Below is an excerpt from Reductress book How To Win At Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having It All — And Then Some! by Reductress, Beth Newell, Sarah Pappalardo and Anna Drezen.
“Having it all” is an ideal we all strive toward, but few of us ever fully achieve, sort of like nirvana or a thigh gap. If you feel you have it all (or at least most of it), that’s wonderful! Namaste, girlfriend! Now comes an important step in any female success: playing it down. Here’s how to make sure the satisfactory work−life balance you’ve fought tooth and nail for doesn’t make anyone resent you.
Say “sorry” if someone walks in on you pumping breast milk at work.
Whether you’re in your corner office or a designated lactation room, make sure to apologize to the young male intern who has never heard the sound of a breast pump before. As soon as he breezes in, say, “I’m sorry for making the best choice for me and my baby in a way that does not interfere with my work. I will switch to formula from now on.” Toss the pump out the window in a show of good faith. Your intern will be speechless with gratitude!
Apologize to your baby for having a Ph.D.
Studies show that babies as young as two months old can tell when their mothers think they’re better than everyone else. Even though she can’t speak yet, it’s good to start apologizing to your baby early, so that she can develop the apology part of her brain. As you rock her gently to sleep, whisper, “I’m sorry for being one of the leading chemical engineers in North America. That’s super self-involved of me. I love you, baby.” Then take your framed doctorate off the wall and replace it with any Anne Geddes photo where the babies look particularly sorry. You might have it all, but a judgy baby should not be one of them!
Pretend to miserably do paperwork during your daughter’s recital.
You made sure to finish all your work early so you could be here, but don’t let that balance show! You don’t want the other dance moms to envy the look of total contentment in your eyes, so it’s best to bury those eyes in a sheaf of paperwork. Shuffle a miserable amount of papers and scribble on them furiously, only glancing up at the show once or twice. It’d be nice to enjoy this special moment you worked so hard to be present for, but it would be even nicer to have your choices tacitly approved of by the near strangers in your midst. Get to work!!!
Weep over a picture of your children, even though they’re in day care downstairs.
Let your coworkers see just how hard it is for you to be away from “your babies,” who are currently being tended to in an excellent child-care facility on the fourth floor. Sure, you just spent a rainy three-day weekend indoors with the kids and are glad to be back around other adults, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use this opportunity to validate your childless colleagues’ life choices. It’s not like they have any idea your company provides a day care with a three-to- one child-to- caretaker ratio as part of its standard benefits package. If you want to show how sorry you are for having it all, let your salty tears fall on your kids’ Little League photos as if they call the nanny “Mommy.”
Whenever another PTA mom asks how old your kids are, stammer an incorrect answer.
Of course you know their ages — you’re their mom! You even incorporated their birth dates into a meaningful geometric tattoo on your inner bicep. However, pretending to forget how old your kids are is a great way to confirm the suspicions of stay-at- home moms in your social group. When Leah’s mom asks, “How old is your youngest?” manufacture a look of panic, tilt your head to the side, shift your weight to your other leg, shake your hair off your face, and mutter, “S-sevix. Six. Sevenish. Six or seven. Look, mind your business! I’m a working mom!! Oh God, I’m so sorry. So, so sorry.” Not only will you succinctly apologize for maintaining your career while starting a family; you’ll also assuage your own guilt at living a life otherwise free of guilt. Sevix it is!
Look like hell.
Wherever you are, it’s important to look like garbage, even though you had no problem losing the baby weight and have a style that’s neither matronly nor severe. Show your regret for making it work by turning your kemptness down a notch. Apply three honey-nut Cheerios onto your blazer before all presentations. Scream into a giant cell phone while picking your daughter up from school. Wet your blouse over both nipples as if to say, “My breasts yearn to nurse my ignored child,” even if you did buy the pricier nipple shields. Being a physical wreck is the best way to say, “Sorry my life is baseline manageable.”
Say “I’m sorry” every hour, on the hour.
Just in case your happy life has made anyone else feel bad in the past few minutes, say, “I’m sorry” out loud every hour. To be on the safe side, set an alarm on your phone so you don’t forget. Having it all is nice and all, but that doesn’t give you license to throw it in everyone’s faces! Be considerate of other people’s bitterness and apologize on a regular basis. But also make sure to occasionally miss a scheduled blanket apology; you don’t want people knowing how in control you are of your busy schedule! Remember, being an active participant in your children’s lives while maintaining your identity as an adult and establishing your professional legacy is no excuse to enjoy yourself! Apologize regularly for having it all, and who knows? Maybe you’ll get through life without being such a showoff!
Copyright © 2016 by Elizabeth Newell, Sarah Pappalardo, and Anna Drezen. Reprinted with permission by HarperOne, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers.