Last weekend J and I went for a long run and stopped afterward to refuel ourselves with a delicious sugar-bomb smoothie. This was the first time in a while we’ve done this; back in Seattle, when we were training for our first (and only) marathon, we would go pretty regularly to Emerald City Smoothie near our old place on Capitol Hill. Our closest source for a smoothie now happens to be a Jamba Juice, and so it was that I found this artifact:
What caught my attention was “Kids and moms agree.” No dads, of course.
This is something that registers particularly strongly with me as J and I are thinking about having children in the next couple of years. Both of us want to be actively involved with caring for our kids, and to do what we can to make our work schedules flexible enough for that to happen. But if there’s one of us who is more likely to spend more time at home with kids, it’s me. J makes a lot more money than I do, for one thing; and her work is an 8-to-6 schedule, whereas some of mine can be done from home and with flexible hours.
I don’t mean to pick on Jamba Juice too much. “Mom” as shorthand for “parent” is everywhere in our culture. In many ways the prominence of mommy culture in books, blogs, and media is a great thing in that it raises the profile of caring for children as crucially important and meaningful work. Nor do I feel the need to complain as if I were being oppressed and marginalized here. To the extent men are “left out” of the child care scene, it’s because our societal values have privileged men and asssumed they would be doing the more prestigious, more “male” jobs in the marketplace. The Jamba Juice flyer is just a reminder of how far we still have to go before caring for children is seen as both equally valuable with other kinds of work, and something that people would naturally want to participate in regardless of gender.