Whenever people start talking about working moms, you know the subject of sharing the workload at home will come up. As in…”I work all day, and somehow the laundry is still my job?” Despite the progress we’ve made towards gender equality at work, stats still show that women in a two-career couple shoulder the bulk of the household and childcare chores.
But just when it seems like we’re not making any progress on the home front, a story comes along that gives us all a glimmer of hope. A story of real, honest-to-goodness, two parent partnership!
I am told I travel a lot for work. I travel every other week, usually for a couple of days- maybe this is a lot, I am not sure. Either way, I’d venture to say that’s more than the average working mom. Working mother travel is predictable in the sense that at some point, either before, during or after my trip I can always plan on someone asking:
“So who is watching your kids when you are away?”
The question comes from women. It comes from men. It comes from peers. It comes from fellow working mothers. I am no longer surprised by this question, in fact, I expect it. When I answer, simply saying the kids are home with their dad, I see the look in their eyes. It is disbelief, it is surprise, it is pity, all of the above.
Every. Single. Time.
What is unfortunate about these reactions are that so many people still assume that just because I am the mother (and I am traveling) that I must be leaving my kids with my mother, or mother-in-law, or sister, or some other very capable female. Not usually considered is the possibility that my husband is not only running the show, but in a very competent way. This is truly disappointing.
The real success of my working mother life has always been about partnership. For our family, we have always “made working work” by depending upon one another and thinking about our work and parent commitments as equally important- to each other.
For example, on the mornings I travel, it is not uncommon for my departure to occur before anyone is even out of bed. This means my husband Scott has to ready our three kids, drop them at daycare and school, and still get to his job on time (which is early).
The real success of my
working mother life has
always been about partnership.
Additionally, in the evenings when I am away, he has to manage multiple pickups, volleyball practices, prepare dinner, take care of homework responsibilities, and prepare everyone for the next day. By anyone’s standards, male or female, this is a ton of work!
Our partnership works because I reciprocate by taking on the majority of drop offs, pickups, practices, and play dates on days when I am working from home. Very truthfully, if Scott and I had more of a traditional marriage, whereby the majority of household AND parenting responsibilities fell upon only me, the professional roles I have enjoyed in the past and today simply would not be possible. Both my career options and development of those options would have been limited. Because I have this true partner in life whom has been helping along the way, my career has grown and blossomed. I have a true partner and because of that, I am a much happier individual.
Working mothers…ask yourself: Do you have a real partner? If the answer is anything other than “yes”- what are you going to do about it?
Jennifer Barbin is the Co-Founder of Proud Working Mom. A site dedicated to supporting other working mothers. It’s not just a website, it’s a movement! This was an excerpt from her new book Guilt Be Gone, now available on Amazon or on Proudworkingmom.com.