Thursday, March 10, 2011
Working Moms or Working Overtime Moms?
I am considered a Working Mom, because I have a job outside of the house to which I go everyday. This year I am technically part-time, but the way my schedule works, I am at work full-time, anyway. Though, to be honest, all moms are Working Moms, aren’t they? I was a Stay-At-Home Mom for two months this year, and I can tell you that I worked harder than I do most days at work!
I like to pride myself on the fact that I am a Working Mom, but still manage to spend a lot of time with my kids and do things like cook and (kind of) clean without getting TOO stressed. Yes, sometimes I bring work home with me and spend some time at night working. Sometimes I am VERY tired and get grumpy when I have to make lunches and snacks for the next day, or if the kids are tired and there is not enough time to make as healthy of a dinner as I’d like after getting home, but overall, it’s not too bad of a gig.
However, I just finished reading the book I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson, and realized that the term Working Mom does not necessarily describe every mother who works outside the home accurately. There are varying degrees of Working Moms.
I am a teacher, which is a very convenient job for someone who has children. It’s even more convenient if your husband is also a teacher, as mine is. In addition to this convenience, I live overseas, which allows for an even MORE convenient lifestyle. I have a nanny/housekeeper, so my youngest stays home all day while I am at work, so I don’t have the stress of dropping her off at daycare, or scrambling to find a solution when she is sick and cannot go to daycare. The nanny/housekeeper doesn’t have tons of time to clean the whole house while taking care of the baby, but she helps enough that my part in the cleaning is minimal.
I also have a schedule that allows me to be home by 4:30 most days, sometimes earlier. Often I opt to bring work home and do it at night after the kids have gone to bed in order to be home so early, but the point is that I have the option. My husband and I work at the same school, my older daughter goes to the same school, and next year my younger daughter will attend, as well. We live about 7 minutes away, so there is no 30-60 minute commute to work and back.
I get to take my daughter to school, pick her up and get to know her teacher, even though I am a Working Mom. I get to eat dinner with my kids and put them to bed every night, and I spend my entire weekend with them. Yes, sometimes I miss class meetings or parties that happen during the day, but for the most part, I am very involved.
I also get around 3-3 1/2 months of the year off to spend with my kids (please do not ever mention to me that teachers get TOO MUCH time off, though, because after spending months on end dealing with students day after day, we deserve that time! Plus, we’re not getting paid to do nothing, we average our pay over the year and take home less every month in order to pay ourselves over the summer. OK, there is my rant. Moving on.), so whenever a time comes when I feel like maybe my youngest is too attached to the nanny, or that I am getting to be too tired to parent properly, there is usually a break of time around the corner when I get to spend some free, relaxed, 24/7 quality time with my girls. Also, having the same school holidays means that I don’t have to figure out what to do with my kids when they are on break, we can travel as a family, and my husband is home to do his half of the parenting. Bonus!
I know that I am lucky. I realize it everyday.
I often forget that not every Working Mom has the same setup that I do. Most Working Moms have to pay half (or more) of their paychecks for daycare, have long commutes, and are lucky if they get home for bedtime. For a lot of Working Moms, summer break and other holiday times are a time of stress and worry, or expensive day camps/programs.
I consider these moms to be Working Overtime Moms, as they deserve extra respect for doing what they do. I know many people who believe that women who complain should just quit their jobs and “do without luxuries” in order to stay home with their kids. These people don’t realize that food, electricity and basic clothing are not luxuries and cannot be gone without. For some families, having both parents not work is simply not an option as it is for others. Plus in this economy, having two working parents is a safety net against having one parent lose their job, or not having savings in the bank in case of emergencies.
As a Working Mom, I am in awe of these Working Overtime Moms, whether they do it because they love their jobs, or because they have to work for their families to survive. I also understand why so many women choose to be Stay-At-Home Moms, if they have the financial ability to do so.
At the end of the day, though, we’re all just plain Moms, aren’t we? And we all need a little help now and then.