By now you’ve heard the kerfuffle over Yahoo!’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, and if you haven’t, please tell me the location of the rock you live under, and do you have room for one more?
Yahoo! announced Monday that Mayer — Google’s 20th employee and first female engineer — has been hired to breathe new life into the struggling company, but all anyone seems to care about is the life gestating inside her. Spawning the latest battle in The Mommy Wars, it turns out Mayer is not only six months pregnant, but intends to work throughout her brief maternity leave. What should be a celebration of women in leadership roles and the evolution of the corporate mindset has instead been overshadowed by criticism of Mayer for setting false expectations of motherhood.
“I… WHAT, now?” — Marissa Mayer, upon realizing she’s signed on to revive a floundering corporation, oh and also represent working mothers and women everywhere if you don’t mind, thanks!
I know what you’re thinking: Yahoo! still exists? That aside, the internet is up in arms over Mayer’s decision to forego a full maternity leave. One camp is worried about what this will mean for women; will we all be expected, or feel pressured, to return to work immediately after giving birth? Another group sits back smugly awaiting her failure, certain that’s exactly what she’ll do given this is her first child and she has no idea what she’s getting into. Another yet chimes in to remind us, helpfully, that men don’t struggle with these decisions (not the least notably because men don’t possess uteri).
As for me, my expectations of mothers and motherhood haven’t changed as a result of Mayer’s announcement. As always, I still expect mothers to be free to make the decisions that best suit them and their families, and I expect the public at large not to judge them for those decisions. TALK ABOUT FALSE EXPECTATIONS.
I think it’s safe to say, though, that if you weren’t a CEO before becoming pregnant, you’re probably in the clear of any expectation to be one after the fact. So for those who feel threatened by Mayer’s personal choices, let’s remember that no one person represents an entire population. Mothers have always made headlines, and there are no expectations of you to follow in their footsteps as a result. In some cases, it’s highly discouraged.
Kourtney Kardashian and Every Celebrity Who Has Bounced Back To Her Pre-Pregnancy State Immediately Post-Baby
Ladies, not only are you not expected to hop out of the stirrups and take a meeting on declining market shares, nobody’s expecting you to walk out of the hospital in the skinny jeans you wore when you conceived your little bundle of pressure to measure up. If bouncing back to your pre-pregnancy state isn’t what pays the bills — and particularly if you don’t have the trainers and chefs and nannies and housekeepers and assistants on hand to support you in achieving that goal — we’ll all understand that you’re a normal person with normal life demands and it’s going to take some time. This is what Lycra is for.
Mariah Carey, CEO of Extravagance
Unless you’re one of the best-selling music artists of all time, you shouldn’t feel inferior for not throwing your kid’s first birthday party in Paris — complete with black-tie attire — as Mariah Carey recently did. Nobody’s judging your Carvel ice cream cake and backyard moon bounce, aside from your kid once he catches a glimpse of little Monroe Cannon’s sweet baby Ferrari. But your kid will always judge you; that’s the only realistic expectation of motherhood.
Britney Spears and Other Generally Questionable Parents
More than any other, it’s important to understand that this category especially does not represent motherhood. They actually set expectations so low, it’s hard not to look like Mother of the Year in comparison. Forget any pressure to return to work before your episiotomy can scab over; as long as you’re not driving with your infant on your lap a la Britney or exploiting one kid after another Dina Lohan-style, rest assured you could be doing a lot worse.