What is the rudest question you can ask a woman?
According to "30 Rock" star Tina Fey, the answer is, "How do you juggle it all?"
In "Confessions of a Juggler," an essay in the Feb. 14 issue of The New Yorker, Fey touches on a longstanding fear of mothers everywhere: being seen as incapable of coping with the stresses of raising a child.
To be precise, Fey's essay explores the demands of juggling motherhood and a career, but a telling passage reveals, perhaps unintentionally, which of the two she regards as more stressful:
The ear-nose-and-throat doctor I see about some stress-induced canker sores offers, unsolicited, "You should have another one. I had my children at forty-one and forty-two. It's fine." Did she not hear the part about the stress-induced canker sores?
Which begs the question: why does admitting that parenthood isn't a walk in the park -- or asking a question that may demand such an admission -- carry a social stigma?
Brooke Burke, co-host of "Dancing With the Stars," recently appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" to talk about her new book, "The Naked Mom," in which she reveals her own struggle to balance work and family. Of her decision to write the memoir, Burke says, "I'm one of those mothers where I'm not ashamed to share my challenges and my difficult moments and also the things that I did right and the things that I'm learning."
The implication here is, of course, that there are many mothers out there who are ashamed to share their troubles.
The negative correlation between happiness and parenting has been tossed around in the press with some frequency in recent years, yet when a mother (or father) seems to crack under the strain, it still comes as a surprise. But should it?
Psychology writer Wray Herbert raised the issue of parental stress in a Feb. 2 piece on The Huffington Post, writing:
Study after study has shown that parents, compared to adults without kids, experience lower emotional well-being -- fewer positive feelings and more negative ones -- and have unhappier marriages and suffer more from depression. Yet many of these same parents continue to insist that their children are an essential source of happiness -- indeed that a life without children is a life unfulfilled.
Why might this be? Perhaps because admitting defeat is not an option. Despite the growing presence of Mommy Bloggers and the rise of "Mom-Lit," the pressure to never let them see you sweat endures. Mothers are still expected to have it all -- and have it all together.
So tell us, HuffPost readers: Is it rude of us to ask you how you juggle it all? Do you feel pressure to keep your parenting problems to yourself? Have you ever had a mommy meltdown, or at least come close to having one? Please share via the link below; your fellow parents will thank you for it.