Why are Moms Disrespected?

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?

Being a mother is the biggest blessing of my life.  Having to juggle all of the roles of a mother is also the biggest challenge of my life, sometimes tearing away at my emotions.  

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…

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  • I wholeheartedly agree! I am lucky that I get the benefit of working with a company that allows me to schedule part of my hours at home but it seems that our company owner doesn’t understand that my time is valuable as are my weekends and I’m not sure if it’s because I partially telecommute or if it’s because I’m a mom or my job title. He seems to believe that I can just pick up and come in to the office at any time and be on call 24/7. It’s annoying and disrespectful to me and my family.

    On the other hand, I’ve always told people that I’m a mom first and that family comes first (part of why it took me so long to take on a job that required me to be away from home) and while I realize that time is money for companies – but if I need to be somewhere for my kids, then I do whatever necessary to make that happen. Sometimes companies and money have to wait.

  • How many times can I say Amen? One more time! AMEN! Oh my gosh this is so true. You know what also kills me? That moms are disprespected by OTHER MOMS too! You would think that since we know how it feels to be a mom, we’d respect each other. But moms will crticize a mother for her unclean home, her getting kids to practice late, her feeding her kids “non-organic or processed” foods. But if a dad takes a family to McDs it is funny and understandable. WTF

  • I don’t know — all of my kids activities have always started late and ended late (chorus, football, basketball, cross country, etc) and honestly it doesn’t matter which of us (my husband or myself) takes the kids to an appointment … doctors and dentists never call you back when you’re scheduled. We pretty much always have to allow 2 hours for an appointment with the pediatrician including driving time to get there/back – even longer with the dentist or with Talia’s neurologist. It doesn’t always take that long, of course, but it often does… we rarely wait less than 30 minutes past our appointment time. It’s just the way those types of offices work, unfortunately. As annoying as it is to have people waste time that you don’t have, I don’t really think either of those things have much to do with consideration or respect for moms verses dads, but more to do with the typical swing of things. My husband has always had to wait just as much as I do when he goes. I would suggest perhaps when you reschedule, make sure they know you are ONLY going for a consultation and would like a meeting time when the doctor won’t be busy with other patients, such as when they first open or are about to close up.

    • Maybe the moral of the story is that people are inconsiderate in general? Not a great realization, but could be spot on.

      • LOL Now that very well may be the case 😉 And I’m definitely not trying to say that women/moms are never respected less or considered less than men/dads. I just think specifically in those two circumstances, everyone has the same experiences (re: doctor’s offices and after school activities). Now, if we switch the focus to business (particularly work at home moms verses men who have “home offices” and even if they ARE ‘work at home dads’ people don’t typically view them that way), or as Annie said — how people judge mothers verses fathers in respect to food choices, habits, etc… then we’d definitely have a conversation.

        And let me say that I will definitely agree with you and everyone who has commented saying that people do not really consider us to have actual JOBS or SCHEDULES since we don’t “go” to work everyday… when in actuality, we are much more under the gun on deadlines (at least that has been my experience compared to when I worked in an office setting) and usually have distractions throughout the day others don’t have so we have to work harder and be MORE disciplined to keep up with everything we have to do. Most of us are also seriously limited in our personnel resources and do all of the work on our own unless we hire an assistant to delegate tasks to, which the majority can’t do without killing their profit in overhead.

  • Oh my – yes indeed. I work at home – I drop my kids off at daycare in the morning, come home, work for however many hours I can/need to, then I pick my children up. Every day. I drop them off and pick them up wearing jeans, a fleece, ponytail and no makeup most days, because I also get them ready alone each day (husband has to leave early to catch the train). I get many looks when I say “I’m running late,” mainly from other parents all dressed up for their office jobs. Um, yes, I work. I have a LOT of work to do. I just get to do it in my jeans. I hate that they see someone dressed down and assume just what you said – I have no schedule to keep, I have nothing important to do. While some days I am flexible, many weeks I am loaded with deadlines and frantic to get it all done, usually working from 8:30pm-midnight after the kids are asleep to keep up. Thanks for this post – it’s so crazy true.

  • It’s easy to take those slights personally, as if there is something about YOU that makes people feel like they can take advantage of you, but I think, as you suspected in your comment to Kat, that people are generally inconsiderate of everyone but themselves. In the case of your orthodontist, I don’t think it would have made a tiny bit of difference if a father took the meeting in a suit and tie because medical professionals seem to disregard patients’ schedules across the board. Doesn’t matter who you are.

    The best you can do is do your own best, be considerate, and train your children to do the same. Smart, kind people should breed more.

    • “Smart, kind people should breed more.” This may be the best comment I have every received.

  • I think people disrespect each other’s time in general. I’ve had this done to me when I’m doing things for the kids during the day and when I’m doing non-mom things as well. Plus I don’t think people that are in the down and dirty business of being a mom aware of how little spare time we have whether we be SAHM, WAHM, or WOHM. My schedule is very tight. When the time arrives that the we were scheduled to leave, we leave.

  • I think the doctor part happens to EVERYONE. It’s just part of life.

    • Not if we stand up to them! (says the daughter and sister of two doctors)

  • I think that in general, people have just become more inconsiderate of other people’s time. While I don’t doubt there are other issues and instances where moms likely get different treatment than dads, it seem that in regards to time, it doesn’t matter much if it’s dad or mom. Schools and kids activities in particular seem to be among the biggest offenders followed by doctor’s/health providers. It’s definitely a harder balance for those of us who run our own business and need to deal with a variety of others throughout the day and then to also fit in appointments for our children. Thanks for putting this out there!

  • This is a big generalization to make, but I have never found a doctor/dentist/medical professional who respected an appointment time and my time. I know they get behind and blah blah, but it irks me to wait up to an hour for my scheduled appointment like my time is not valuable, yet I get threatened with a $50 rescheduling fee if I don’t reschedule within 48 hours. Sorry for the crazy look you got – and good for you for sticking to your responsibilities!

  • Terri K (@tkharmonic)

    I think health care professionals are generally gender-neutral about wait times, however, I think women who work in offices expect other women to understand and be polite but they expect men to have attitude and want to be catered to.

    None of that is right, the wait times or the expectations placed upon different genders, but I think it’s true.

    • Yes, you are exactly right, I should have pointed out that it was the woman working at the front desk who was dismissive and surprised that I couldn’t wait. I also had to stand there for 5 minutes while she finished a personal call before she could answer my question. So there you go. LOL

  • Janet

    I enjoyed your writeup, Amy. I try really hard to ignore sexual/racial/ageism biases, but I’d be lying if I said that kind of stuff didn’t exist. I’ve learned to listen to my instincts. If something is telling me a situation is a certain way, there are two choices that I can make: (1) voice my concern and see if I’m off-base, or (2) ignore things and move on. The older I get, the better I am getting at picking my battles. Some fights I simply can’t win, while others I can if I calmly approach the subject and treat it as a learning experience. Sheesh, I’m starting to sound like my parents here, LOL! And now to completely change the subject, the photo that you used in your post caught my attention. I recognized the sweater on the little girl right away. My daughter had that sweater when she was little: http://www.flickr.com/photos/janettwokay/3713632375/in/set-72157621223457753 So, not only do I pay attention to your words, I pay attention to your graphics too. 😉

  • Having been on both sides of the working in an office and working from home fence, like many moms, I must say I felt more respect in many situations based upon how I was dressed than the fact that I was a mom. I’ve heard the arguments that if you ‘dress the part’ while working from home you can present yourself in a much more professional manner thus garnering a different level of respect and productivity. To that I say, hogwash, at least for me. I can be just as productive and professional online or over the phone in my fuzzy slippers and yoga pants and comfy shirt as I can in business attire. For outside meetings, I dress the part. Sadly, the office staff at the doctor’s office may have looked at you differently if you were suited up, but I say that’s their problem, not ours. For doctors in general, if I’m on a tight schedule, I try to schedule either the first appointment of the day or the first one past lunch and I call in advance to see how they’re running. Of course, as someone else stated, they don’t hesitate to charge us a fee for being five minutes late. We must work collectively to change the perceptions that work from home parents have much more time in general than those who work outside of the home. It is bunk.

  • I agree with other commenters – this is hardly a silo’d problem. People in general are not respectful of other people’s time (or space, or schedules, or feelings, or or or). But going forward, you can be in control. I was going to an appt. every few weeks and each time I was kept waiting. I complained about it every time, until one day I’d had it and stopped using that person. In my world where I work out of the home full-time, each moment that someone else is late is a moment more that I’m stolen from my kids and I wasn’t having it. So long story short – try to weed ou those folks that aren’t thinking of your time and replace them with others who do show more respect.

  • Alright, I’m wondering if we are related! I can’t tell you how many times I have sat and wondered the very same things. I have found that in general moms are not taken as seriously. Our time isn’t as “valuable” to others. I often wonder if shows like the housewives of “fill in the blank” reality shows have caused more people to think we all have nannies and our only obligation is to work out and get a manicure. What I find ironic about many of the situations is that if I was 15 minutes late I would be charged for the appointment and passed along. I would loose my appointment. I’ve contemplated many times asking the doctor if I can receive a free visit since he was 15 minutes late or more to my appointment. But I didn’t.
    But I can tell you that you aren’t alone in how you feel, your frustration, and in general I feel that society really has lost respect for stay at home moms. That was shown just recently in the news with comments made by Hilary Rosen. I don’t get it. But despite the disrespect and snarky comments from others about my “career choice” to stay at home, I’m quite happy with the decision and so are my kids!

    • I thought my head was going to explode when I heard Hilary Rosen’s comments. I am not political and think the Mommy Wars are overrated, but her comment – aside from politics and polarization of women – were exactly what you’re saying – another indication of moms in general not getting the respect they deserve. I believe fully that Ann Romney has worked more than a full time job as the mother of five children and the wife of a very powerful man and probably has an incredibly diverse and extensive skill set that would put many working, non-parents’ to shame. It’s time for some real change.

  • […] Why are Moms Disrespected? @ResourcefulMom […]

  • In glancing through the comments, I noticed a theme of people being disrespected in general. As a non-mom, I sometimes feel like people with kids get their requests for days off accepted faster and more often than I do. But, I had to let go of that because it doesn’t serve me to think that way.

    Instead, I’ve been thinking and blogging about the subject of respect. Sadly, respect seems to have gone missing in many situations between people. Something as simple as starting and ending on time should be what everyone agrees on. Everyone has somewhere else to be next. Even if it’s on the couch, relaxing.

    And yes, I’m in awe of women with multiple children and multiple accomplishments. You have my respect.