Last week, I met a perfectly nice stay-at-home mom. We were chatting about our kids' upcoming school events, and when I told her I couldn't make a few of the umpteen upcoming events/presentations/meetings this month, her response gave me pause for a nanosec:
"Aww..." she tsked, lips pursed. "You really have to miss all that?"
Mind you, this seemingly innocuous comment wasn't delivered in a tone that was sympathetic -- it was disapproving. And in response, my knee-jerk internal dialogue went a little something like, "Yes, B&*CH. I really do."
Fortunately, what came out was only the second part of the sentence -- the "I really do" part.
Now that I've simmered down a tad, I'm sure this offhand comment wasn't meant as a direct dig at me as a working mom. I like to think the best of people, and thus I'd like to think she was making a genuine declaration of empathy for my plight, having only the purest intent to commiserate with my own inherent disappointment.
But as a mom who needs to occasionally forego school events to earn a living, I've found that comments like this CAN rub me the wrong way. Why? Because it sounds like I actually have a choice to either work or spend time with my kids. She might ... but I don't. It kills me that I can't often take my kids on daylong sojourns to go play on grass, frolic on the beach or putter around the city, instead of cowering to the demands of our unpaid bills.
We working moms do the best we can to be there for our kids as much as we can, but we're also charged with paying those bills and putting food on the table. If those basic necessities weren't in place, missing yet another 9 o'clock "parents-as-math-partners" session would be the least of my problems.
It's bad enough that I wilt daily under an abundance of guilt at having to miss the occasional school outing/concert/volunteer event. To remind me of it as if there's something I can do to change it really s*cks.
Both working and stay-at-home moms face their own unique challenges. So in the interests of promoting peace between the camps, I'd like to encourage both sides to take just a second to think about how a comment might sound to the commentee BEFORE it escapes your lips.
Any of you guys ever hear an offhand comment that made you feel like s*it for having to work? Or for having to stay at home?