty even realizing this could be a better way, the same way that kids who are spanked often grow up and say they're fine and think it's not a big deal. I'm not sure that kids saying "it seems fine to me, I got through it" is the same thing as it being the societal ideal we should essentially force on people who are too low income and low status to get anything better for themselves and their children.
posted by xarnop at 2:12 PM on July 2


that "we" is a specific individualistic fragmented and isolated culture, tbh, why do you think Indra Nooyi's mom lives with them?
posted by infini at 2:15 PM on July 2


Then vote for and support the establishment of universal healthcare, municipal daycare, free education and 2 years maternal leave like we have in Finland.

Ha, it's easier just to move to Finland.
posted by FJT at 2:15 PM on July 2 [4 favorites]




Huh, I was wondering why people were reading this comment from two years ago.


Yep, still relevant. I don't really buy that this "bad parent" discussion would still be happening if this article had been about a man.
posted by sweetkid at 2:18 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


I'm beginning to wonder if there's only one 'bad parent' in this discussion anyways...
posted by infini at 2:19 PM on July 2


My mom was initially a stay-at-home mom. She dropped out of highschool after Gr. 10, and married and had children at a young age. When my Dad had a close call with a chainsaw, my mom realized that she had no way to support my siblings and I if he should die, and so she went back to school.

My Dad didn't make a lot of money, so initially she drove school bus while getting her high school diploma to supplement their income. Although she had been planning on going into nursing, one of her high school teachers encouraged her to become a doctor, so she went to university to get her B.Sc., driving 1.5 hours each way in often dangerous conditions. This is the point where my siblings and I started taking more responsibility at home, taking turns preparing meals and so on. She then went to medical school, which required our family to pick up and move this time.

There was about 10 years spent getting her education, while my dad worked hard trying to earn enough to support a family and pay for her education, and the kids picked up on household chores and meal preparation, and my mom bent over backwards to do as well as she could in school while as filling her role as a wife and mother. And yet I never felt neglected. I obviously missed out on certain things growing up that other kids enjoyed. But I am incredibly proud of my Mom and am so happy that she achieved what she did and feel I am only a better person because of that. The irony in all this is that by the time my mom had finished her residency, I was the only one still somewhat dependent on my parents (I entered university the same year).

We have all benefited tremendously since then, in terms of financial support that they wouldn't have been able to provide before, but it is largely irrelevant. I like that my mom is more than just a mother and was able to find fulfillment in education and a career as well and can't imagine if she had neglected to do so as it is so much a part of who she is. At least in my case, children don't need stay-at-home parents.
posted by jamincan at 2:23 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


...when kids start missing out on experiences (like in this article) then it's a problem

Give me a break. This statement is so vague it's meaningless and is just reinforcing the fact that there is more expectation for moms to be ridiculous helicopter parents.

Every day every kid misses some experience - what about if parents decide to divorce are they depriving the kid the experience of two parents? what about kids who by only having one working parent miss out on experiences such as vacation or private school they otherwise could of had?

Our culture has this very strange norm that people think parents should sacrifice/give up their own life/art/career/friends etc to provide experiences for children and most of this falls on moms although it impacts dads too. Yes kids need love affection and attention but they don't need you around helicoptering to make sure they experience every experience there is to be experienced.
posted by seesom at 2:34 PM on July 2 [7 favorites]


Sure, money's pretty great, but that's not what drives these folks and that's why they don't quit when they get however much of it YOU think is enough. Money is the byproduct of this kind of job.

I think this is a really important point. And although I don't think it was your intent, it makes CEOs look like just the kind of terrible people I thought they were.
posted by vitabellosi at 2:37 PM on July 2


Indra Nooyi doesn't sound like a very nice person.
The fact she's a woman is as irrelevant as the fact that Larry Ellison is a man.

The fact that people think Indra Nooyi should have to justify or apologise for being a horrible person when Larry doesn't, that's a problem.

I look forward to a world when Nooyi, Jobs, Sandberg, Ellison are equally thought of as the self-centred, myopic psychopaths they so obviously are.
posted by fullerine at 2:43 PM on July 2 [8 favorites]


It's pretty crappy to just pull out that one part of Ruthless Bunny's comment and make it sound like the whole comment is advocating greed or something.


This is the whole section:
They love the deals, and the intricacy of running a huge enterprise. It's the details of the work that enthrall them. Sure, money's pretty great, but that's not what drives these folks and that's why they don't quit when they get however much of it YOU think is enough. Money is the byproduct of this kind of job.

Also agreed with this:

And for the record, I'm really tired of the whole, "businesses suck because they make a profit, therefore it's more noble and honorable for a family to be neglected if the person doing the neglecting is a Poet or a Doctor," bullshit.
posted by sweetkid at 2:43 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


I don't even like Pepsi, nor do I like profit driven corporations crafting consumption driven obesity and diabetes in the developing world.

otoh, I do like a woman who has smashed through the glass ceiling. Name another minority PoC at that level.
posted by infini at 2:52 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Y'know, I wish you guys had just sterilized her back when but don't denigrate the magnitude of what a woman of her generation, specific Indian subculture, background and social conditioning/pressure has achieved

I see that, but for me it's complicated. You don't become the CEO of a large major American multi-national corporation by sticking to who you are. She's at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is in the same league as people going to TED or Davos, meaning she's part of the Global Elite. Every day, they are living around environments and having social interactions that are completely different from the rest of us.

So, her achievements are great. But, I don't know if even being a bigshot CEO is entirely a good thing.
posted by FJT at 2:58 PM on July 2


I don't know, I think "CEOs are bad people" is a bit of a derail in the thread, which seems to be more about balancing home/work life as a high achieving woman. It's not "CEOs are good? Yes/No"

Also, seriously, the video provides some more context, especially around things like whether she's being dehumanizing when she says "We have a couple of help" or whatever. It's weird how much people want to nitpick.
posted by sweetkid at 3:02 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


I guess we each see in her a reflection of our own experience and perspective.

There's rising inequality and righteous indignation with the CEO class in parts of the world which have been hit hard by the economic troubles so that's what comes through.

There's women juggling their lives and trying to satisfy their own need for meaningful work, so that aspect is touched upon.

There's my own experience of knowing just how easy it is not to rise through the ranks, as a woman, and an ethnic minority in a male dominated world.

There's myriads of experiences and perspectives and its fascinating how just one interview has reflected this diversity back to us in one thread.
posted by infini at 3:06 PM on July 2 [7 favorites]


Give me a break. This statement is so vague it's meaningless and is just reinforcing the fact that there is more expectation for moms to be ridiculous helicopter parents.

Seriously. Some people here are acting like she's been committing child abuse and should have her child taken away by DCFS. She's talking about things like not being able to make 9am parent coffee meetings - not like she goes months at a time without seeing their faces. The judgment in this thread is so weird. I'd be happy if no one ever armchair judges another person as a bad evil parent in Metafilter again.
posted by naju at 3:15 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Not to the mention the irony of employers withholding birthcontrol...
posted by infini at 3:21 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Everything else is what you acquired or what you got because I pray for four to five hours a day

I wonder if the comments might have been different if this line had been in TFA. It's a big part of Mom's outlook.

But, seriously, life decisions aren't made with all the different paths laid out before you so that you get to pick the one you think you want and are prepared to "own" the consequences of. They're made one day or even one hour at a time. You see a life trail when you look back on it, not while you're bushwhacking it.
posted by carping demon at 3:35 PM on July 2


Wait. What, exactly, is the evidence that she isn't doing justice to it all?

I get that the milk story is about her mother putting (bullying) her into her (gendered) place. I'm just so overwhelmingly sad that she has, evidently, internalized that place -- that she was taught not to, and still cannot and should not expect to do well, even now. And after all of the evidence to the contrary, she still says, doesn't matter, gotta go get the milk, must establish my value as a second-class human.

And now she's projecting that internalization: that she can't have this interview and say, well, I have a lot of help, but -- everything's going great, and you can do justice, to all of it.

It's good for CEOs to express humility and all, but -- what would we say if she anonymously wrote to AskMe? We'd say, get therapy to embrace your accomplishments; compartmentalize your mother, who will never change, create some boundaries; and for pete's sake please oh please don't pass this defeatist attitude to your own children.

There are so many different responses she might have taken to that line of questioning. The milk story just says -- I've internalized the sexism, and here it is, keep it alive for the next generation. There are so many other ways to say "stay humble" besides ... this.
posted by Dashy at 4:05 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


It's pretty crappy to just pull out that one part of Ruthless Bunny's comment and make it sound like the whole comment is advocating greed or something.


This is the whole section:
They love the deals, and the intricacy of running a huge enterprise. It's the details of the work that enthrall them. Sure, money's pretty great, but that's not what drives these folks and that's why they don't quit when they get however much of it YOU think is enough. Money is the byproduct of this kind of job.


Funny -- I mistakenly shortened the quote. I wasn't trying to pull out just the only section that I did pull out.

I stand by my "it makes CEOs look pretty horrible." It's nice that they enjoy the intricacies of running a huge enterprise, and that they're enthralled by the details of the work. (I feel like Peggy from Mad Man "Well, aren't you lucky to get to have decisions!") If money is just a byproduct, they should be paid less.

I don't think Ruthless Bunny is wrong --- I think it points out how very far away CEOs are from say, home health aides.

I enjoyed the interview. I enjoyed her honesty. I can appreciate how much it sucks to try to make it in a sexist, white-privileged world. AND I can simultaneously think that she is WAY overcompensated and, like others have pointed out, lucky to have secretaries and in-home employees. She, unlike almost everyone else, has every possible resource at her disposal for ameliorating how difficult it is to juggle family and work.

(I was hoping that when she asked for the names of other mothers who couldn't make the school's coffee hour, it was because she was going to collectively argue with the school to make a change.)
posted by vitabellosi at 4:29 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I get your point, thanks for the further commentary vitabellosi.
posted by sweetkid at 4:41 PM on July 2


I disagree with the people implying that she's a bad mother, but something about what she said did rub me the wrong way, and unpacking my response a bit I think it's that when she says "we cannot have it all" she's taking the sexism she's experienced and applying it to everybody.

I see two reasons she can't "have it all" -- one is that her job requires the kind of monomania that would tax anyone's ability to give their family equal time, the other is that she seems to have internalized a (really sexist, in my opinion) view of motherhood in which mothering is all that you do.

So yes, if "having it all" means devoting 100% of your energy to your career and 100% of your energy to your family, of course it's not possible.

But to most people "having it all" actually means fighting back on both of these fronts:
- A career that allows enough room for family
- A version of motherhood that doesn't equate to servitude

So between her success and use of phrasing like "we cannot have it all" it seems like she is speaking as a progressive woman about a progressive issue, but just beneath the surface it seems like exactly the opposite.
posted by bjrubble at 4:52 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


In this article infini posted earlier she says (this article's context is from a visit back to India so that's what she means by "television here"

I have been watching television here and I have watched the stereotypical Indian mother, running about the kids, snack for the evening. Really wonderful images of my mother and I am saying to myself, oh my God, my kids have never seen that side of a mother. So I feel bad for them at times, but you know what, they have seen some other kind of mother. I am sure they miss one kind of a mother at some time, but I hope they are proud of this other mother.

I think a lot of women struggle with expectations of motherhood and don't always fulfill either traditional or progressive ideals, whichever way their own ideology falls, but i don't think the fact that she addresses this means she's not really a true progressive.

Also, it's disappointing that this one bit of the Aspen interview seems to have been reprinted everywhere (just saw it on Mashable) as "women can't have it all" because in the actual video she talks about a lot of things. She talks for about 20 minutes. It seems like most outlets just cut and pasted the part about her mom and the school coffee, and skipped her talking about how she was raised to excel academically but also had pressure to marry young, how her father insisted she continue her education, the idea that in Indian culture sometimes parents feel pride but don't want to express it (in the context of her own mother) her thoughts on how American consumer tastes toward soft drinks are changing, and so much more.
posted by sweetkid at 6:14 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Actually I personally am not saying she's a "bad parent", I'm saying she's supposedly at the top of the ladder, the most powerful position and all the resources you could imagine and STILL she's not allowed to have a part time schedule and be with her children. This is not fair to her and her family. It's a messed up way of thinking. Maybe she is subscribing to the idea this is how it HAS to be because it's her culture, so her choices are part of it, but she's been sold an idea that she's not allowed to have an important position and put her foot down and say "I want to go have a morning with my kid"

If it's that bad at the top how on earth can we fight for women at the bottoms rights to be with their kids and parent?

I mean if she has more power and financial resources that most mothers anywhere and yet she's not allowed to set her own schedule to match her families needs how much hope does anyone else have of saying "actually I would like to do a job I really believe in and want to do AND spend time with my kids because I think they need me"?

I feel like women's empowerment in the work force will need to address that many women want to spend some portion of their time mothering without claiming that women should just stop having this desire and kids don't even need that time anyway.

I think this is the way it is because the workforce was previously dominated by men who really weren't as interested in spending time bonding with and parenting their kids both for cultural and for basic reasons of biology that will likely continue even if we permit and support flexible gender roles.

I think this issue of women in the workplace wanting to spend more time with their kids or feeling like their kids NEED them more is something we need to handle in other ways than just telling women to behave the way men stereotypically do (or have) and discard their children's emotional needs for time with their parents.

Also the way she presents this as THIS IS THE WAY IT HAS TO BE is utterly false.

We absolutely could allow women (and men) to spend time with their children and also do work on part time or flexible schedules. People used to say that all kinds of things were "THE WAY THINGS ARE" in the work place until people fought back and said, hey, let's make it better because the way things are kind of sucks for a lot of people.

I could have misunderstood the article but it doesn't even sound like she WANTS to be so detached from her kids, she herself sounds upset about it, like this is not exactly what she's even wanting her. She can't see the solution being that she could take more time from work to spend with family because her job refuses to allow her to have that position and spend the time with family.

Advanced degree programs and high paying involved career typically deter women who are or want to be mothers because there AREN'T accommodations for women's to spend time parenting and rearing their children and I don't think the solution is to tell more women to stop valuing being with their kids but to tell the workforce to support women who value time with their kids and increase their ability to participate in the workforce through part time schedule options and other methods that allow more integration between work and spending time with family. I don't think that more day care and nannies are the solution (though I think this access should be better built into our social infrastructure) but that we also respect and protect women's ability to do the parenting themselves AND participate in the workforce.

In terms of human rights, if there are reasons based on the nature of women's relationships with children they birth and desire to be with their children and possibly that children need them, then accommodating women in the workplace should involve many more protections on those relationships than we currently even consider.
posted by xarnop at 6:38 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


They can pay others well to help with the parenting duties but they might have to admit that other people than them are doing some of the parenting

There's a difference between caregiving and parenting, and only in the US do I hear this "not parenting" charge thrown at women to this extent. My mom didn't work in Vietnam, but she had four kids, so neighbors and family minded the kids so she could get things done. She was still parenting. I work and have a nanny. My kids know who their parents are, and there is never a moment when they feel insecure or unattached. I am present for them every moment we are together in a way I wouldn't (and couldn't) be if I were their sole caregiver 24/7.

I have been fortunate enough in my past endeavors that I do not need to work for the money. I tried part time work. It left me feeling frustrated and ineffectual. It is my nature to build and create, and to do things with complete intensity. Without work, I'd be focusing all that energy onto my children, which would quite frankly be unhealthy for them and me.

I find it disheartening that a day after a male-dominated group demonstrates how insignificant women's experiences are to those in power, we are criticizing a woman for doing what it takes to become powerful in a way we never would for a man.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:59 PM on July 2 [9 favorites]


I haven't even finished the video but I just got to the part where she's talking about the wrong focus on quarterly returns rather than on long-term sustainability of a business. She is so right on and even if many of you are grossed out by her being a multimillionaire she clearly gets it in a way that the Wall Street folks don't.

I like her. She's telling the truth. It was obvious to me that even though the story about the milk is now one of those stories she has to trot out, it clearly hurt and angered her at the time. But she speaks openly about her mother's conflicted aspirations for her daughters - having them debate as prime ministers at the dinner table, versus talking about the early arranged marriages they should have. It is compelling, and she is not pandering to anyone.
posted by stowaway at 8:16 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


(Is she wearing a Tatooine shirt ...??)
posted by stowaway at 8:18 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


"We're a bond with an equity-like kicker." If only more CEOs thought like her.
posted by stowaway at 8:22 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


I'm damn glad my mother was a working mother, and not whatever Xarnop has decided she should be to be a 'good mother'. I loved having time alone, I loved having a mother who was happy and fulfilled. I think it's kind of sick to decide a woman (or a man) should obliterate their own goals and desires because their children are the only important thing.
posted by tavella at 11:29 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


Still watching the video, but from the transcript alone: all articles like this do are make me determined to not have kids because screw that, if I had to choose, I'd rather be CEO of Pepsi than a mother.
posted by Xany at 3:51 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


Some women want to stay home with their children, not because they think it'll be easier than work but because they believe those bonds matter and that their children need them.

How can those women, who also should have a place at the table of feminism, have their rights to be with their children fought for if their position is innately decried as anti-feminist?

Some women don't want to put their children in day care at 6 fucking weeks, not only because they love and want to be with their children (because they would make the sacrifice of missing their children if it was ACTUALLY in their child's interest) but because they believe it's not healthy for a 6 month old to be separated from their mother for 50 hours a week.

Some women would rather work part time or be a stay at home mom, not because they are unwilling to make the sacrifice of losing the time with their children but because they actually think their children need them. The problem with women who already have high paying careers and social status and media attention demanding that everyone accept that mother absence is irrelevant is that it influences policies for women at the bottom.

Incidentally these women at the bottom are often the people who cook the food of society, who care for the children of society, who babysit and nanny, who clean houses. We haven't freed WOMEN from these duties, we've freed some women from these duties and given them much better pay and the sense they are doing important meaningful valuable work, at the expense of other women who taking up the slack of all this "irrelevant" work that isn't really all that important. Calling the active work of parenting, the day to day tasks, the time spent together, and irrelevant part of parenting is disrespectful to all the people who actually do this work. And to the people who will NEVER get to have a part time schedule to be with their kids because it's financial impossible and socially unacceptable for a low income mother (even for a higher earning mother!) to believe her child needs HER more than the money).
posted by xarnop at 6:20 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


I wanted to clarify the comments I made yesterday, because I think this thread has taken a strange turn. I think it's great for people to work, parents especially. Meaningful work is a central part of the human experience. It's a privilege to have it, or to be able to pursue it. Many people cannot. Childcare is meaningful work for some people, but not for everyone. Children are great, and important, and cute as hell, but that does not make them magical. I would go crazy if all I did was take care of my kid, and it wouldn't be a good thing for either of us.

This interview (I haven't had time to watch the video) is a really weird bird. The intersection of race, gender, class, and economic power is mind-boggling. I don't mean that figuratively. I mean that if you really think about what it took for Nooyi to get to onto that stage, what it means for her to be the CEO of Pepsi, and how all of those meanings intersect with all of the ascribed assumptions, motivations, shoulds and should nots that our racist, classist, sexist patriarchy brings to listening to a successful woman like this, it should rock you quite a bit. I don't think that this interview tells us all that much, even if it is expanded in the 20 minute video. It's too short, she's too much a public figure with public relations people helping her to develop her message. But I think that on its face it's pretty cool that she got a chance to speak about these things.

I think the general suggestion that she might not be, or is not, a good mother because she works too hard to spend the appropriate amount of time with her kids is really problematic. It carries with it all the particular sexist assumptions about what it means to be a mother, what the special responsibilities of a mother are, and how we hold women to a standard that is impossible for them to meet. I think it's perfectly possible to be a good mother and a CEO, just as I think you can be a good father and a CEO. I think it's likely to be difficult, because a job like that really takes an inordinate amount of time and attention, but I think it's inappropriate to start from the assumption that it isn't possible. I also think we don't know nearly enough to say whether Nooyi is a good mother, and that it's best to assume that she is. Calling her a bad mother on such scant information can't help but reinscribe all of the sexism inherent in our ideas of what makes a good mother. There are certainly bad mothers who are bad mothers for reasons that are separate from society's sexist expectations, but we are nowhere near knowing enough about Nooyi to know if she fits that mold.

So, I give her the benefit of the doubt, and I assume that she is a good mother, and a smart and successful woman who should be admired for that success. That does not make this anything other than a weird interview, however. I have no doubt that what she can say and how she can say it are constrained by all sorts of things that barely affect me. On top of that, her "audience" as a CEO of Pepsi is vastly different from the people in Aspen or the people on the internet. She has all kinds of pressures on her speech that I don't think we can discount. So, its not surprising that her statements are a bit schizophrenic when it comes to privilege and whether and how she has thought about that. But it still makes for a strange interview.

I also think that the anecdote she shares about coffee at her daughter's school makes her sound like an asshole, and specifically like an asshole to her daughter. That doesn't make her a bad mother, it's one incident, but it doesn't make me like her (much as I might admire her), and it does make it seem like there are aspects of her situation that she kind of doesn't "get" in terms of how sexism and sexist expectations are really affecting her life and the lives of her daughter. I think that's too bad, but I could also easily be wrong about it because it's one statement and there are all these pressures on her.
posted by OmieWise at 6:22 AM on July 3 [4 favorites]


Some women want to stay home with their children, not because they think it'll be easier than work but because they believe those bonds matter and that their children need them.

The idea that these bonds require mom staying at home and that the children's desires are paramount are detrimental to women achieving progress in the workplace. Children of working moms can have exceptional bonds and children who have SAHM can have attachment disorders. You can't have it all all the time, but you can have different pieces of it at different times. The needs of your children fluctuate over time, and from child to child. My first kid needed me at home until she was 2; my second was ready for more separation at six months. It is anti-feminist to tell me that those bonds require me stop working because you assume that all children and mothers develop bonds the way you do.

Calling the active work of parenting, the day to day tasks, the time spent together, and irrelevant part of parenting is disrespectful to all the people who actually do this work.

And calling childcare parenting is disrespectful to parents who work very hard to set boundaries, think through their parenting philosophies, and stay up late actively striving to improve their parenting skills. My nanny would never consider what she does parenting. She gets paid better than median salary for a new college graduate and gets full benefits to pick up the slack so that I can focus on quality time with my kids, do the work that I hope will significantly improve peoples' lives, and protect my mental health. There are definitely issues with domestic employees, and it took me a long time to find one who was the right fit. But the solution is to push for more protections for those workers, not denigrate it as a career path in and of itself.

I believe that women need more choices and flexibility to choose their career paths. But I would never tell any mom that her decision to work or not work make her a bad parent, or presume that I know enough about her life and family to judge.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:56 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


"But I would never tell any mom that her decision to work or not work make her a bad parent, or presume that I know enough about her life and family to judge." That's not really what I'm saying here. I have said that there are some families where the father is a better fit, or where the families pay someone a wage similar to their own to do the child care.

But there is a question to me about loving nurturing and how this fits into this whole model where both parents can be gone 40 to 60 hours a week and professionals are doing the daily work. Are they loving the children during this time? Are they forming bonds during this time? Can the child need to be loved and cared about during this time? Or does the child understand this is a professional relationship that will terminate as soon as people's schedules/life variables change? Is the child taught that people who care for them are unworthy of love and respect as a part of their family? What does that teach children about empathy and attachments with others?

I guess, to me, this article is pointing out the kids DO feel neglected and the mom is worried about it and not sure how to fix that. And sometimes a particular kid might feel like having a person paid to care for them is not the same thing as being with a parent who loves you. Emotional neglect is a real thing and I feel like making it out to be a non-issue is unfair to children who really aren't getting their needs met when parents are gone so much, and unfair to mothers who are told their sense their child needs them is not real because knowing your child needs you is unfair to other women who feel threatened by that idea.

I personally have been a nanny, and I have worked montessori, and I am a mom. I know mothers who are not nurturing types and who are better suited to the workforce (my own mother for example). In my own case this was replaced by my father which worked well for all of us, but when my father started working out of state most of the year, it really fucked up my reality.My mother was exhausted and miserable and angry all the time, my dad was always gone, and supposedly we had all this money to make up for it but it didn't translate to a positive experience at all, and to me, my relationship with both my parents effectively ended at that time. They paid for counseling and therapy, but trying to get familial love from therapy is not really quite the same. Maybe if they had hired someone to come help it would have helped.

I agree that each situation is unique and that children have different types of emotional needs and different amounts of need to be with their parents, but this article indicated the children wanted more time with their parents and I think instead of saying the children are just being too demanding and don't understand feminism states this is how much they are allowed to need their mom, maybe the children are sometimes right and they are needing more time with their parents? I have had a LOT of nanny friends who worked for families where they felt there was emotional neglect going on and they were trying to fill in gaps that were beyond what a non-loving caregiver should be filling in, these kids needed people who were allowed to love them and to truly be invested in their well being as more than a job. Kids deserve that. The fact that we think kids shouldn't be allowed to need love for 50 hours a week or that love and bonding should fit into a clear business model is very strange to me, and children from such families don't learn to love the people caring for them in return in the way kids are encouraged to love and appreciate their parents.

Some children do fine with less, but that doesn't mean all children do, and we really don't have options for parents who know their kids need more time with their parents forming meaningful relationships. And yes TIME together doesn't mean empathy or connection is happening, but if there is a problem with that connection it likely will require actual time spent together if there is a going to be a chance to form a better relationship.
posted by xarnop at 7:56 AM on July 3


Some women want to stay home with their children, not because they think it'll be easier than work but because they believe those bonds matter and that their children need them.

And women who work don't think those bonds matter. Yeah, right. Fuck that, and fuck everyone who tries to obliterate women as independent beings who matter under the guise of "it's for the children." Learning how to be independent and self-sufficient, how to recognize the worth of your own desires rather than obliterating them under the needs of other people -- those are things children need, and I am goddamn glad my mother taught them to me, and I hope millions of other mothers, including CEOs like Nooyi, are teaching them to their children.
posted by tavella at 8:11 AM on July 3 [8 favorites]


I'm sure our own experiences growing up have a huge effect on where we fall on this work-parenting stuff. I was a latchkey kid (remember that phrase?!) and I turned out fine. And I never, ever resented my single working mother and the sacrifices she made for me. She raised two kids who ended up an Ivy League MBA and a patent attorney. Shocking, I know, that my brother isn't in jail and I'm not a drug addict on skid row, but sometimes these things work out. Because this parenting stuff can work in many ways, and in many different circumstances.
posted by naju at 8:30 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


Well I do think it takes all sorts, I'm just tired of people who have more education, more money, and more access to jobs dominating the feminist discussion of women's rights in a way that pretty much obliterates lower income mothers rights to put their feet down and say that their kids need them and they want protections in the workforce and social acceptance of their decision to be with them.

Lower income women are expected to put their kids in day care right away and hop back in the workforce, often under women like Nooyi who have decided for themselves, and often for all the women under them, that "this is the way it must be! We just can't spend time with our children!" all the while people claiming to be feminists celebrating this as empowerment for women because any one who protests and says "maybe some of the kids actually do need to see their parents? Maybe we should try to put protections in place for parents to do that" is making an attack on women.
posted by xarnop at 8:30 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


That would be more impressive, xarnop, if you weren't denigrating other people who made different choices as "maniacs". Own your own choices, and stop projecting your issues on other people.
posted by tavella at 8:40 AM on July 3 [6 favorites]


You put quote marks as if you're quoting me however that comment was not from me at all. I am not denigrating women who choose to go to work instead of stay home, just saying that I have seen this be very hard for some kids to go through as a person who has worked in childcare and that parents often don't want to consider that this can be really hard on kids.

I am a fan of harm reduction and it's an issues like breastfeeding to me, I think each kids deserves to have a mom who will at least TRY to do breast feed all things being equal , however in life all things are not equal and a specific mom might have good reasons that breastfeeding doesn't work, she has a medical condition that requires a medicine that's not good with nursing, she finds it so uncomfrotable it's just not working etc etc.

There are plenty of good reasons that some mothers might need to go to work early and that it might be better for their kids and a sign of good mothering they are making that choice.

But most women in power have made this choice and they often have a lot more power to make it more possible for the women who do want to protect a bond that includes actual physical time together (skin to skin care is beneficial for babies and it just can't happen as much in a day care with 8 babies and 2 caregivers).... and I dislike it when arguments women at the top use to prove they made the right choices actively diminish the voices of women who are saying their kids need them but they are being forced into the workforce by financial issues and social pressure to value income over time with their children.

But personally when parents have to be gone SO much, I think the question of making sure there is actual loving nurturing familial relationships happening during the time parents are gone is very hard to do, especially with the cultural expectation that spending time with children is just business and should not involve loving connections that extend beyond a pay check.
posted by xarnop at 8:57 AM on July 3


You are right; that was Faint of Butt. However, you have been repeatedly asserting that people who work full time somehow aren't forming "family bonds" or are forming lesser ones than yours. My best friend has a kid, and she put her in day care at a few months, despite the fact she works from home. Both so that mom can work, and so that the child has the experience of other people. And yeah, she is a hell of a lot better off playing all day with other children then being alone in the house with her mother. She has both intense and loving relationships with her family, and easy comfort when dealing with new people and experiences. And her mother is a lot better off, less stressed and anxious, and that happiness reflects through the whole family.

If your happiness is spending all day with your kids and your kids do best without other people, that's great for your family. It doesn't give you the right to sneer at other families.
posted by tavella at 9:21 AM on July 3 [7 favorites]


I don't even think it's bad for kids to be parented more just just their biological family, I just think people helping with the duties of family should be allowed to form emotional connections as a part of the family rather than a robot servant who performs the specific duties of giving things to children they need. Many people have sort of a disconnect about whether they want the nanny to actually bond with the child. Often people want the nanny to bond... but only in a specific easy to control and limited way that magically is both exactly what the child is needing but that doesn't in any way compare to amount of love and nurturing the mother would give. I think these desires are a bit contradictory and sometimes it's child that gets a bit shut out to keep it professional, sometimes the child forms and then loses bonds that actual became meaningful for them, and sometimes it's the nanny who winds up pouring her genuine love out until she is discarded and it's made clear she's just a servant, she must know her place, and her love has nothing to do with REAL familial relationships.

Life is brutal. Children have been getting orphaned and neglected and abandoned and worked for 15 hours a day in brutal conditions for many times in history and all too often in the present. However, child death and disease rates are often worse when conditions are this bad and the reality that mental health problems affect families where there is money is not always as simple as totally random biology. Family dynamics matter A LOT in most of the research we're doing, even if someone has a vulnerability, a close functional family can be a very protective factor in healing and developing in a healthy way even with a predisposition for difficulty, and what's more, a child who is feeling emotionally neglected might not have the tools to describe what they are feeling or why they are feeling it- children often accept what their families are doing as normal whether that's spanking or lack of time together or an stimulating environment or a lack of displays of affection of meaningful communication. Yet their mental health and even physical health may tell a different story.

I'm not sneering at other mothers. I'm pointing out that mothers often want other women to play a big role in loving and nurturing their children with none of the respect of being a loving part of the family (and statistically very little pay).

I don't think I have to agree with other people that day care and nannying never have an affect on children, because I think that's up to the actual children how that affects them.

I understand that for some people, spending time together isn't how they show their love, and I really don't understand their way as they probably don't understand my way. I just am seeing that the idea that children don't need to be with their moms is the default of the work force, all women who need to work are forced to accept it.

THAT is what I'm saying is BS because it's other women "sneering" at what I think my own kids need.
posted by xarnop at 9:32 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I guess the thing is feminism uplifted women by allowing them to do other things than mother, but it's still relegated the tasks of mothering to unappreciated under paid tasks, as if mothers weren't already doing a lot of meaningful emotional work by being present in the home and loving and caring for their families.

Taking the love and family bonds out of care giving in order to force it into an economic model of transactional services may come at it's own cost.
posted by xarnop at 9:35 AM on July 3


[Xarnop, I recognize you have strong feelings on this subject but it's time to back it off a bit and let other people talk, too. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad at 10:44 AM on July 3


As far as kids and attention goes... If I gave my daughter all the attention she wanted, I'd never eat, sleep, or use the bathroom. She is 3 (or tyrannical 3, as I like to call it), and part of my job is gently making her aware that other people have needs and respecting that. There is no evidence that nursing, staying home, cosleeping, etc. affects bonding or improves outcomes, and plenty of evidence that having mentally healthy parents does.

Nooyri's daughters participates in these events with her, and her older daughter is following in her footsteps and getting an MBA. The kids seem to be doing fine.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:38 PM on July 3 [4 favorites]


Has it occurred to anyone else that she shares these anecdotes, and not others that show her softer mothering side, because that is what her audience wants/needs to hear from a CEO? How would investors react if she mentioned that she blew off emails one night because she stayed up late to assist one of her daughters with a school project? Probably not well. I'm usually one for believing what people say and show about themselves, but I believe these anecdotes say more about her CEO style than her mothering style.
posted by stowaway at 5:41 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]


Y'know when you realise some people don't just have a different opinion, but it's way out on the other side? Yeah, this might be that for you.

I think full-time parenting is unnatural and wrong.

What do I mean by that? Seriously. Think about it, at how many points in our evolutionary history, has it been standard for a child to spend all their time time with a single parental figure? We grow up in extended families, tribes, packs, villages. Adults work, because that means food and survival, and babies are carried, but as soon as they're big enough, kids are just part of the kid pack, being looked after by multiple adults, extended Aunty, Uncle and Grandparent figures.

The kids I know who lived with stay at home parents - well, you're getting your intellectual stimulation from an adult who is only hanging out around their own small children. They were generally bored out of their tiny little skulls.
Like, for kids, on average, I find a well run day care a much less abnormal environment. You've got a bunch of adults looking after you, and plenty of similar age kids to learn development off (kids learn off each other - they're still babies when they've figured out they can't do and shouldn't try the same things an adult can do, but seeing a similar sized kid do it, bam, developmentally achievable!).

So yeah, all power if you want to stay at home with the kids, but in opposition to that strain of family values discourse, I'm not sure I've really seen it *work* particularly well for the kids or the adults. I haven't seen it be provably better.
At best, I'd hope you'd do it in some kind of commune environment, frankly, with lots of adults and kids around.

I've seen the girls who grow up with that, who now don't want to have kids. Because all they ever saw was their mother not following any dreams outside of parenting, not achieving anything else in life (when they seem like they would have been happier if they had), and they DO want to do things other than parenting.
Yes, it's a big job. It's the biggest job you'll do, raising another human being to a healthy, functional adult. But if you've sacrificed the rest of your life, you've just failed one major part, in modeling what a healthy, functional adult life looks like.
I want to see my parents having achievements they are proud of, or just sticking things out when that's what needs to be done, and having, essentially, good lives.

If I had money, I wouldn't be working, I'd be travelling, so hey, that's what I'd model at least part of the time.
I do think that one of the things that has people at cross purposes in the thread, is workaholism is not modeling a healthy, functional life. Doing it to yourself is not modeling healthy behaviours for kids. Doing it to others is sociopathic capitalism in action. Looking after kids means holding myself to a higher standard, because I want that for them too.



To address another side topic, I've had a friends 4 year old talk to me about their understanding of work, money, jobs. It's an idea that grows over time, but, yeah, she had the basics of it. Not just working for the things that we need to eat, wear, our shelter etc, but that if you're going to get money for something, it may as well be something you feel you do a good job at, and she talked about the things she worked hard at, and the things that the adults she knew worked hard at, and which things people worked at paid money, and which didn't. It was pretty cool, just to see what her thoughts were.

Another, slightly older kid came to me with worries that they didn't really know how to do the reading and math that most jobs seemed to need, and they didn't have a thing they were really good at to do for a job, and I reassured them that they were 6, and had almost twice their current life span to work on things (and it's cool, we can come back to this conversation when you're a teenager).
posted by Elysum at 6:13 AM on July 5 [3 favorites]


I do think that one of the things that has people at cross purposes in the thread, is workaholism is not modeling a healthy, functional life. Doing it to yourself is not modeling healthy behaviours for kids. Doing it to others is sociopathic capitalism in action. Looking after kids means holding myself to a higher standard, because I want that for them too.

Well said. I agree with this, and think this central point in getting lost in people taking the comments about working mothers vs SAHM personally. Which, I guess, is a not surprising symptom of how defensive mothers feel they have to be these days, always being judged for their decisions.

We should not be stigmatizing mothers who choose to work, and have fulfilling careers, as they serve as excellent role models for their children. I think many in this thread would agree with me that it is beneficial for children to see that they can choose to work and have a family, too, without feeling guilty all the time that they are short-changing their kids.

But I thnk there is a lot of judgment in this thread coming from the other direction, against Moms who are choosing to stay home to raise their kids rather than work outside the home. Why is that? No he should feel obligated to do t, but we should not shame other women for choosing that path, either.

Not every job is a career, and women choosing to give up jobs which never fulfilled them to stay home should be applauded for that decision.

Hell, even if her career is fulfilling, a woman should feel the freedom to choose to stay home without being characterized as a smothering Helicopter Mom or domineering Tiger Mom, or any other insulting stereotype.

That is just the flip side of the sexist shaming game women used to get when they first started entering the job force.

I think full-time parenting is unnatural and wrong.

Well, bless your heart.
posted by misha at 9:01 AM on July 5 [4 favorites]


Speaking only for myself, I have no problem with SAHMs. I was one myself. My issue is with the idea that childcare is detrimental to bonding, and that women who work are failing to bond with their kids. And it's definitely anti-feminist; once you lose the "women aren't good enough" battle, you switch to the "but women need to do this Very Important Thing that we've coincidentally valued so much that we've traditionally paid peanuts for it." And that idea that we should do it love or a higher calling is directly related to how relatively little we pay those in "helping" professions.

I have some very good SAHM friends who are completely resistant to getting even a few hours of childcare in order to take care of themselves. It's as if they took that workaholic attitude and applied it to their parenting. Are you always on call? Of course. But if you believe that you must be the primary caregiver 24/7, no breaks, then I think you are really setting an example of a very unbalanced life to your children. And they totally pick up on that -- when I went from working from home to spending two mornings a week in the office, my daughter told me "No, mommies don't go to work. They work from home." Despite the fact that she was in preschool and I was still there for pickup/dropoff.

You can definitely raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids regardless of whether you work, but at some point your kid grows up, and if you haven't spent any time on figuring out what makes you happy and fulfilled, what will your life be like? What have you taught your children about who they should be as adults? How will you let go (as you must) when it's how you've defined yourself for almost two decades? There's no right answer, but I think every parent needs to think through these questions. Your kids may not listen to you, but they do see. And they're learning.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:43 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


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