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The Curious Case of the Working Mom

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Guest Blogger Daphne says: It's simple. I spend my days in an office while my husband works at home. Why are people so confused?

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I don't get much chance to mingle with the parents at my son's school. Since I work all day in an office, and my husband is at home, he's the one who takes James to kindergarten, picks him up, and arranges afternoon playdates.

So when it came time for the school fundraiser, I was eager to go out with my husband and really get to know these other grown-ups.

But then they started talking to me.

"Wow, where have you been? We NEVER see you at school," they all queried, though they know about my job. After the fifth person asked me, I headed for the bar and made a new friend named Chardonnay who didn't question my day to day whereabouts.

That's when I met up with another woman--let's call her Final Straw Mom. She said, smiling, 'It's so funny, the other day my son Damian said he didn't even know James had a Mommy."

Ok, really? What did he think? James was reproduced by spore?

I can cut people some slack. They're in a social situation, and they need an ice breaker. Here's a tip: Try the weather. Don't make me feel like a bad mom because I'm at work all day. I know it's 2008, but I can't help but think if my role was reversed with my husband and he was the one with the ultra-busy desk job, no one would wonder aloud how he spends his time Monday through Friday.

Truth is, not only do I have to work to support my family, I need to for my sanity. I enjoy it. And although I miss my son when we're apart, more often than not, being a working mom helps me focus on really just being with him during the time we do spend together each day.

I don't know how I'll feel when my husband does go back to work full-time. But right now, all I can say to those parents who wonder where I've been is this: Next time we meet, could you just say "Nice to see you"?

What about you? Do you feel judged by others for the work you do, whether it's at home with kids or in an office?


next: Mommy's Dirty Little Secret
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
angie April 13, 2008, 1:36 PM

this is sooooo true. it’s hard enough to be working and balancing family life we don’t need a constantly commenting peanut gallery, thankuverymuch.

Cyndi April 14, 2008, 9:13 AM

I wonder. Are you the only mom that is a working mom?
I’m a Stay at home mom, only because with one car in the family and my husband’s unpredictable schedule (as a chef), I don’t have a choice. Trust me, I would much rather have sanity and help bring home some money. Until we get another car, that won’t be the case.
I think they’re just jealous. I think they want to be back at work but won’t admit it. All those silly comments are Envy. Don’t feel like a bad mom. You are a great mom. You get to work (sanity) and spend quality time with you child.

Sister Honey Bunch April 14, 2008, 4:14 PM

I hear ya, sister. It’s frustrating on so many levels. Most recently I have been annoyed because every committee for my son’s school seems to meet during the middle of the day. I would be thrilled to join and volunteer if they would even plan the meetings closer to the end of the day. They don’t get it.

Liz September 28, 2009, 5:23 AM

There’s a psycho social theory for this - invented back in the 60s. We’ve come a long way since then; man has walked on the moon, women have become priministers in many countries around the world and even a female US President would not be such a surprise.

Yet when it comes to being a working mom, Stigma theory is alive and kicking! Many highly motivated and capable women feel it as keenly as the pain of childbirth itself - unless you were lucky enough to have an epidural.

It is still normal for mom to pick up and drop off, for mom to cut her hours or not work at all…. BUT, women are twice as men to say their ideal family has both parents working; for all the reasons you’ve said eg using your brain in a different way, seeking adult conversation, being valued in a different way, increasing the standard of living for your family - yet somehow this doesn’t quite make it in to action. The result - frustration, anger, withdrawal, demotiation etc The worst thing is stereotypes and stigmas they are subconcious - often we don’t even realise we’re doing it - eg the Last Straw Mom. We’ve all got them and we all react to them - become aware of it is part of the (long) journey to change. The best thing I’ve found in the mean time is to accept they exist and say to myself “It’s their problem, their stereotype, I’m not gonna make it mine” then smile, wish them well and give thanks that I am aware of just one more stigma and being aware, I shall aim to be supportive not demening - although we all do say stupid things sometimes!


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