I got this press release in my e-mail box this morning…
34th Annual Outstanding Mother Awards
2012 honorees to date include:
Nina Garcia, Fashion Director of Marie Claire and Project Runway Judge
Karen Hoguet, Chief Financial Officer of Macy’s, Inc.
Gayle King, Co-host of “CBS This Morning”; Editor-at-Large, O, The Oprah Magazine
Lisa Price, Founder of Carol’s Daughter
71st Annual Father of the Year Awards
2012 honorees to date include:
Oscar Feldenkreis, President & Chief Operating Officer of Perry Ellis International Inc.
Reynold Levy, President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Shaquille O’Neal, TNT Commentator, four-time NBA Championship winner and three-time Finals MVP
These awards have bothered me for about twenty years now; ever since I first heard about them. I love the concept, and applaud the charity work this organization does, but I consider the awards themselves to be inherently flawed.
My reasoning is simple: there’s a good chance that the real mother and father of the year are people none of us have ever heard of, and the people that are honored every year are famous for their accomplishments in the workplace.
I’ve got nothing against any of these honorees. I’m sure they do their very best to be good parents, and more than likely are good parents during the time they have with their children. But their time with their kids has to be extremely limited. There’s no way around that. Each of them have time-consuming jobs.
Of the women listed, two of them have two full-time jobs. Another one is a CFO, and the fourth runs a charitable organization. Two of the men are also CEO/Presidents and the third is a professional basketball player that is on the road six months every year.
I realize that no-one would attend a banquet honoring no-names, and these banquets are first and foremost a fundraising opportunity for the organizers of the events, but the reason I think the actual mother and father of the year aren’t well known is because they give their children something that this distinguished list can’t give them. They give them their time.
Again, I’m not besmirching the honorees. They didn’t ask for this recognition. I’m sure they are all good people who do their best. But I suspect if you asked any of them if they are deserving of the award, they would all say no. Every successful person I know feels constant guilt that they can’t spend more time with their children.
I feel uncomfortable even bringing this up, because it sounds like I’m endorsing one type of parenting over another, or that I’m saying that working parents can’t be good parents. I’m not saying that all. Nearly all of the working parents I know are actually excellent parents, and I can’t believe they do it as well as they do.
I’m just saying that in order to achieve greatness in the workplace (which all of the nominees clearly have), you have to be driven, and you have to spend a lot of time and effort doing it. Doesn’t it figure that the same sort of time and effort is necessary to achieve greatness as a parent?
This is where the “24 hours in a day” clock gets in the way.
Nobody is a superhero, capable of greatness in both areas. I just don’t believe it’s possible.
I’d love to see some names on this list that I’ve never heard of. The mom or dad that can always be counted on to volunteer and help, and brings his or her kids along to see what kind of commitment is necessary to be a good citizen. The mom that runs the house where all the kids congregate after school for a safe and happy play environment. The mom or dad that raises multiple children under less than ideal financial circumstances, or in difficult neighborhoods, but still manages to guide them to a better life.
It’s not sexy, and it won’t draw the kind of attention or raise the kind of money that this current event raises, but to me, those are the real mothers and fathers of the year.*
*And obviously I’m not talking about myself here–I don’t call this column “Father Knows Nothing” for no reason.