Ding ding, time’s up, put away your jugs and put on some pants (but please god, no more spandex). Now that I’m done making people, it’s back to making ads. Back to the working world after 12 months of living vicariously through Dora the Explorer.
So that’s it then. No more babies, no more reasons to not work (or eat whole pies). I’ll plug away for the next 25 years and eventually die at my desk, facedown on the F key. EFFFFFFFFFFF.
And I like my job! Sometimes I even love it. It’s advertising, so I’m surrounded by smart, hilarious, wonderfully fucked-up people. It ain’t licking envelopes, I’ll tell you that. But the reality of leaving my baby when she’s about to be an actual walking, talking person, to spend more than half of my waking hours with people I care way less about, is just not right.But most of us do it. And I guess I should be glad to have had this time with her at all. Americans get six weeks of mat leave, returning to the office with a briefcase in one hand and a doughnut pillow in the other.
So what’s a manic mother to do? Remind myself that there’s a bigger purpose to this work. And I don’t mean keeping a roof over their heads or taking them to Disney World. I mean doing things that will make a difference to how they think, how they turn out, and how the working world looks when they’re finally a part of it.
For one, I can represent the broads. Just 3% of advertising creative directors are female (though ladies influence 80% of consumer spending) and I’m one of them. It’s not a conspiracy, just the way it’s always been and change is slow. And the sexism out there doesn’t help. Just last week a Canadian web design firm posted an ad looking for a sometimes receptionist: “so female candidates are preferred.” I threw a typewriter. So I think it’s important for me to be here. Lean in or some shit. And help other women be better than me and, eventually, steal my job.
I can shake things up. Share what it’s actually like to be a middle-class mom. Suggest a woman for a role in a TV spot usually filled by a man BECA– USE IT’S 2015. Think beyond the male gaze and push for non-conventional beauty. Put two gays or et’nics in the same ad – GASP! Fight for a bullshit-free workforce for my kids, even if it means being a royal pain in somebody’s ass.
I can help clients make real change in the world. Advertising isn’t just about selling stuff. It’s often presenting information in a compelling way about things that matter, like not smoking in the car with your kids, ending violence against women, and understanding mental illness. Mommy’s not home, but I think she’s doing some good out there.
My husband and I can teach our kids equality by being equals. Mom and Dad both work. And we both do the dishes. And we both tuck you in at night. Staying home to raise your kids has its highlights. I envy stay-at-home moms sometimes. But I don’t envy the challenge of combatting the stereotypes forming in their kids’ heads. Dad gives good hugs too, guys. And Mom does way more than make sandwiches.
I can show my kids that they can be anything. You wanna be an artist? Here’s a map to the food bank AND HERE’S SOME PAINT. Growing up, all I loved to do was write. And with some practice and mentoring, that passion now pays the bills. You can be anything, no matter where you come from, no matter who you love, whether you’ve got tits or not. Maybe that’s not entirely true yet, but if people like me keep at it – it will be. Just in time for my kids to enjoy it – or, better yet, never know there was a problem.