• Thu, May 31 2007

Withholding your status as a worker in a parenting place

A few days ago, there was a school event from 2 to 4 in the afternoon.

At the time, I was thinking, “How in the world are people who work supposed to do that?”

But, I chose not to say it out loud at school, because it’s not really worth it. I hold a position in a group there, and, it’s best for me not to moan and groan about school stuff.

Additionally, I made up my mind a while back that I simply wasn’t going to call attention to the fact that I work full time.

Heh, I am doing the opposite of hiding my status as a parent in the workplace, I’m “hiding” my status as a worker in a parenting place.

OK, so I’m not really hiding it, but, I am one of few mothers at school who work. My running joke is that, “me and the other lady who works are going out for drinks later”.

I have to be careful about it, but, I can get bent out of shape when people assume I can’t do school events because I work. I have a hard time putting the usual inflection in writing, but, it goes something like, “Oh. You worrrrk. Grreaaaat.”

The subtext to that is something like, “Isn’t that cute? Better you than me.”

Maybe it’s a Southern thing.

I’m not entirely sure why I feel the need to minimize it, but, it’s probably because when people bring it up, it’s usually irrelevant to the situation at hand, and, sometime, it’s just simpler for it not to come up.

Sure, there are times that I can’t participate at school because I have to work, but, I’ll be the judge of that. It’s one thing for me to think, “Wow, that’s a terrible time for people who work”, but, it’s another thing for people to say, “We didn’t call you for this because, well, you worrrrk.”

I’m proud of my job, and, it’s not like I can quit it, anyway (the spouse teacher salary thing, I’m going to be the little old lady working at Sam’s when I’m 90, “Try a cream puff? They’re in the case.”), but, as with many personal things, people often don’t want to hear you proclaim it from the rooftops constantly, it’s simply my reality.

So, there may be times I get annoyed at things like a 2-4 gathering that didn’t have to be from 2-4, but, I’m a parent like all the other parents.

If it takes me changing my clothes in the car after work before a school event so I look like everyone else, for my peers to remember it, then, so be it.

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  • http://www.svmoms.com Nicole/wksocmom

    I think this is the first post I’ve seen on this topic. It’s something I’ve only thought about in a more joking way – but I have a really hard time hiding anything about myself. I “came out of the closet” when I asked if anyone was interested in Saturday playdates and for suggestions for what to do with the kids during the summer. It was nice to hear from other working moms so I’m glad I did it.

  • http://tripleventi.com JayMonster

    This has been a bit of a sore point for me as well recently. But in my case, it is things that used to take place after school (such as school concerts, choir, etc) that are done during the day now because they can’t get teachers (I am not blaming the teachers necessarily, it could be the unions, the contracts, whatever it is, but still) to work in the evenings for these types of events.

    So, whereas my parent’s were always there when we had a concert, a play, etc. Now I am unable to attend these events because they are held in the afternoons.

    I wish I was one of those big wig types where I could just walk out or not go in to the office whenever I felt like so that I could attend these things, but I can’t… and it kills me.

  • http://shootthemoose.wordpress.com Slartibartfast

    When my kids were little, I used to get this attitude all the time (well, my wife got it more than me). There was a push toward parents of kindergarten & first grade student to come and have lunch with your child at least once a year. For working parents, this is very difficult.

    But as the kids got older, it’s mattered less. We’ve kind of formed a network, almost a clique, of parents, and we try to take care of one another. There are a lot of music business type parents at our school, and they keep strange (to me) hours, so they can usually come to the daytime stuff. Those of us who work early hours can come to the afternoon/evening stuff. Others can do the night stuff. We all take turns, and are there for the kids whose parents can’t make the event.

    This really helps with transportation issues (Catholic schools will have half-days at the oddest times!).

    BUT – the attitude you describe is still there; that’s why we’re not in the “in” crowd amongst parents. But, we don’t let it bother us anymore.

  • http://pendvasq-readingritingandrandomness.blogspot.com/ Florinda

    I really relate to this one. I’ve worked fulltime since my son was preschool age (he’s just out of college now, but I have 2 school-age stepkids – I have to miss an event for one of them today), and have marveled many times over the years over scheduling like this. Between the events scheduled during the school day and the ones that begin at 6 PM, when some of us are barely getting home, not to mention the extracurriculars and practices after school that we can’t get our kids to, there are some huge challenges. In addition to trying to get more flexibility in the workplace, it would be nice if there was some give on this side too.

    My sister’s a SAHM, and her older son attends a school that *requires* some pretty extensive parental involvement. While I applaud that in theory, I don’t think I could have a child attend that school, since I couldn’t make that kind of time commitment and keep my job too (unless i went insane).

    You mention being one of the few mothers at your school who works. I don’t know why I’m surprised about how true that still is in a lot of communities. Would more moms be working if the school’s schedules accommodated them better? Or are there really that many families who are OK on one (or one and a half, maybe) income while they have young children? Anyway, being a working parent by no means makes you less committed to your children, and their schools and activities.

    (I’m new around here, and enjoying your blogs – I read GenBetween too.)

  • http://flexibleworkforce.blogspot.com Amy

    I get a lot of this from stay-at-home moms when I ask them if they’d ever consider working outside the home. “I didn’t have kids so someone else could watch them.” etc. etc. It is important for us to remind our peers (and ourselves) that we are not bad parents because we work. Talking about our ability to work and be good parents is important to creating a networks of support at home and at work.

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  • Mgal

    One thing to think about is that its always going to be hard for at least one parent to get to these early “get together” things…unless your one of those lucky couples who are won the lottery and neither work.

    As a working single mom, who commutes over an hour each way, it is hard for me to get to everything. Being able to work from home from time to time helps, but i can’t cover everything. Makes me jealous of the stay home mom that lives next door sometimes :).

  • http://www.fixinsupper.com lcreekmo

    Here’s where this astounds me: the INCREDIBLE number of summer programs that are half-day. Or that run 9-4, no before- and after-care. Or 10-2. Whatever. There are some great programs my daughter will never attend. I mean, she’s not deprived in any way, but I find the situation annoying. And I am lucky enough to have an incredibly flexible job. But I do have to do my work, ya know??

  • http://www.blondemomblog.com Jamie

    I have a very flexible schedule (work 32 hours, half of which are from home), BUT I hear ya and we have yet to start “real school.” My oldest daughter’s spring soccer practice sessions were at 4 o’clock on Tuesdays. I had to take turns picking her up and taking her with my husband. My boss is extremely understanding, being a mom herself, but what floored me is that the coaches were a husband and wife team…I’m thinking, “What, NEITHER of them work?” Most people, unless they teach, work until 5 p.m. so 4 seemed really early for a weekly practice.

    Or maybe it’s just me.

  • http://www.queensonia2001.typepad.com sonia

    You’re damned if you do(work) damned if you don’t(work). I’ve done it all. Sahm, work full time, and part time. I do agree that schools cater to sahm’s without small children in the home (because our school doesn’t allow small children in the school. hah!). My daughter’s 8th grade promotion was at 10:00 am. Why couldn’t it have been that evening? Eh.

  • http://www.back2school2007.com Tim Sullivan

    Interesting take. Good message for a lot of parent group (PTO and PTA) leaders to keep in mind. Love the fact that you’re getting involved at school where you can. So important for your kids and the school.

    Tim Sullivan
    back2school2007.com

  • http://www.expectingexecutive.com Erin

    We work with moms…SAHMs, Part-time moms, Full-time moms & on hiatus mothers who want change but don’t want the hassle or have their name publically associated with a “side”. About restricted hours for some programs, we have found that most 10-2 or 12-4 programs are marketed to the SAHM as a “Mother’s Day Out” program. They are usually 1, 3 or 5 day per week programs and usually correspond with the school year and not available during the summers. We have also found that schools are willing to modify schedules when there is enough “gentle” pressing and negotiating. We have had some success in providing third party anonymous negotiation for parents. Too bad it has come to that but hey, if it works!?!?! http://blogspot.expectingexecutive.com

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