The curse of the working parent
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My Grade 2 son is sick today.
Nothing serious, just a streaming cold and a very,very, very, very, very, very sore throat (his words) that mean he can’t go to school today. He was home yesterday too.
For him, it means he gets to hang around the house, playing XBox games and entering competitons on a kiddies television website (we are shortly going to have both a Nintendo DS and an iPod delivered to the door because he has entered 13 times - “13 times, Mommy!!!”).
For his parents, however, this has meant much tense negotation and juggling of the spaces where the self-employed and the corporate worlds do and no not have some give in them.
We’ve made a plan, but creeping dread is upon me: my work schedule tomorrow has no give in it at all, and what if he is still too damp to go to school? At this point, we have no idea what we will do about that. Probably I will push down the guilt and worry and agree with my husband that we should send him to school anyway. And try to silence that voice in my head that demands to know what I would do if I was a stay-at-home mom.
Which leads me to think about a column we carried on the Lifestyle site this last weekend, by the Daily Mail’s Sandra Parsons, who is amazed that women complain about the problems of having it all. She reckons we should all just keep our mouths shut and get on with it.
“...Let’s not kid ourselves that women’s lives really are worse now than they were in the Seventies. It’s simply not true,” she writes.
“We’re no longer dependent on men for a roof over our heads, our income or our identity. We’re well-educated - and if we want a career there’s nothing to stop us.
“Equally, if we don’t want a career but would rather be homemakers and full-time mothers, there’s no reason not to do that, either.”
Of course, she doesn’t mention all the women in the developing world for whom the choices she takes for granted are but a distant dream.
But for those of us who to have those choices, my question is what price(s) are we paying? What prices are all the people who support us paying?
I get particularly irritated with women’s magazines who interview high-flying women with children who always pay tribute to their support network - and the ins and outs of that support network and who does what when are never interrogated. Is there a domestic worker taking a taxi home at night because Mommy had to work late? Is there a yawning granny in front of the television because of that date night that is required to keep a marriage alive? Is there a child being sent to school sick because the support network ran out?
We are never served well by lying to each other about our parenting issues - so use our comment form below to tell us how childcare and work really play out for you... and I mean this: tell the truth!