Took a bit of time off work last week to look after Wriggly while my partner did other stuff (mainly the local Plunket appeal). It was nice to spend extra time with him, although quite exhausting! I suppose if I had a three hour nap every day and slept 11 hours a night I might be that energetic too. Hmm, maybe not.
I'm not posting today to share that observation with you, but to fume a little about an encounter I had with two strangers on Wednesday afternoon when out with Wriggly.
We were having some lunch at a cafe in a major shopping centre (cannelloni for me, muffin for Wriggly) and my son was being his usual charming self and smiling engagingly at the two women eating at the next table. As usually happens when Wriggly ingratiates himself with strangers through his irrestible cuteness, I ended up talking to them a bit. I kind of wished I hadn't.
Somehow I told them I am employed full time and that I'd taken some time off that afternoon. They assumed Wriggly was in an early childhood centre, or rather in "daycare" stated with a rather negative tone. No, no, I said, my partner was primary caregiver, but I was keen to get Wriggly into a local centre part time soon for the education and social skills.
I was told firmly that mothers who do paid work full time "miss so much". Also: that it was unhealthy to put children in "daycare". Judgy much?
I don't want to go into the early childhood crap, because that's too close to my job, but I do want to write a bit about the missing stuff bit.
I've written a little about how I'm happily guilt-free, and I still am. People who say stuff like that to me, enforcing the guilt I'm supposed to have I guess, just piss me off. And incite me to write ranty blog posts about their judgyness.
No one ever says to my male colleagues who have young children and are in full time employment that they "miss so much", in that "you should really be at home" way. No one tells them their children must be upset when they leave in the morning, and wishing Daddy would stay home. No one expects them to take their child's birthday off (although one of the men I work with is taking a day this week to celebrate his daughter's 3rd natal anniversary). No one implies that spending the time they spend with their kids on the weekends, in the mornings, in the evenings and on public holidays is not enough.
I'm not advocating that fathers who do paid work full time should be under this pressure. There are plenty of men expected to work ridiculous hours as the breadwinner which severely undermine their ability to be active fathers, and that's not good either.
I'm just asking that women who happen to be mothers and happen to have young children and happen to be in paid employment that requires them to be away from their children for forty hours plus travel a week are held to the same standard as fathers who tick those boxes. A standard that isn't judgy, doesn't spout crap about how they are scarring their children, and actually supports people both as parents and as human beings with their own lives.