With the smugness of someone in the winner's circle, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski churlishly chastised women for not having babies while also having careers. Her commentary lacked any compassion for the many women who desperately wanted husbands and children, but fate -- not desire -- worked against them.
As she recently wrote, "You should go for your dream career but never forget that you're a woman who deserves a balanced life that includes a loving family."
Yup, that's true Mika, but also naïve and simplistic. Not everyone's dreams come true. I know. They're in my office and my home and I'm helping them rebuild lives with broken dreams.
They're the women who went out on countless dates that never turned into marriage proposals. They're the women who meet divorced men who say they don't want a second family and must make the Faustian bargain of having a husband but no children of their own. They're the women who went out with men who promised a future and then two years into the relationship changed their minds leaving them devastated because they know the perils of time marching on and the pain of being a bridesmaid and not a bride. They're the women who got divorced before having a child because the man was emotionally or physically abusive and now time has run out.
I honestly don't know anyone who doesn't want a loving supportive partner in their life. Nor does any woman, thanks to researcher Sylvia Hewitt, believe any more that their window of opportunity for having children is finite. Ideally, and that is the word, one does have children in their 20s as Mika suggests, though that does curtail careers and create higher rates of divorce. Early 30s is still the best time to marry and procreate -- and possibly afford family life.
But it's not like a grocery list that you can just check off since there are many rotten apples out there and not every person gets rewarded for the fruits of their labor -- at work or at home.
I remember when I was in my doctor's office for my sixth in-vitro fertilization before having my son. The doctor asked why hadn't I married earlier. "I've always wanted to get married and have kids," I replied. "I know the stats. But you still have to find the right person."
Yes, after mustering the courage for a divorce, I got a healthy son, a second husband, and two stepchildren. But I never think it is because I was so smart or planned well. I know too many women who are caring, successful, beautiful, and smart, who don't have kids or a husband. I just have always respected how luck figures into life.
Not Mika. She breezily validates her thesis by pointing out how her 20-something assistant found this information so revealing, while negligently not looking beyond the fawning and into her own newsroom filled with forty-something women known as "news widows" whose choices weren't as plentiful as hers. Not only did they not have assistants but no assistance with management to, as she wrote, "shut down this computer and beat the rush hour traffic home to see my girls. After all, homework waits for no one."
These invisible but admirable women have no choice but to work long after rush hour so Mika can help with her kids' homework and they stay at the office around the clock helping produce shows and newscasts in order to pay their bills, put food in the fridge, and possibly squeeze in a few hours for any semblance of a social life.
Furthermore, many 20-somethings can't afford that extra bedroom yet for the baby nor childcare. But they are not the daughter of former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and didn't grow up with the opportunities she has.
I don't begrudge Mika for reminding women that time is finite and focusing on home life provides the richest rewards. Her normalcy is also to have things work out. She got the husband, the kids, the high-powered career, the great shoes and the opportunity to work with hunky Joe Scarborough every morning. How great is that?
But I guess I'm one of those other girls where nothing has ever come easy. My life has had many career and personal disappointments. So Mika, remember us when you're promoting your book, All Things At Once. Things don't always work out as you wish despite Herculean efforts. Sometimes it's also a lot of luck too. One has to work with the cards you're dealt and just play your best hand. Please show some tenderness to those women too.