Ruth Marcus: Truly Good Mothers and 50s Dad

BY RUTH MARCUS Published: October 20, 2012
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How does that attitude translate to the workplace? Romney and his fellow managers find themselves on a treacherous gender tightrope. They must simultaneously be open to crafting flexible workplaces for women — and, might I suggest, maybe even men — without assuming that all women require such accommodations.

Contrast Romney's remarks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent comments about the can-women-have-it-all dust storm kicked up by her former director of policy planning, Anne-Marie Slaughter. Where Romney seemed broad-brush, Clinton differentiated.

“Some women are not comfortable working at the pace and intensity you have to work at in these jobs,” Clinton told Marie Claire magazine. “Other women don't break a sweat. They have four or five, six kids. They're highly organized, they have very supportive networks.”

In our family, I'm the one who has cut back on work to be with the kids. I'm the one who hustles, on the nights we aren't reduced to take-out, to get something that passes for dinner on the table.

This was my choice. It was correct but not easy. Listening to President Obama talk about juggling work and family, I feel as if he gets that tension, because he has lived it. “A lot of times, we felt like we were just barely keeping everything together,” he said of their Chicago days. “When we were at work, we were worrying about what was happening at home. When we were at home, we were worrying about work.”

Listening to Romney, I imagine that he'd be willing to pick me from those binders full of women, and even make it easy for me to get home at a reasonable hour. But I worry that he'd be thinking, secretly, that if I were a Truly Good Mother, I wouldn't be there in the first place.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP



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