by Amy Campbell Smith
Over the years, I have missed work because of my children: illness and injury, pediatrician visits, in-service and bad weather days, spring and fall breaks, various parties and programs, and so on.
I have come in early and I’ve left the office late, but only by special arrangement with my husband can I alter my daily schedule by more than about half an hour. My son’s school frowns on parents dropping children off before someone is there to open the place up. They also close at some point and again, they hesitate to sit a kid out on the curb if Mom‘s not there yet. So I’m pretty well blocked in on both ends of my work day. At some point I just have to leave, no matter what I’m in the middle of right at that moment.
This has always made me wonder about working women who don’t have children, and whether they resent those of us who don’t stay late as often, or who miss more work because of child-related commitments.
The debate is an old one. If you have kids, do you get special treatment in that no one really expects you to be the one to stay late every time or have perfect attendance? Is the expectation different for women with no children? On the other hand, the women with no children can work longer hours if they choose and might appear to be more dedicated, and doesn’t this mean they are likely to get promoted faster and make more money? Are the women with children less dedicated to work?
The double-edged sword. Working moms are familiar with this in almost every aspect of life!
A colleague of mine, who is close to my age and single with no kids, was chatting with me one day when I mentioned having to leave a little early for some child-related issue. She told me how sympathetic she was to working moms because she once kept her niece for a week and she remembered the feeling of suddenly being blocked in. She experienced what it felt like to get up early and rush around getting a child to school before your work day started, and then to absolutely have to go at the end of the day regardless of what was happening in the office.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that she understood, and it was not lost on me that her experience, for one week 10 years ago, made such an impression. It’s not easy, and she said as much.
Have you encountered being resented for being a working mom, or ever felt resentful of other working moms, before you had children?