A few years ago, I stumbled upon a harmless enough sounding website titled See Jane Work. The premise of supplying women with useful, attractive tools to manage our busy lives is inoffensive enough. Nothing wrong with a little stylish organization, I thought.
Then I wondered if I could find something like it called See John Work, a website developed to accomplish the same thing for men. You won’t be surprised to hear that it doesn’t exist. I did find websites called 'Office Depot' or 'Staples.' They sell similar kinds of stuff – but only to men I guess. We’ve come a long way, baby.
I didn’t really mind the See Jane Work website, or even the idea of it, until I came across my favorite thing: calendars for women, with an example already filled in so one could more easily grasp the concept of how one is supposed to utilize such a mysterious tool. This one was particularly disheartening, but not in the usual way. Sure, it had the usual notations I find maddening: in this case, our fictitious super mom of three had no less than six activities in one week scheduled for her own pleasure, including lunch and dinner dates, coffee catch-ups, a party, an exercise class and a walk with a friend. She also noted that she had to “order pizza” on Friday evening and “go grocery shopping” on Sunday.
Whew! Isn’t that the truth! I, too, find it’s so hard to remember stuff like that unless I write it in my calendar.
I want the kind of life – I swear to God I want to at least try it – where you are so ridiculously rigid or so blatantly not busy that you have the time to write ‘order pizza’ or ‘go grocery shopping’ on your calendar.
But that’s not the worst of it. Jump onto See Jane Work and you can buy a copy of something called the Mom Agenda. The agenda gives you room for multiple kids or commitments so you can schedule your week something like this one, from the sample pages: swimming class that conflicts with tumbling class that conflicts with soccer that conflicts with you baking brownies or cupcakes or attending enrichment puppet-making class, whatever that is. Somewhere along the line you can also write yourself this quick note, “don’t forget cello.” I studied the example weekly planner very carefully, and I couldn’t find cello lessons scheduled for anyone during this busy week. Maybe our super Mom is doing her Nero impersonation, if you will, and playing while her calendar (and her sanity) burns.
My very favorite notation on the Mom Agenda was this one that our stylish, organized Mom wrote to herself about picking up her daughter: “4:20 – pick up Jenna.”
4:20? 4:20??? Are you kidding me? What did she do before she became a mother, launch the space shuttle? My kids were lucky if I knew the right day to pick them up, let alone the right hour. Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad but I admit to driving them to places they didn’t need to be on days they didn’t need to be there for appointments they didn’t have.
I know what you’re saying. If I had used a planner like the Mom Agenda, I’d never goof that stuff up again. Well, you’d be wrong about that. I guarantee you I’d write it down on the wrong day.
You won’t be surprised to learn I discovered this whole bit of nonsense though another website: Alpha Mom. Yes, of course I checked. There is no website titled Alpha Dad.
While I was shopping for Christmas gifts, I stood in awe of the calendars on display in Barnes and Noble. More of this mom-madness. Ready? Here’s a sample of what I found: Mom’s Plan It (Plan it – get it?), Do-It-All Mom, More Time Moms, Mom’s Family Calendar and Mom’s Home Planet. All told, there were nine calendars designed specifically for Moms, one family calendar, one for teens, and one for college students.
There were ZERO calendars developed for Dads. ZERO.
You know why? Because the idea of a calendar that works very well for a woman vs. a calendar that works for men is ridiculous. Also because men understand that they don’t need a specific “man” calendar to schedule appointments or reminders about events. They would simply never support an industry as specious one that publishes “guy” calendars. The calendars men use have nothing to do with family, or noting soccer practice or school events or music lessons or buying groceries or ordering pizza. The only calendars I’ve ever seen men buy have women on them. There you go. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models. That’s a guy calendar.
Okay. I know men buy other calendars. Let’s just leave it at this: men use calendars as organizational tools and invest nothing more and nothing less into them. They don’t imagine they could ever validate them as men, or as fathers or as professionals. How very sensible.
It’s 2011. Thirty-nine short years ago, Ms. Magazine hit newsstands and put a printed stamp of legitimacy on the nascent women’s movement in this country. And just thirty-nine years later, I’m standing in Barnes and Noble facing a wall of “women are still more needy and less secure about themselves and their roles in life than men” calendars. We marched for this?
My question is: Why do some women still feel compelled to prove something amazing and marvelous about themselves to every other woman on the planet, in this case, something that usually involves uber-organization and efficiency, all wrapped up in the latest style?
Someday – with apologies to Tom Wolfe - I’m going to write a book and call it I Am Renee’s Planner. I’ll discuss the many life stages I’ve weathered – and triumphed over - using nothing but a 99-cent spiral notepad and a leaky pen. Maybe I can sell it on See Jane Work.