In “The Lean In Generation Have Become Addicted to Work – It has to Stop,” Natalie Campbell describes the double day that involved parents live — rush off to work, come home to start the second shift of taking care of their family, then just a few more emails, and then bedtime. Then she writes, “It’s not that dissimilar for women without kids. Maybe the kids have been replaced by hours at the gym or dinner with friends while still sending emails.”
Wait, what? What does she mean by maybe? Campbell didn’t have to oversimplify. She could have asked. Women without children who work are plentiful. I would have told her about the choices I made willingly and how my mileage varied. I would have told her about all of those nights, weekends, and holidays I continued to work in the office long after my co-workers went home to their families and that I wasn’t at the gym. I’d tell her about the time I stood in front of a refrigerated section at a grocery store looking for some food to grab, in a hurry to get to work, but then tears formed because I was so tired of eating out of a package. I would tell her that when I was younger, my co-workers made hurtful assumptions like I was always available since I didn’t have kids, as if I weren’t a part of my own life. I would have told her about the many celebrations I missed and that the only vacation I had in a two year period was to attend my grandmother’s funeral. She might have asked about the treasure trove of frequent flier miles and I’d admit that it was exciting being a bi-coastal road warrior, but it had to be else the loneliness would have crushed me. We could have had a great conversation about work, its effects on our personal lives and our society, and compared scars.
Campbell asked the women readers with children to raise their hands. Everyone counts. Even though I’m childless by choice and she didn’t ask, I’m raising my hand too.