What’s the rudest question you can ask a mom? When she plans to lose the baby weight? Whether she’s breastfeeding? When she plans to get her kids under control? Whether she’s the mom or the grandma?
Not even close, according to Tina Fey. The brain and face behind NBC’s “30 Rock” writes in this week’s New Yorker that the rudest question you can ask a mom is this: How do you juggle it all?
The second rudest question?
Are you going to have more kids?
Fey’s essay “Confessions of a Juggler” is only viewable if you have a New Yorker subscription or if you buy this issue. It’s totally worth it because not only is it typically Fey funny but it’s a great illustration of modern working motherhood. Sure, most of us aren’t at her level of success. Not all of us have 200 people counting on us alone for their livelihoods, as are all those people who would be out of a paycheck if Fey took time off to have another kid, she points out.
But all of us — no matter what our careers — are having babies and raising kids in the same culture and age as Fey. To have kids and a career is a never-ending series of choices made admist a never-ending series of deadlines. Who gets my attention today? Tomorrow? For the next few months? Until I’m 40. After 45!
And to accuse any of us of juggling it all? Fey points out what many of us suspect off and on: asking a mother how she juggles it all is another way of telling her she’s not.
It’s all a big race against the clock — against lost fertility, lost years, lost wages. Ships, in the form of work opportunities, sail without mom on board on a daily basis. But the kids are cute, so what’s the big deal? It is a big deal but one you don’t dare contemplate, unless you want to be up all night getting stress-induced canker sores like Fey.
It’s too much, working motherhood. Too much. And also not enough, maybe. Which is what’s keeping Fey up at night.