Last Sunday I hopped on a flight out of Toronto to LA for a pediatric sleep conference I was attending. The conference was 3 days long and I decided to stay 1 extra day to get some ‘me-time’ in there. And girl – I was FEELING IT. I couldn’t wait to step on the plane and have a little time for myself. As many of you who follow me (@babysbestsleep) will know, my husband owns his own company. He works in mining, and as a result, he flies all over the world to various strange and remote locations often and he’s often gone for 2 weeks at a time. He gets these alone moments often, and I was excited to just sit on a plane by myself.
However, there is one thing that differentiates my husband and I’s traveling experience: when my husband meets a new person and gets on a plane or enters a workplace not once has anyone asked him “Who’s watching your children right now?” when they find out he’s a dad.
This, on the other case, has happened to me a lot.
Like–a lot, a lot.
Like when I went back to work after only 4 months of maternity leave with my first child. I had literally landed my DREAM teaching job and the decision to go back to work with a small baby was tough. But, I didn’t have a job to go back to post mat leave, and the workings conditions were ideal (I literally could not have worked at a more supportive environment than I did–truly). We hired a nanny, we made it work, my kid slept (obviously) and it was a great year! It really was. To this day, I do not regret for a second going back to work.
The first month I was back at work 8/10 people who found out that I was back asked me ‘who’s with your baby right now? Who is watching her?’ like they couldn’t understand or imagine where a baby would be if her mother wasn’t there. It was a well-meaning and innocent question but when you’re asked the question over, and over, and over again you begin to wonder if the question is a thinly veiled statement “you should be with your baby right now”. Thankfully, once my daughter was a year old, it was socially acceptable for me to me at work again, and the questions stopped.
I was hit was a whomp of deja vu, sitting on the plane on the way over. A lovely woman asked me what I was doing (a pediatric sleep conference), which led to the question if I had children of my own (I do–two of them 5 and 3), and then finally the judgment call “Wow, those are small kids! Who’s with them right now?!”
What. The. Fuck.
THEIR FATHER. THE OTHER HUMAN I LIVE WITH WHO IS A GROWN UP. The PARENT that didn’t just donate sperm. How insulting is this question–to me, and more so to my perfectly capable, and GOOD husband! He cares for our children as I care for my children. He goes away bi-weekly and literally not ONE PERSON HAS ASKED HIM WHO IS WITH HIS CHILDREN. Why? Because they know who–and that’s visual feels comfortable and ok–so we don’t ask any follow-up questions. When my husband went back to work when I was two-weeks post-partum, not one person questioned my husband’s role as a father. Whether or not he was a good person or capable of his parenting duties. And I find this a little fucked up.
I work with a lot of moms dealing who need to go back to work early for various reasons (some of which are ‘I’m not enjoying mat leave and I’m a better mom when I work”–and this is ok reason to work!) and the guilt and shame we feel about doing so is REAL. I’m still surprised that in 2019 with all of our choice, advancements, and progressions, we’re still asking other moms ‘who’s with your children right now?’ and more often than not, this question comes from other moms.
A small reminder that we’re all doing this parenting thing a little differently. Give your friend a high-fucking-five when she tells you she’s taking a weekend trip with her girls, or going back to work early or checking herself into a hotel for the night to get a little sleep. If you don’t like it, that’s ok–write in your journal about it–but don’t mom-shame another mom because she’s not making your choices. And you know, if we do this enough, world domination is next 😉
Happy mother fucking Mothers day!
Amanda- MomsTO Leadership Team!