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I know I shouldn’t be this sensitive, but I have to admit feeling down when I see the words ‘full-time mother’ used to describe only those moms who stay at home with their kids. Truly I know I shouldn’t let it irk me because 99.9% of the time it’s not meant as a dig at us working moms, but rather as a way to describe the SAHM option in more a positive way. The fact is, though, that whenever I do see those words, I can’t help imagining the person on the other end up the computer looking at me and ticking off a little box next to the words ‘part-time mother’.
But today I want to say working mothers are not part-time mothers.
Working mothers are full-time mothers, just like working fathers are absolutely full-time fathers. How is that? Earning money is something working moms and dads do to care for our families. It is as much a part of feeding our children as cooking. It’s as much a part of dressing our children as shopping and mending. Working is just another step in the process of caring for a family, and for the vast majority of parents in the United States, it is an absolutely necessary part of parenting.
As much as I dislike my current employment situation because, yes, I would rather be home with my children, I am also grateful for it. My job is not some calm, blissful oasis of adult conversations and beer o’clock kid-free lunches – no kidding, I have heard people call working parenthood super fun and easy because OMG lunch (seriously what?) - but rather one of those stressful, but unavoidable elements of being a responsible mom. My job sucks but it helps keep my kids warm in winter and entertained in summer, for one. It gives us a chance to save and get out of debt and the possibility of sending her to a good school. It also gives us the chance to provide small, but enriching extras like gymnastics and swim class – even if we’re still budgeting to do it. Because yes, we’re budgeting. Ours is not some situation where if we’d just cut the cable I could quit my job.
In other words, working is something full-time mothers and full-time fathers do because they are parents, not because they’re a bunch of jerks looking for a profitable way to avoid spending time with their children for eight hours a day.
Sure, I suppose my husband and I could both quit our jobs so we could fit into someone else’s narrowly defined full-time father and full-time mother roles, but somehow I think not living in a van down by the river probably trumps the time we have to spend apart from our kids. Which is why I think that even suggesting that working parents are not full-time parents because they’re providing for their families is pretty darn mean.