As a single, currently childless, woman, it bugs me that motherhood is a lifestyle choice that warrants special treatment in the workplace.
Child rearing is an important job.
I was a child once. I understand.
Had my mother not carefully watched over me, I would’ve been hit by a car or killed by an asthma attack or something. Once when I was seven years old, my mom, literally, snatched me from the path of an oncoming car. (My mama is so precious.)
Still, I’m annoyed when mothers get to dart out of the office early because they have to pick up kids from day care, take ‘em home and feed ‘em and stuff.
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, leaves work at 5:30 every day so that she can have dinner with her kids by 6:00 PM. While you may think it’s just swell that Sandberg leaves work “early,” her workday doesn’t end there. And I seriously doubt she would’ve climbed up the ranks of Facebook and Google if she put in a standard 40-hour workweek.
At this point, you’re asking, “If Sheryl spends her mornings and evenings working, why do you care where she does her job?”
I don’t care. That’s the short answer.
Many career moms fire up their laptops when they get home. They’re as committed to their employers as they are to their kids. Whether or not that’s a noble trait is up to the mother in question to decide.
All I’m calling for is equal treatment.
Those who’ve opted against parenthood get to slave away under the woefully unflattering fluorescent light bulbs in a monochrome cubicle while women with children jet off to the comforts of their couch to finish up their work.
My apartment may not be overrun with kids, but when the night falls I wanna get my black a– out of the office.
I wanna meet up with friends for dinner.
I wanna attend a group exercise class at my gym.
I wanna get physical with my partner before my eyelids feel like they’ve been sprayed with hot sauce.
Am I asking for too much?
When I worked for an international accounting firm, I remember they bragged about the flexible working arrangements available to mothers. What? You think working moms are the only employees who crave flexibility?
I would’ve loved to work a reduced work schedule. But I didn’t ask for fear that my superiors would think I wasn’t serious about my career. (That and I didn’t want to take a pay cut.)
How many other professionals are afraid to ask? And if they did ask for a reduced workload in exchange for reduced pay, would their desires to pursue non-work related passions be trivialized by decision makers? After all, being a parent is the most important job in the world. Or so I’ve heard.
While writing this blog post, I was reminded of an episode of Sex and the City.
You remember the one when Carrie’s expensive shoes were stolen at a friend’s baby shower. The next day Carrie returns to see if her shoes turned up. Carrie’s friend offers to pay for the shoes. And then…she learns how much they cost.
Friend: So, um, how much were they?
Carrie: Uh, four hundred and eighty-five.
Friend: Come on, Carrie. That’s insane.
Carrie: Well, that’s what they cost.
Friend: I’ll give you $200.
Carrie: Okay, this is an awkward conversation.
Friend: I’m sorry. I just think that’s crazy to spend that much on shoes.
Carrie: You know how much Manolos are. You used to wear Manolos.
Friend: Well sure, before I had a real life. But Chuck and I have responsibilities now: kids, houses…Four hundred and eighty-five. Like, wow.
Carrie: I have a real life.
Stop right there!
Male or female, mom or dad, young or old, we all have real lives.
Whether you got kids or don’t got kids, you’ve made a choice. Our lives are a product of our choices. They are ALL valuable.
Now, let’s hear it for the boys.
How many companies offer the benefit of a 6-week pa-ternity leave?
What would happen if a woman decided she wanted to head back to work one week after having a baby while her child’s father stayed home to care for their newborn? Would the dad even be entitled to six weeks of paid leave? If not, why not?
I don’t want to deny moms flexible working arrangements or maternity leave. None of that. I’m simply asking for fairness. If we trust and accept that a mother can leave the office at 5:30, spend time with her kids, and dutifully finish her work during the in-between times, then why wouldn’t non-mothers do the same?
When I worked in a corporate job, I wondered if a non-traditional working arrangement was even an option for me. Strangely, having a baby would’ve probably given me more room to negotiate.
When you make concessions for one group to enjoy the choices they’ve made, it tells the other group their choices are less important. And that’s simply not true.
Let’s be respectful of each others’ choices.
What do you think?