Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.

Something to Think About


The other day I came across an article in the fashion magazine Marie Claire.  The article written by Executive editor Bess Levin, featured Marianne Lake, JP Morgan’s new CFO.  Ms. Lake is considered to be the top woman on Wall Street.

In the article Ms. Lake gives this advice to young women who are starting their careers.  At least I think it’s advice.  She is the mother of a 1 1/2-year-old boy.  The quote below is how Ms. Lake manages to care for her demanding career and for her son.

“So far, so good. I rely on a small circle of friends and my great nanny.   In the mornings, I try to spend anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes with my  son. Failing that, I try for 30 to 60 minutes together at the end of the day. I  try to make that work, but if I can’t I just move on. You can’t beat yourself up  about it. I never worried about raising a kid on my own. I’m 42, not 20 with my  eyes closed. The circumstances aren’t traditional, but I didn’t hesitate to do  it.”  

The quote above upsets me, but not for reasons you may think.  Ms. Lake being a single parent doesn’t upset me.  I know plenty of single parents in fact I was raised by one.  The fact she doesn’t have a father in the picture and has hired a nanny to care for her child isn’t something I have chosen, but I respect her choice to raise her child as she sees fit.

What upsets me about the quote is this.

“In the mornings, I try to spend anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes with my  son. Failing that, I try for 30 to 60 minutes together at the end of the day. I  try to make that work, but if I can’t I just move on. You can’t beat yourself up  about it.”

Ms. Lake is quoted as saying she attempts to spend minutes a day with her 1 1/2-year-old son.  Minutes.   The amount of time she spends with her child each day is such a small amount.

This article is supposed to be giving career advice for young women.  While Ms. Lake’s career accomplishments are indeed impressive her advice to young women with regards to caring for children is not.

In today’s society single parents and working parents have so much responsibility that they don’t appreciate feeling like they are failing their children if they can’t spend enough time with them.  I think that’s what Ms. Lake was trying to say.

The problem is children, especially young children, need to spend time with their parents in order for bonding to occur.  You can argue with me, but it’s true.  Quality time is important, but so is the quantity of time.  The more time a parent spends with his child the better he/she gets to know them and can better meet their needs which helps a child feel secure.

Feeling guilty for not spending enough time with your child isn’t the answer nor is spending mere minutes a day with them either.  There must be a better way to resolve the working parent dilemma that keeps the child’s best interest in mind.

It’s something for us all to think about.

Author: insanityofmotherhood

Mom of three boys, wife, educator, and all around nice gal in the middle of a midlife something. It's not a crisis, but it's something…

18 thoughts on “Something to Think About

  1. I hate that I am not spending as much time as I would like and as I should with my son each day. I always feel rushed because I have to get to work or run errands or something. I wished I didn’t have to work.

  2. A friend posted this same quote from the Marie Claire article on Facebook last week, with his own comment, “That’s not parenting!” For argument’s sake, I said that I know other parents who sometimes get to see their children in the same, short amounts of time, due to long working hours (parents who are teachers and coach an after-school sport, for an example), but their attitude towards it may be different, leading us to believe they likely have a healthier parent-child relationship. She just seems so nonchalant about parenting, based on this interview. In comparison, I came across an article of TV anchor Lara Spencer in Family Circle today. She has similar long hours at work, but I get a feeling of real effort to make up for it and find balance when she can:
    “Q: Do you ever worry about how work cuts into family time?
    A: The pressure to do everything right is intense, because you want your beautiful little babies to grow into wonderful adults. But I’ve realized I can’t be the perfect mom. So I do what I can–like always making my kids breakfast on weekends or hanging out together for 45 minutes before bedtime, reading to them and talking about their day.”
    Sometimes it is all about the attitude of the parent and whether they truly value the quality of their relationships with their children. Sooner or later, Ms. Lake will understand it… Whether on her own or when her son grows up to tell her so.

    • Well said, Laura. It does appears as if Ms. Lake is nonchalant about the effects of leaving a child for such long periods of time. The thing is the more you are away from someone the less attached you become to them. This is true for children and also for parents. When I worked as a child care director, I was amazed how many parents would work all week and would request me to have the center open on weekends so they could do things without their child.

  3. I caught the same thing when I read the quote! As a single working mom, I get that time is hard thing to find. But you are so right about how younger kids need to be with their mom (or at least one parent) at that young age for bonding.

    We all make all our own choices about what to give up in our lives when we make the decision to have kids – like is she going to work early before everyone gets there? I bet she is and could probably drop that down to 3 days and log into her computer at home to spend that extra time with her child. I hate to be judgmental but we both know what will happen to her relationship with her son when he gets older. It won’t be there and then she’ll remember those moments when she made her choices to work instead of be with her son.

    Personally, I think it’s kinda sad. But it also shows the flip side of what working women deal with. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if this was a man talking about how little time he spends with his son.

    • It’s true that men don’t have to deal with the issues the same way working women do. I have a friend of mine whose husband works three weeks out of the month away from home. He hardly knows his kids. When women make career choices that keep them away from their kids it is less common and seems somehow worse. That may sound sexist, but the truth is as a society we still expect more from mothers than fathers.

  4. This is a very important topic. It reminds me of the psychological stages Erik Eriksons talks about, or the stages mentioned by Bolwby. Very interesting!

    • Yes, Ute. I was thinking the same thing. Attachment and bonding are crucial for healthy development in the early years. There is a small window of time to do this. I am sad how people often dismiss the needs of young children, especially the little ones who are unable to express with words their unhappiness with a situation.

      • Yes, me too. I suppose that either the pressure to be back at work as soon as possible, to be as “perfect” as possible – from family, social environment and workplace – puts mums in a position where they loose the natural emotional contact with their children. I’m not an expert, but I see that if mums have the freedom to raise their children and work halftime (or less) during their kid’s first years, they seem be better in meeting the needs of their children than mothers who have to work 100%, do the household and raise the kids. That’s just too much. I don’t want to excuse them, I’m just trying to understand why this happens so often.

      • I have heard more than one working mother say to me they could never stay home full time when their kids were young. Staying home to care for young children can be draining and does little to boost you self esteem. I would have loved the opportunity to do part time work when the boys were little, but I could never find a position that would be worth the stress it would place on the family. What is missing from the conversations from women wanting to work is, “How will my decision impact my child?” So much of the dialogue is about the happiness of the mother and what she wants.

      • I can understand this. I went back to work 6 weeks after my son was born and my husband took care of him. (When my girls were born we switched parts.) I had the same problem as you about finding a part-time job. I didn’t worry too much leaving my son in the morning, as his dad was taking care of him. But if I would have had to leave him with a “stranger”, I know I would have had terrible doubts. I know that many women just don’t have a choice. But I know some in that situation who still really care a lot about what their children need. I guess it depends on the character of the mum (or parents). – You’re right. Most of the time arrangements are taken to meet the needs of the mums and not those of the children.

  5. this would be semi-acceptable if there were another parent in the picture spending lots of time with the child, but the nanny….sorry, but this is NOT OK.

    • I agree with you, but a least the child has a stable one-on-one relationship with one caring adult. That is far superior to a large group care situation in which the child is passed from one caregiver to another every day. Having the same person everyday can help to develop attachments, but sadly in this case not with the mother.

  6. I’ve never been a subscriber of “quality” of time. Of course not all people are as fortunate as me in having the option to put family first. I know many people who need to spend time away from their children just so they can put food on the table and a roof above their heads. However, Ms. Lake is not in this level. She has a choice in that she is part of top management which compensation I am sure is more than enough to lead a comfortable life. Its not a choice I am in agreement with but it is her choice.

    I too believe that young children need a parent around, definitely more than the one hour everyday. One can not monitor a child’s growth from just an hour of get together each day. I believe that investing in a child’s foundation is as important as climbing up the corporate ladder.

    • I feel the same way. In my early parenting years my husband and I made huge financial and personal sacrifices to have me stay home to care for our boys. I am fortunate to have a spouse whose career allows me to make the choice to stay home. Not everyone has that option. However, I do know many families who make determined choices to work jobs with schedules to allow one parent to be home as much as possible. Kids need time with their parents. The younger the child the more time they need.

  7. I agree with many of the above comments. I understand that many single parents struggle to find the balance between quality family time and work time which is a necessity for survival. However, as a parent, I understand that there are only a few years before your child stops craving your attention and love. The nanny does not replace a parent, and never should. I’m not saying that nannies should not be used, and in many situations, the nanny will spend more time than the parent, but come on. You have the choice to put your child’s needs first, still work, but not realize your full working potential for a few years. A few short years.

    • A working woman could say the same thing about her career choice. Many working parents feel taking time away from their career will set them back too far if they take time out to care for the kids. The bottom line is what do you value more…the child or the career. I am a believer that we can’t have it all at the same time. Something will have to go on the back burner. For me it has been my career, but not everyone is willing to do that.

      • I totally agree with you about not being able to have it all “at the same time”. Despite what the magazines love to plug, in reality something has to go on the back burner.

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