Marissa Mayer, meet the Mean Girls.
I’d say, “Mean Girls, meet Marissa Mayer,” but they’ve already made it clear that they don’t need to meet the still-kinda-new Yahoo CEO and still-very-new mom before they burden her with expectations born of their own inadequacies.
Mayer has been in the news quite a bit recently: when she was appointed CEO of a Fortune 500 company last summer, the fact that she was a young woman was, even in this enlightened age, unusual.
The fact that she was pregnant at the time was right-off-the-charts news, and her subsequent bulletin that she planned to take only a two-week maternity leave before heading back to her purported $100-million-over-five-years gig made the Punditverse explode with judgment.
Mayer’s back at work now and now that her female parts have become part of the Yahoo SEC filings, she was interviewed and said something really controversial.
You’ll want to sit down, because this is a doozy: Mayer noted that the baby’s been easier than she expected. It’s important to note that Mayer didn’t describe what she actually expected out of this motherhood gig; it’s entirely possible she expected an experience just this side of the Bataan Death March and is figuring she got lucky with “just” a case of mastitis and a cracked tailbone.
But Lisa Belkin, a columnist at Huffington Post, has begged Mayer to quit saying divisive, incendiary stuff like that, because it made other moms with not-so-easy babies dislike her. And it puts pressure on other new, working moms to have easy babies and short leaves, or they won’t get cool jobs like running Yahoo. Wait, what? A new mom makes a subjective evaluation of an experience that differs wildly for all of us, and we’re slamming her? According to Belkin, Mayer has a responsibility to dampen her drive and work ethic so we can all get CEO jobs after a six-month maternity leave and a few years of part-time work.
I thought motherhood was going to be a dreary slog of responsibility and crushing obligation. I was pleased to find, even in the first few weeks, that it was not dreary, not crushing, and continues to be the most delightful thing I’ve ever done. I guess I’m not supposed to say that, though, because it makes Lisa Belkin feel bad.
But maybe it’s not that easy for Mayer. Did anyone stop to think that she was just trying to suck it up and put a good face on the same desperate exhaustion and feelings of insecurity that many new mothers feel? Maybe because she’s being paid a small fortune to make sure shareholders don’t get antsy if the CEO admits that this motherhood thing she assured them she could handle is an epic mess and she still has to sit on a rubber ring? Would that make the haters feel better?
Here are the Facts of Life: Marissa Mayer is not a role model. Not all babies are difficult. Promotions still should go to the people who devote more time and energy to their jobs, not dumbed down to account for sabbaticals, even the ones devoted to motherhood.
Being a mother for the last 23 years hasn’t been all that hard. My kids have been (wait for it) pretty easy.
What’s hard? The catty judgments from the Mean Girls.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.