This rant is inspired by an anonymous post on an Indie Author/Blogger Facebook page.
It’s the same ol’ song and dance. A group of women, in this instance authors like myself, called on the carpet for not being “helicopter parents” and *gasp* attending signing events or conventions–where they hope to make enough money to pay their electric/gas bill that particular month.
Guys, we’re trying to do what’s right by our children. Honestly. If that means missing a school event, so be it. Will we be late for that birthday party someone invited us to two days ago because we have a signing gig? You bet your ass. Nothing and no one will come between myself and the financial goals I’ve set in order to ensure my child wants for nothing. This is the general consensus I’ve seen from everyone fielding this flavor of criticism.
How do these trips impact my kid?
He loves it.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. Have been since we took custody of my nephew (Kiddo) nine years ago. Since I don’t drive, we’re often stuck at home with each other a lot with little to no options within walking distance to entertain ourselves. The nearest park is essentially a motel for the homeless and drug users. The school’s play yard isn’t really entertaining enough for my geekling; he’s too big for the meager play equipment. It’s an hour bus ride to reach safer, more engaging places for us to romp in town. That’s an hour plus of editing work I’m not doing for the sake of a little playtime. He and I agreed a while ago, it’s usually not worth the trip unless we’re making a full family day of it–movie, frozen yogurt, dinner, etc. Plus, those are hours he’d much rather spend killing orcs or dragons. What can I say? I raised a gamer by accident. We have plenty of family time, despite. It’s just not all day, every day. We’re perfectly content in our separate corners, one writing, the other laughing at whatever oddness he’s achieved in-game.
I really don’t appreciate anonymous people assuming convention/signing trips are all fun and games–this goes for myself and other authors lumped into this, “Not momming enough,” category–or that I’m running away from parental responsibilities. Authors work insane hours. Most also have at least one or two day jobs to put food on the table. And here we are, signing up to work three/four insane days, putting our socially awkward selves on display for potential readers at signing events or *literally* walking twenty miles a day across a convention floor. What do we get out of it? Sometimes just enough to cover our costs for the weekend, with hopes that new reader outreach will boost sales down the road. Lucky few walk out with enough cash to finally pay off their overdue cable bill so the kids can binge-watch My Little Pony without Mommy having to explain why there’s no ponies until next week–or the week after, or even a month down the road if finances are that tight. Kids don’t understand balancing budgets and picking which bill is the most important.
I work this much so Kiddo will never find out just how hard it’s been the last two years to keep the family afloat. Yet some people judge women like me for it. I sacrifice time with my kid to make sure he has clothes, food, and whatever books/games make him so giddy, he begs to stay up just another fifteen minutes. But somehow I’m a bad mother for, say, missing a school carnival when I’ve volunteered for every other one in the past; critics just don’t care to find out that part.
Are there author moms running away to join the figurative circus? Totally. No one is perfect. Are all author moms guilty of this? Not at all.
Why are we still harassing women for choosing to put career and family on the same pedestal of importance? Oh, right. We’re walking baby factories without the ability to make critical life decisions without a husband’s input. Get out of the history books. Get a friggen clue. Most importantly, get your nose out of our private lives and focus on your own. Quit transferring your guilt, frustration, and envy onto a group of women simply trying their best.