Whether it’s media experts making sure everyone knows that in a perfect world we’d be staying home or teachers who lay on the guilt because we can’t volunteer at the next class party, there’s never a shortage of people ready to step up and remind working moms that we’re supposedly part-time moms.
And yet, we’re the majority! Most moms do work, part-time or full-time, and that means more than a few of us have been at the receiving end of one or more of the things you should never, ever say to a working mom (unless your goal is to get hit). Things like:
1. You’re so lucky to get a break. Seriously? I don’t know where you’re coming from, but in my universe shimmying into pantyhose at 6:30 a.m. to go do office chores (or in the case of other mamas, teach other people’s kids, perform surgery, code, operate heavy machinery and so on) is not a break. And do you honestly mean a break from my kids? I don’t want or need a daily break from the two people I can’t stop thinking about during the eight hours I spend chained to my desk.
2. You’re missing out on so much. Trust me, I know, but thanks for the friendly reminder. Even though my childcare provider is sweet enough to keep her mouth shut, there’s a good chance that my kids’ first steps and first words actually happened on her watch instead of mine. But last time I checked, we’re all missing out on something by virtue of there being only 24 hours in a day. And for all you know, your little one said her first words for grandma or the sitter.
3. You look exhausted! You don’t say… or rather, you shouldn’t say because hearing about how haggard I look is not going to erase the wrinkles from my tired old face. Am I supposed to thank you for your concern? Because unless you’re going to follow up that statement with a gift certificate from Canyon Ranch, please reconsider letting it come out of your mouth.
4. Do you really have to work? First off, none of your damn business. Maybe I do, in which case the sacrifices I make would probably be that much easier to bear without judgmental people putting in their two cents. Or maybe I am super passionate about my career and love that I am able to show my kids that women can do anything they set their minds to do. Either way, what you’re really asking is whether I can afford to stay home or if I secretly want to get away from my children, and both questions are just plain rude on so many levels.
5. I read that kids in childcare are more aggressive. Or score lower on tests. Are less attached. Grow up to be drug dealers. Whatever. I know the studies. There is no conclusive replicable evidence that kids who go to daycare are doomed, so can it. Why would you even think I need you to tell me how I’m screwing up my kid? Or if that’s how we’re going to play, I guess you’re OK with me making a list of all the ways you’re screwing up yours?
6. Don’t you miss them? Of course I fucking miss them! Unless you’re prepared to tell me that you’re not sure if you’d miss your kids, it sounds an awful lot like you’re implying that I don’t.
7. You must be so organized! Sometimes this statement is followed by “I could never do all you do,” but let me tell you that if you were in my shoes, you’d figure it out fast. I’m not going to beat around the bush – being a working mom is hard. And if you’re not organized, it’s not just hard, it’s hell. And so I work my ass off to be as organized as I can because if I didn’t, our lives would descend into chaos.
8. It must be so hard for you. Yup, it is. Being a working mom does not mean that I can magically afford a maid, a chef, and a live-in nanny. All the stuff at home that I was on the hook for during my SAHM years is still on my plate. I cook. I clean. I bring home the bacon and I fry it up in a pan. Here’s an idea – if your husband cooks and cleans and brings home the bacon on top of it all, why not thank him today? Because if you think it’s so hard for me, clearly it’s hard for him, too.
9. I couldn’t let someone else raise my children. Excuse me, but I am raising my kids. Last I checked, earning money to put food on the table and pay for things like dance lessons IS raising my kids. Or are you telling me that your husband is letting someone else raise his children – that someone being you? After all, he goes to work every day just like I do. Does he know you think he’s less of a parent?
10. Women should be at home with their kids. Um, no. Women should be wherever they damn well please. Full stop.
Look, I try my hardest every day to respect and support ALL moms. Working moms. SAHMs. WAHMs. Moms who seem like they have everything under control. Moms who obviously have nothing under control. I admire all the moms who love their kids and do their best because we all struggle – it’s just that sometimes our struggles are different. Is that a reason to disrespect one another? I say no, and if you agree the best thing you can do is think before you open your mouth.
No matter what kind of mom you’re talking to.
Related post: 5 Things I Learned From My Working Mom