The double standard that exists; and why we need to applaud everyone raising a tiny human being, moms and dads alike.
Recently my daughter asked me, “why do you have to go to work?” This was on the heels of a series of questions about my job and why I can’t pick her up from school like “all the other mommies.”
I can assure you she has never asked her father why he has to go to work. I can also assure you she has never asked her father why he wasn’t at her book fair or why he doesn’t pick her up from school.
In our house, both parents work full-time. We both share in child-rearing stuff. So why does my daughter- who only knows the dynamics of what she lives- question me and not her father?
This double standard is so much bigger than just her perspective.
Recently, my husband was with both of my kids on a Saturday. (Not that it actually matters, but I was at a seminar for work). Within an hour of being alone with them, someone said to him, “wow, you’re like a single parent.” Aside from the fact that this is offensive to single parents, I can tell you that of all the times I’ve been with both of my children, without my husband, no one has ever commented about my husband’s absence or my “single parenting.” Because I’m a mom, and that’s what moms do.
A friend of mine recently told me that while she was home for three months on maternity leave, she would walk her toddler to and from school with her newborn in tow. Upon her return to work, her husband took his paternity leave. He’s now doing the same walk to and from school with the toddler and the newborn. She told me that nearly every day, without fail, her husband is stopped on the street to get a thumbs up, a “great job, dad,” or an approving smile to tell him hey, you’re doing great. She assures me that not once in her three months of the same exact walk did anyone stop to tell her she was doing great. Because she’s a mom, and that’s what moms do.
Another friend told me that when she was planning a trip she had to take for work, some friends questioned whether she had asked her husband if it was okay if she took the trip. It’s for her job. Her job that helps pay the bills. Her job that is just as important as his job, for which he travels nearly every month. Of course he was okay with it.
Recently, I went away with some girlfriends for a long weekend. It was amazing- gave me some time to reflect, relax, and find some mental peace. The joy was so short lived. I came home to so many comments like, “wow, I can’t believe your husband will stay home with the kids for a weekend.” My knee jerk reaction was to defend myself, explaining that my husband also goes on golf trips and fishing trips and boys’ weekends (and I am positive no one comments about my “willingness” to stay home with the kids for a weekend). But the reality is that I should not have to justify myself.
Why do we keep telling moms that it’s admirable to be an equal in the work place, but then we question whether they should be permitted to go on business trips? Why do we tell moms to practice “self care,” and encourage moms to do things for themselves, if we’re only going to criticize them or make passive comments about them doing so? Why is it so widely accepted that dads have hobbies and work obligations that take them away from the family, but the minute a mom does the same, we’re so quick to comment?
Listen, Dads (and spouses and partners) all deserve their praises. Anyone who is raising a tiny human deserves all the positive reinforcement we can give out. But that includes moms. Moms are SO deserving of the approving smile on the street or the thumbs up while trying to corral two little people on the walk to school. Moms deserve to attend their work obligations without an added layer of guilt, and they deserve to be seen when they’re just doing their best to get through the day.
In setting this example for my daughter- that it’s okay for moms to work and for moms to take a minute to themselves, I’m trying to change the tune, one small voice at a time.