Outstanding in my Field.

by Elizabeth Horn

I'm outstanding. Really I am.


No, I've not had a sudden attack of narcissism, I'm the working mother among the parents at a small private school.


Most of the time, I'm incognito. I take the kids to school in the morning, and, save the occasional hair curler-do seen in line, everyone looks alike behind the wheel. No one is any the wiser that I'm suit clad instead of designer sweats-clad with a side of carefully styled pony tail attempting to look casual and sporty with the addition of a baseball cap.

But, when it comes to other school events, I take the risk of exposing myself if I'm the only mother in work clothes.

Though I've got nothing to hide, over the years I've learned that since the working mother is always spotted as the one wearing black, I need to be aware of my appearance in certain situations.

Why? The fact that I work comes up in conversation when it's actually irrelevant to the situation or topic at hand, and, sometimes, people even assume I can't do something or I don't know about something at school because I work.

I have a hard time putting the usual inflection in writing, but, it goes something like, "Oh. You worrrrk. Grreaaaat. I don't know how you do thaaaat. I could never do it." Or, "We didn't put you on the committee because, well, you worrrrk." The subtext to that is often something like, "Isn't that cute? Better you than me."


When I had young children in school, I was very sensitive to it, but, over the years, I've learned that people will just say what they're going to say, and, now it's usually no big deal to me.

Sure, there may be something I can't do at school because it's during the day, and, I may even think to myself, "That's an awful time for people who work", but, I'll be the judge of whether or not I can participate. On the flip side of that though, I take great care not to opt out of something undesirable by loudly proclaiming that, "I work!".

I've even been known to change out of my work clothes in the car if there's a meeting at school if it keeps someone from bringing it up unnecessarily. I'm proud of my job, don't get me wrong, but, there are certain time it's just simpler not to emphasize that I work when I'm around the kids' school in order for me to participate like the other parents.

But, if I don't have time to change clothes before the school event, me and the other lady who works can always go out for drinks later.


I'm with neverstop - I haven't got time to be bothered with people who will treat me different because I "worrrkkk." These are the same people who will hear that you work, and say they considered it, but, the kids "are only young once." (Translation: (judgementally) I've decided my kids are important enough to spend that "only once" time with them; you've decided to work instead.)


You know I actually couldn't tell you how many of the moms at my kids' school work. You know why? I'm too darn busy working and coparenting 2 kids with their dad. I couldn't care less what the others think of me. If they look at me like I have 4 heads it's cause they don't know what they're missing. Grown up conversation, responsibility for something in addition to homework and house work. I'm not saying that choosing to be a full time mom is bad, but if they are looking at you like you have the problem, I suggest they have the problem. Go forth...have the job...conquer...and let them look at you happy with their choice or not. Who cares? Be happy with what you have and let others learn deal with their own issues!


I have begun to figure out that a lot of moms at our school work but you can't tell by the clothes. That is excellent! But when you are the one dressed up it still feels really weird.

sarah f.

That was actually a consideration when we were looking at schools, since I knew that although I wasn't working when the first one started, I would be soon. Not just the quality of aftercare, but the culture of the school, and what is considered typical. For most of the kids in our school (yes, ours, Amy!), a mom who works is the norm. Very few have "dress-up" jobs, so it's hard to tell who works by the suit, but I think it's good for the kids to know that as a general rule, their friends' moms work, too!


That's totally how I felt when I used to work. I'd show up at my son's preschool class dressed for work and when I walked down the halls everyone would stare at me like I had 4 heads. Oh well, at least I was better dressed. right?


Amy Smith
I just wrote something like this on my blog - how awkward I feel being the one at the class party in a suit and heels and "sassy hair." (Small private school too!) One of the stay-home moms read the post and said the stay home moms are actually a little jealous! That's probably true, just like working moms sometimes think it might be better to stay home.