The other day my sister and I were having a conversation about working – more specifically we were talking about taking time off from work. I made the offhanded comment that I didn’t want to be that person … that parent … who made non parents ( or even older parents with grown children that were no longer as dependent upon them like my tiny babes are on me ) feel like my time off from work is more valuable than theirs. Her immediate response was, “Oh yes, please don’t be that person.”
That conversation made me really sit back and think. I honestly don’t ever want to be that parent. I’ve been on the opposite end of that situation, as a non parent, way too many times. And I’m here to say, as the mother of two babies, that MY need for time off from work is no more important than anyone else’s just because I have children. Maybe you’re reading this as a parent and are thinking it’s strange that I think this is even issue, because you are so not that parent that makes non parents feel less important. If so, go you. But MAYBE you are that parent. OR maybe you are that non parent whose priorities were pushed to the wayside in favor of a parent’s priorities for time off from work. Either way. What I have to say is for you. All of you. 😉
I didn’t have my first child until I was 28 years old. Prior to that I’d worked in management since I was 19 years old. So pretty much a solid ten years in management as a non parent. I’ve had to referee my employees who were parents and the ones who were not parents as they fought over days off. I’ve dealt with having to sacrifice my own desire to be off because a parent that I worked with played their parent card. One of the very first instances that comes to mind when I think about how parents are often prioritized when it comes to time off occurred when I was the assistant manager of a clothing store. I was in my early twenties. My store manager was probably around my age now. She had two small children. It was summertime and the Fourth of July was coming up. We were discussing who should get that holiday off. She said that she felt like she should get the holiday off. Not because she was the store manager. Not because she had worked some previous holiday while I was off. She said that she should get that holiday off, because of her children. Y’all. The Fourth of July? Yup. It had always been a holiday that was special between her and her children. They had faithfully attended the town’s local firework display the years prior. So. Because she was a mom. And I wasn’t. She said she should have that day off. Now, the Fourth of July is not a big deal to me. And I am super passive. So, I didn’t put up a fight. BUT that memory has always stuck with me. I find it to be a ridiculous reason. She didn’t even have to play the mom card. All she had to do was ask if I cared or had any 4th of July traditions, which I didn’t, and that would have been the end of the story.
Another holiday most often claimed by parents? (Mom’s specifically) : Mother’s Day. Ok. Maybe at this point…you’re thinking…hey now Ashley. That’s a legitimate holiday for a mom to stake her claim on. And yeah. You have a tiny point. However, guess what? Maybe your coworker isn’t a mom….BUT she has a mom of her own, who would probably love to spend that day with her daughter and vice versa.
Some other holidays that parents try to man handle their control over ( as far as time off is concerned ) ? Thanksgiving and Christmas. And – the same concept applies. Yes. You are a parent. You want to celebrate all your winter holiday traditions with your children…on the actual holiday days. You think, “these non parents I work with just don’t understand – they don’t need to be off as much as I do.” Wrong again. Those non parents. They have family too. They have special people in their lives that they want to see during the holidays. Stop infringing on their right to enjoy a holiday off.
What is my point?? Take your turn. If you have to work on Christmas Day… move your Christmas Day celebration to another day. Put this little sacrifice in your back pocket. And pull THAT out when you want a different day off. Not your parent card.
Bottom line…we chose to become parents. We have a choice not to become parents…every step of the way, from before to after conception. That’s the truth. You are not more important or more special just because you have children. Don’t use your kids as an excuse to get to the front of a line that you do not deserve to be at the front of. Wait your turn … just like everyone else.
I’m not saying emergencies don’t happen. They’ve happened to me. We have these little human beings that cannot take care of themselves. Sometimes, situations occur where childcare falls through – and you HAVE to leave work or take off work to look after them. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the blatant disregard for the value of a non parent’s time off or need to have time off in favor of a parent’s – simply because they are a parent.
Let’s not be that parent. Let’s be considerate of our co-workers. I’m an adult. If something happens and I can’t take off work (and I obviously have time to plan – talking NON emergency folks) to take care of my children when their typical childcare is not available to me – I’ll figure something out. I’ll make it work.
I’m not going to not show up to work, because I failed to plan ahead when I had plenty of opportunity to find alternate childcare. I’m not going to be late for work, because I just spent a sleepless night up with a sick kid and expect my non parent coworkers to just understand and forgive me and pick up my slack. I’m going to wise up and learn when to distinguish legitimate kid sicknesses or injuries that require me to actually leave work early vs something that can wait until I get off.
My kids are my responsibility. I do the best that I can to take care of them, be their mom, and still be me – and not let areas of my life, like work, suffer because I’m trying to be the best mom that I can be.
Ok, getting off my soap box now. 😉 Thanks again for listening….and maybe nodding your head in agreement? Or even rolling your eyes at me. It’s cool. You do you man. But…maybe when you aren’t all infuriated in the moment of your self righteous parenthood feelings of entitlement…you’ll be able to step back and see the value of my point. 😉