Growing up I had 2 amazing parents who worked full-time to provide for me and my brother. Because they both worked, it was difficult if not impossible to be a PTA mom, attend field trips as a chaperon, pick me up from practice or come to games. I think it is even worse now at days with so many stay at home parents, there’s few opportunities to get involved outside of 9 am-2 pm, Monday-Friday.
If you open up your local Park District booklet of activities and events, 99% of them are during the day, during the week. Same goes for child related library activities.
Some schools don’t offer buses so the parents have to find a way to get their kids to and from school on a daily basis, then when the kids get out of school they need someone to look after them until the parents get home.
Doctors are another guilty party of rarely catering to working parents. And if you need to see a specialist, forget about it.
I’ve also heard of moms who criticize working mothers for taking an easier way out. For example, one mom made an underhanded comment to another about how she makes her own baby food. Implying she cares more about her child vs. the working mother probably not having the time of day to blend up baby food. I’ve also seen how cliquey and judgmental a group of stay at home moms can be which is really unfortunate. I think it’s more difficult for working moms to meet other moms as well.
I’m always hearing about how amazing stay at home parents are and how it’s the hardest job on the planet. I have an amendment to that: being a working parent is the hardest job on the planet. Period. And here’s why.
Well before I get into that, I need to say that being a stay at home parent is difficult in and of itself. I get it. This is not to discredit any stay at home parent. Keeping a child entertained all day every day is a task in and of itself. I would just like to see working parents get a little more love.
I’m sure that the large majority of mom’s would love the opportunity to spend even 1/2 days with their children much less how lucky stay at home moms are that they get all day with their loved little ones and get to raise them fully vs. their kids being in the hands of virtual strangers 8+ hours a day. You don’t have the worry of leaving them at daycare or with a sitter, leaving them when they’re sick, or the guilt trips that I hear from parents constantly about their children clinging to them, begging them not to go to work. The one that almost brought me to tears was from a friend who said her young daughter hugged her, looked at her with admiring albeit sad eyes and said, “Mommy, you’re my best friend. Why do you leave me every day?” Can you say heart wrenching?
Aside from the emotional strain of being a working parent, there is the obvious, which is you have to work a full-time job. You have to function 8 hours a day (at least), impressing your bosses/clients/prospects, while making yourself presentable every morning and putting on a happy face after little sleep. THEN you have to commute home, spend the little bit of precious time with your children that you have left after you finally make it in the door, possibly make dinner, wash them up for bed, clean, prepare for the next day, put the kids to bed, maybe spend time with your partner, get yourself ready for bed and still try to get to sleep by 10 pm only to get up at 5 am the next day and do it all over.
I’m exhausted just typing it out. I honestly don’t know how working parents do it day in and day out. I respect the hell out of them.
Some companies are very family friendly, read: flexible. They allow for school visitations, work from home days, PTO, flexible hours, flexible spending plans for things like daycare expenses and so on. But as budgets grow tighter and tighter with companies, these benefits seem to be becoming less and less.
Don’t even get me started on the lack of company maternity policies that exist in the United States. That’s for another post.
My hat goes off to all you working parents. Know that when your kids are older and they understand the sacrifices you made and all your hard work, they will not only appreciate it but strive to be that amazing themselves as parents.