A few months ago I wrote a post for another site about what I saw as the lack of consideration for my time because I am a mom. I believed that the assumption by the leader of an after school activity was that I had nothing else to do, nowhere to be, and so it was perfectly appropriate to regularly begin practice 10 minutes late and run practice 10 to 15 minutes over the scheduled end time. Certainly many of the moms stood around chatting before practice, making it difficult for the leaders to get the children’s attention and begin, and many moms stood around chatting at the end of practice, allowing their kids to run around and hang out. But there are also many moms who roll in there right on time, still dressed from work having just picked up their children at after-care, answering work emails on their iPads throughout practice. There is no visual indication, at least, that all of us are stay at home moms.
For better or for worse, I usually do not have that luxury of time. Many of my clients are on the west coast, and that means that I sometimes have calls scheduled at 5:30 while the kids are watching their afternoon television show. And honestly, even before I became a business owner, working from my home so that I can take a half an hour out of the middle of the day to take the kids to practices like this, I still had a schedule. Part of the decision for me to quit my job as a middle school English teacher included the fact that I would be able to have dinner on the table when my husband walked in at 6:00, and we could have a calm evening as a family. I’m sure that many of the moms in attendance also need to pick up children on time at other locations, get on with the tasks of their day. Prior to working, I still would have found it agitating if my family’s evening routine was thrown off because of someone else’s complete disregard for my time and lack of consideration.
This sense that moms are simply not as respected as dads and non-parents hit me again yesterday when I went to the orthodontist to meet with the doctor to discuss the plan of attack for my daughter’s braces. I had an 11:00 a.m. client call as well as a 12:30 conference call with a client’s team, but the only time that the orthodontist had for this type of appointment was 11:40. I worked hard to wrap my 11:00 call, get to the office by 11:40, and planned on chatting with the doctor for about 20 minutes giving me plenty of time to get home for my 12:30 call even if he was running just a bit late.
When 11:55 rolled around and I still hadn’t been taken back to meet with the doctor, I asked the receptionist if she knew how far behind he was in his schedule. Five minutes later they came to tell me that he would be another 10 or 15 minutes. At that point I had to reschedule and leave or I would miss my 12:30 call. I let them know that I had to get back to work, having only 45 minutes to be away from my desk. They apologized, but they also looked at me like I had three heads. Would that have been the reaction had my husband taken time over his lunch to meet with the doctor, both of them wearing their suits and ties? Did my pink fleece throw them off? My ponytail, perhaps?
It would seem that moms should be revered as magicians, somehow mentally keeping track of family finances, work to-do’s, kid social calendars, education and medical care. And yet I can’t shake the sense that moms are disrespected…