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That Inconvenient Parenting Hurdle Called WORK

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momlogic's Vivian: Last week, I met a perfectly nice stay-at-home mom. We were chatting about our kids' upcoming school events, and when I told her I couldn't make a few of the umpteen upcoming events/presentations/meetings this month, her response gave me pause for a nanosec:

momandbabyandwork.jpg

"Aww..." she tsked, lips pursed. "You really have to miss all that?"

Mind you, this seemingly innocuous comment wasn't delivered in a tone that was sympathetic -- it was disapproving. And in response, my knee-jerk internal dialogue went a little something like, "Yes, B&*CH. I really do."

Fortunately, what came out was only the second part of the sentence -- the "I really do" part.

Now that I've simmered down a tad, I'm sure this offhand comment wasn't meant as a direct dig at me as a working mom. I like to think the best of people, and thus I'd like to think she was making a genuine declaration of empathy for my plight, having only the purest intent to commiserate with my own inherent disappointment.

But as a mom who needs to occasionally forego school events to earn a living, I've found that comments like this CAN rub me the wrong way. Why? Because it sounds like I actually have a choice to either work or spend time with my kids. She might ... but I don't. It kills me that I can't often take my kids on daylong sojourns to go play on grass, frolic on the beach or putter around the city, instead of cowering to the demands of our unpaid bills.

We working moms do the best we can to be there for our kids as much as we can, but we're also charged with paying those bills and putting food on the table. If those basic necessities weren't in place, missing yet another 9 o'clock "parents-as-math-partners" session would be the least of my problems.

It's bad enough that I wilt daily under an abundance of guilt at having to miss the occasional school outing/concert/volunteer event. To remind me of it as if there's something I can do to change it really s*cks.

Both working and stay-at-home moms face their own unique challenges. So in the interests of promoting peace between the camps, I'd like to encourage both sides to take just a second to think about how a comment might sound to the commentee BEFORE it escapes your lips.

Any of you guys ever hear an offhand comment that made you feel like s*it for having to work? Or for having to stay at home?


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14 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous June 10, 2010, 4:34 AM

I’ve been both a working mom and stay at home mom and I’ve heard snarky comments from both sides of the fence. Until you have put yourself in the shoes of others, you shouldn’t judge. Hang in there mama.

Jamie RN June 10, 2010, 4:37 AM

The author said it just right “Because it sounds like I actually have a choice to either work or spend time with my kids. She might … but I don’t”
. I’m SO tired of holier-than-thou SAHMs who act like I have a choice of working or not. If you or your spouse makes enough money one of you can stay home - otherwise you both work.

I was lucky enough to stay home for a brief time, but we just couldn’t afford it anymore. I have to say it was far and away the easiest, most stress-free time of my life!! Being a full time mom and working full time is harder than anything a SAHM can imagine and they should be more supportive of their fellow moms.

Dr. Michelle Golland June 10, 2010, 6:54 AM

As a working mom I thank you for your article because as I write this I am trying to figure out how host a party after my daughters debut as SCAR in Lion King and be able to deliver a speech that brings home the bacon. What will happen, the party will be fine and the speech will be fine. Living with my own limitations is the best lesson of all.

Courtney Mann June 10, 2010, 7:43 AM

I used to nanny for a woman who was a stay at home Mom and would get those types of comments all the time. Like, “well since you aren’t that busy could you…insert ridiculous favor here”. Everyone’s situation is relative. This woman had a high power finance job and wanted to spend time with her children during their formative years. She has had the best of both worlds in my opinion, but people made her feel badly for both not working and working. So the point is do what you want to do and don’t worry about other’s opinions because in the grand scheme of things they don’t matter.

calimommi June 10, 2010, 8:01 AM

I’m not sure why such devisive articles seem to be abundant. I’m tired of them! How about an article about moms ~ both working inside & outside the home~ who are true friends and work together to maintain their own frienships and those of their children. Who work together to put together fantastic school events. Who support one another in heatlth, home, and play. Who don’t criticize but support.

michelle June 10, 2010, 9:17 AM

You wrote “So in the interests of promoting peace between the camps, I’d like to encourage both sides to take just a second to think about how a comment might sound to the commentee BEFORE it escapes your lips.” You have this all backward. Here is MY suggestion: First, don’t call them “camps” (that’s part of the problem — duh!). Second, also think about how ridiculous it is to be “offended” by what escapes someone else’s lips. Their insecurities are their problem, not yours. Third, let’s focus on the many supportive friendships between SAHMs and WOHMs, which is much more the reality than some sort of stupid media-driven “war.” Oh, sorry, does that not draw enough pageviews for you, momlogic?

tennmom June 10, 2010, 2:23 PM

I am lucky, able to have stayed home since the birth of my older daughter, almost 13 years.
I will NEVER slam another mother for chosing or needing to work outside the home to take care of her family.
Sure, most of us had much rather work from home, decide upon our own work schedules, revolve them around our children, but some women just DON’T have the option.
How about we all agree that any parent doing the best they can do for their child(ren) is a stand-up person.

kvek June 10, 2010, 5:11 PM

A school mom once TSKD me and said “so sad” when I told her my kid was in after school.

Shirley June 10, 2010, 9:36 PM

I currently SAH, while not paid, it IS work. I take offense that I’ve somehow made a priviledged, self-indulgent choice. I wish I had a choice. I can’t find work to cover day care expenses. The judgements I receive imply that I’m lazy, unsuccesful, lack ambition and drive. Yes, I am Class Mom, write grant proposals, work salad bar, fundraise for enrichment programs, chaperone, kiss boo boos, etc. I am your village.

The sacrifices I’ve made are huge and the struggles constant. My life is not mornings at Pilates and cleaning ladies. There’s no lunch with friends, summer beach rentals, or shopping for new jeans. The working mothers I know have a much higher standard of living. That’s the real choice.

Renee June 11, 2010, 11:35 AM

To Shirley who wrote “the sacrifices I’ve made are huge and the struggles constant. My life is not mornings at Pilates and cleaning ladies. There’s no lunch with friends, summer beach rentals, or shopping for new jeans.

Now imagine making all those sacrifices, struggles and not having the same things but STILL having to work full time. I don’t think SAHM realize they DO have choice if they can stay home and still have a roof over their heads. Working moms don’t have that luxury.

XXXX June 12, 2010, 3:17 PM

I would’ve slapped the beotch!

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