So there’s some inequity in the workplace, yes? Apparently this is a thing. As in, women still get paid less for doing the exact same work as men, and we don’t get paid when we take time off to have babies (you know, to support the human race and all). But there’s even more madness for women who are working moms, who often pay a higher emotional tax for the decision to work than our male counterparts. Being a working mom, here are five things I’ve heard so many times that I want to stab myself in the eyeball and that I guarantee my husband has never been asked:
1. Are you coming back after the baby’s born?
It’s a funny question, really, that so many moms hear while they’re pregnant. I don’t blame people for being curious, as it wouldn’t be atypical to decide to stay home, but I don’t think men are ever questioned about this. It drove me nuts that even as the higher income earner in our household and with a more advanced degree, I was the only one who got this question.
2. Does it bother you that someone else is raising your child?
Okay, just stop with this one. Just stop. Daycare is a blessing for our family, a place where my daughter safely learns and thrives in leaps and bounds. My husband and I raise our child, okay? Inferring that her teachers raise her is as logical at 8 months old as it is at 8 years old, and I’m fairly certain no second-grade parents get this question. Whether they’re infants or bubbly teenagers, all kiddos spend time with other caregivers, but our values and beliefs—the heart of our family and what we hope to instill in a future generation—are set at home by us. It breaks my heart when people ask this, but has my husband ever received this question? Negative.
3. You must be so tired. Do you ever just want to throw in the towel and stay home?
Uh, yes, every five minutes. If you define “throwing in the towel” as “I want to cry, or run away, or scream at an innocent stranger.” Working people are tired even without kids, so yes, as parents we are way more tired than we ever knew people could be. But that doesn’t mean we can or should quit, as tempting as it may be 12 times an hour. This one’s frustrating because while men are also well-deserving of sympathy for the fatigue associated with new babies, no one assumed my hubby was going to just quit because of it, like he was somehow tougher than me in this whole experience.
4. Do you think you’ll get a nanny when you have another?
Hold the phone. First, you’re assuming I’m having another baby, and then you ask about my hypothetical future childcare options? I love my husband. He is a phenomenal dad. But I’d love to see his facial expression if ever asked this.
5. You probably can’t work as many hours with a baby, huh?
Actually, I can, but it might not look exactly the way it did before, and I’m going to need flexibility to do it. My husband and I both work full-time outside the home, and we both make up hours on nights and weekends when parenting calls us away during the day. I long for a day when workplace culture recognizes that both moms and dads are caregivers who deserve flexible scheduling options. But until then, the assumption should not be that women have to work less as moms. My husband didn’t get this question; there was way more more blind faith that he could manage this new normal without having to make professional sacrifices.
Overall, it’s hard for all parents, regardless of where they work or their gender. It’s just particularly frustrating to be a career-driven woman and hear these questions over and over again, like we’re given an immediate professional handicap upon receipt of our motherhood card. We can’t fix things overnight, but we can be strong when these questions fly in, taking a deep breath and sticking to our guns. If nothing else, let’s work together to iron out these gnarly gender stereotypes and outdated workplace dynamics that make it so much harder than it needs to be for working moms.