About 4 and a half years ago, I added “mom” to my Life Resume, and because I’m super smart, I also started my own business around the same time. Yes, my human child and work child are both toddlers. Fortunately, they are both potty trained.
Navigating through the working world with a child is pretty interesting, especially if you work with the public. For a while I had Snowflake Syndrome (thinking the problems I was dealing with are unique to me and me alone), but now, whenever I see another working parent we can engage in a great moment of sharing war stories. As any parent can tell you, raising kids is TOUGH, but all the best war stories seem to come from talking to either non-parents, people that are so removed from parenthood they seem to have forgotten what it’s like OR the parents that treat it like a religion. Below is a small compilation of the most commonly said things that make me, and a lot of other working parents, want to scream like our toddlers.
1) Who Watches Your Son When You Work?
Usually this is asked after a few other nosy questions about how many hours a week you work, marital status, how much money you make, etc. Only the fear of being taken seriously has kept me from responding with “Wait, I’m supposed to have someone watching him?!?!” It doesn’t matter what you say in answer, you will get a condescending “Oh..” and if you’re really lucky some advice on changes you can make to your schedule to never have to leave your child with another human being until they reach college.
2) How Do You Do it?
This one can mean one of two things:
The first coming from a Sanctimonious Parent, who either un-schools their 136 month old, brandishing kale smoothies and an all vegan lifestyle and/or believes there is no point in being a woman if you aren’t raising a litter of children and keeping house. It is meant as a passive aggressive attack on your parenting style, and on the fact that you indeed have a life away from your child(ren) and work outside the home. It usually comes from a sweet sounding woman with eyes opened wide enough to make you question if she’s being serious, or seriously condescending.
The second usually comes from a non-parent. Again, there’s wide eyes but this time in amazement. They can’t even start to wrap their minds around what it means to be a parent, AND have a full time job as well. This is not meant to be insulting and can actually be good for the ego, but usually also means that this person will never ask you to do anything with them again, since your plate is so full already. My coffee addiction aside, how I make things work is simple: I make time for what matters in my life. Just like everyone else.
Parenting is a unique experience, and all snarkiness aside, we all have to figure out what works for us. I mean no serious disrespect to the Granola Mommas or The Traditionals, just like I’m sure not all of them mean disrespect when sharing their opinions. Being a parent means we have created these little persons and it is our sole responsibility to make sure they turn out as well balanced and awesome as possible. For me, I toyed with the idea of being a SAHM, but I started going stir crazy. I like working outside of the home. I love the work I do, I’m passionate about it, and I want my son to grow up feeling free to pursue his passions, whatever they end up being. Also, I should point out that as a single mom, it would be financially irresponsible for me to not work. If your passion lays in the home, I applaud you and your passions, as every single one of us has a responsibility to do what’s best for our own individual family situations.