Dear Gwyneth Paltrow,
This is a letter to you from the trenches. You know, The trenches where you think you live; but in reality have never been near, much less in. I am a single mother of two. Working when my children were little and I was married, was somewhat of a choice because, with sacrifice, we could have gotten along with only my husbands salary. Not easily, mind you, but we could have done it…. I worked hard on earning a doctorate in veterinary medicine and felt the call to work and better myself in my profession. So I made the choice, as have you, to work and raise children. I never complained about how hard it was, because it was my choice. Was it difficult, sure. Do I think you have any idea how difficult it was, no. I do not think you, with your many support personnel at your beck and call, have any idea how difficult it is to choose to work, run a household and raise children.
My job, however, soon became a necessity during and after the divorce to be able to properly care for myself and my children. To reiterate, working was not a choice but a necessity. I was actually one of the lucky ones that had the education and training to be able to support my children, again not easily, nor without sacrifice, without help. Imagine all the stay at home mothers out there who have to find “routine” jobs with no skills or education. I’m sure they have no choice but to accept the “routine” job they get. Yet, you state they have it so much “easier” than you. I think not.
I do not, as most women do not, have a 9-5 job. My job is 8-6 M,T,Th,F (with the occasional Wednesday thrown in), and 8-12 on Saturdays…. I sometimes work through lunch and even into the evenings and the weekend (as I like to call my Sunday off) as I frequently give my clients my cell phone number to call if they have any questions about their ill pets.
My job is not “routine”, most days are not filled with puppy and kitten visits (although the puppy and kitten visits are a lot of fun when they happen), but are instead filled with running tests, doing diagnostics, coming up with treatment plans, and doing surgery to try and save pet’s lives. Fortunately, for the most part, I can accomplish that. Sometimes, no medicine on earth can save a dying pet. So, quite a few of my days are filled with educating pet parents on their pet’s dire prognosis and helping them make end of life decisions. My work sometimes leaves me physically and emotionally exhausted. My work often leaves me financially exhausted, as well, since I am a sole practitioner and not only run my home but also run my business. Slow times happen in any business, and cause major stress when I have a responsibility to pay my employees before I can even think of paying myself. Yet my children and my staff need me so I am there for them, physically, emotionally, and financially. I do not compare myself to others and think that their jobs are easier than mine… Their jobs are simply different and can be just as physically, emotionally and financially draining as mine. I do not complain. I love and accept my choices and responsibility and work hard for the few things I, my children and my staff members have accomplished.
I do not, as most women do not, spend our day, working out, nor rehearsing, doing phone interviews, attending fittings, nor do I miss taking the children to school. If I didn’t take my children to school they would not get there. I do not, as most women do not, have the time, the energy, the assistance, nor the financial resources to have such luxuries. Add into that being a single mother means there is no one else to shoulder the burden. If we are lucky we can depend on friends or family. Hiring someone to help out, run errands, clean house, do laundry, maintain schedules, pay bills, grocery shop, preparing meals, helping with homework, lawn care, home repairs, practice extracurricular activities with the children, read bedtime stories; is, not nor ever will be, an option. We shoulder the burden. We do it because we love our children. We do it because we do not have the extravagant financial resources to do otherwise. Our choices are between paying the electric bill and buying tires needed for the car to pass inspection, not between Louboutin’s or Jimmy Choo’s.
Ms Paltrow, as you “consciously uncouple” with your fancy attorneys, trainers, agents, assistants, and nannies, imagine the rest of the world who go through nasty, down and dirty, plain old divorces. Who have to represent themselves Pro Se because we cant afford an attorney. Imagine us working our “routine” jobs which are usually not in the slightest “routine”. Imagine us having to take a day off work without pay, that we can not afford to do, because we have a sick child. Imagine the rest of us divorced and divorcing women without help, without assistance and struggling without enough time in the day to get everything done…..Without enough money to pay the bills.
As you transition into single working motherhood, I dare you to live one week in my shoes. The ones I buy on sale at a discount shoe store; and only when I have to. Maybe if you walk a mile, you will stop saying such obtuse comments about “working mothers” and their “routine” jobs. We understand you are a working mother. We understand that your career entails certain responsibilities that we do not have. But you need to understand that we have responsibilities that you do not have. And comparing yourself to us, with your abundant resources and luxuries is, frankly, insulting. We would like you to identify with us as single working mothers and will applaud your efforts. But you need to understand the difference between you and the majority of single working mothers. We do not begrudge you or your lifestyle. We do, however, resent your unenlightened attitude. We do not appreciate you comparing your life to ours, nor complaining about it. You should, instead, be grateful and appreciative of the many resources you have available.
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