5/15/14

Is Beyonce a "full-time mom"?

I like to attempt to read while on the elliptical at the gym; it makes the grinding boredom go a little faster. Yesterday I happened upon this tidbit written by Sheryl Sandberg about Beyonce:



The line that struck me was this one: "In the past year, Beyonce has sold out the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour while being a full-time mother."

And it took me back to a similar article in People magazine (only the finest reading for me!) about Angelina Jolie while she was directing a movie in Europe that also specifically lauded her for being a "full-time mother."

Let there be no doubt that Beyonce is impressive. She's leading a world tour! She is promoting her album! She has her hand in the many different projects that continually promote and develop the juggernaut that is her brand!

And she has a two-year-old daughter. She is, without any doubt, a mother and I'm sure a very loving, devoted mother at that. But a 'full-time mother'?

If we consider the meaning of that phrase to be "a mother, all the time" or "having full custody of a child" then yes, of course, she is always a mother whether she is physically with her daughter at any moment or not.  She gets to own the moniker of "mother" in all ways. But that's not what "full-time mother" implies, is it?

What does "full-time mother" mean exactly?

Since I feel a little frothy at the mouth, let's consult Merriam Webster shall we?

Full-time: adj.

: working the full number of hours considered normal or standard

: done during the full number of hours considered normal or standard

: requiring all of or a large amount of your time


When we consider motherhood, what is considered "working the full number of hours"? Being the direct care-taker of a child for 40+ hours a week? Does night time count? (How about if you have a night nanny?) I certainly don't think any mother should calculate the number of hours she is in direct care of her child(ren) and then use that number to define whether she is a "full time mother" or "half time mother" or some other partitition. It feels silly to dither about the number of hours, when we all are doing what we can, how we can, given the circumstances and choices we are given. 

Ms. Sandberg is trying to lay out just how impressive Beyonce is. Just how talented and hard-working and successful and I don't deny her any of that. The idea that Beyonce is also the mother of a two-year-old just makes her all that much more impressive. I have no doubt that she is deeply invested in the daily life of her child. However, the idea that she is "full-time" in this endenvour does a disservce to the mothers who are the primary care-giver to young children, the ones giving "all or a large amount of their time" to the direct care of their children without assistance from nannies, chefs, maids, drivers or personal assistants. 

It is insulting to imply that Beyonce works "full time" at motherhood AND makes movies/albums/tours the world. When I was a "full time" mother of a two year old there were some days I didn't get to SHOWER, let alone cut an album. What is wrong with me? Why couldn't I do more?! BEYONCE DOES.

Let me be clear: I am in no way saying Beyonce or any other mother with a demanding career is less of a mother than one who is the primary care-taker for their child every day. (Though I am currently not working, I worked for over a year when my oldest was a year and a half! I plan to again someday! Yay for employed mothers!) But we belittle the true breadth and depth of the work of that is care-taking young children by implying that we should be able to have a demanding career while also being a "full-time mother."

How about we say that in addition to being a worldwide superstar, Beyonce is a "devoted" mother. Or a "loving" mother. Or a "dedicated" mother.
But please. PLEASE. Leave "full-time" out of this.




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