The Parent Trip

The Parent Trip
By Shelby Cain

I recently watched two commercials that got under my skin.  Although quite different, both developed the same feeling in me.  Inferiority.

The first was about moms working from home.  It was advertising a college in the States or something, but it depicted this beautifully groomed woman wearing a headset and talking on the phone while she cut grapes for her beautifully groomed children.  It promised you could be productive in the work force and even participate in a conference call while being home and caring for your children.  At first I laughed.  Then I got mad.

Basically this commercial is trying to tell me that while I’m home with my two young kids I should be just as capable as someone sitting in an office, alone, completing a full day of work.  Doing what?  I have no idea.  But that wasn’t the point.  The point was that I apparently have a lot of free time to fill in my day.  And while I’m working, my kids will sit quietly and wait for their grapes.  Hilarious.  Whenever I dare to attempt a phone conversation my kids sense a small portion of my attention has been diverted and start running around like the house is on fire.  Shrieking and climbing each other with an ‘every man for himself’ mentality.    I don’t think my work colleagues on the conference call would appreciate that.  They’d think I was calling from a prison or something.

So I started thinking about all the real women I know that work from home with kids, and I spent the weekend talking with them.  Potters and jewelers and painters.  Writers and professors and bee queens.  Talented women, scraping together fragments of time.  Working at night and early in the morning.  For the money?  Ideally.   But maybe more for a way to express themselves, and that comes with the priceless reward of pride.  It isn’t easy.  And I guess that’s the part of the commercial that really got me fired up.  Women can work while they have kids at home.  And they can be successful and enjoy what they’re doing.  But it won’t look like that commercial.  And that’s ok.

The other commercial that got me was for the Victoria Secret Fashion Show.  Just like the calm lady with the headset, I watched in awe, thinking, can this be real?  It was like an anorexic unicorn parade, previously existing only in folklore, until CBS decided to air it in prime time.  I watched their thighs not jiggle as they trotted down the runway, beautifully groomed and possibly about to take flight… then I shut off that stupid T.V. and fed my kids some grapes.

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