Freud did a nice job of spelling out our hangups about sex. According to his Madonna-whore complex theory, men enjoy sleeping with beautiful, lascivious women, but will only marry a “good girl.” (Cue Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”) Women — in a bid for men’s attention and approval — bought into this paradigm, tamed their lustful ways and painted themselves as sexless women — devout wives and mothers with ne’re a lusty thought to be had. They teach their daughters: Good girls don’t.
In other words, it is impossible for a woman to be both an evolved sexual adult who enjoys pleasures of the flesh, while at the same time being a devoted, loving mother.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way. As a single mother who actively dates, I have found myself in a sexual awakening that happens to coincide with becoming a parent. And most women I know are awesome moms who chat casually about their pursuit of sexual fulfillment. I don’t hear many men complaining.
But we still have a long way to go when it comes to being a working mother. Despite the decades that we’ve been breaking through glass ceilings and rising through the ranks at jobs outside the home, so many women suffer a big complex about being a working mom. This working-mom complex is making your family life hell, compromising your professional life and your own sanity.
Don’t take it from me. Recent studies are all over this. A full 40 percent of respondents to Pew’s 2009 General Social Survey told researchers they believed a mother’s working was harmful to her children — up eight points from 1994. A more recent Pew survey found that the majority of Americans say it is harder to raise kids when the mother works outside of the home — despite the fact that women now account for 40 percent of families’ breadwinners.
Therein lies the paradox: We need to work, yet we feel bad about working. The message is this: You cannot be a good mom and also work outside the home.