Prolonging The SAHM/WOHM Battle

I am really lucky. The school where Declan goes is diverse. Not just by ethnicity, but by economics, and by style. Some moms stay home, some dads stay home. Some moms work out of the home, some dads work, etc – and every combination thereof.

And we support each other. When I forgot to pack a lunch for Declan’s field trip, I knew which SAHM mom to call. When Bryan was stuck in traffic, he knew just which dad was arriving at school from work at that exact moment and could grab Declan for us till we got there.

It really does take a village and it’s nice how everyone understands that around here.

Which is also why I get MORE pissed off when someone upsets the balance.

A friend, a working mom friend, a working mom friend whose company is laying off left and right and has to work crazy hours to make sure she keeps her job yet still finds time to work on school fundraisers at night… yeah, her… she had a teacher pat her knee recently and condescendingly wonder when she might be able to come in the classroom and volunteer? Or, um, would there be any time this year that she could bother to attend a field trip?

When, exactly? Yeah. Maybe she could come to school for a few hours and then stay even later at the office and never have one-on-one time with her kids? Or maybe she should just stop working on the massive fundraiser that provides a gigantic chunk of change for the school, directly supporting teacher salaries?

The funny thing is, this new tension was not created in the normal way. That battle lines between stay at home and work out of the home moms was drawn so line ago that we, at least at Declan’s school, have forgotten what we were fighting about. We recognize the flexibility of different schedules, different lives, and how we can all help each other – with our different specialties. Stay at home moms can come to field trips, or visit businesses during the day and get them on board with sponsorships. Working moms can use business connections to get publicity for an event, or maybe work through lunch making calls for a school function. Whatever.

Why does this have to keep coming back around and making people feel bad? Because my friend felt BAD. She started talking about rearranging her schedule and ticking off what else she could be doing for the school and her kids. I wanted to get all Susan Powter in her face: STOP THE MADNESS.

We all try hard. We all do our best. Don’t feel bad. Just keep on keeping on.

This article has 27 comments

  1. Megan


  2. barb

    I could NOT agree more. As a mom whose been a SAHM, a part time WAHM, a part time WOHM, and a full time working mom (now), I’ve seen all sides and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. The bottom line is that we are all doing what works best for our families and our own personal situations.

    The problem comes in, IMO, when you get other moms (or in this case, teachers or other people) who turn their own insecurities into a personal pissing contest with those who make different choices. I’ve been dealing with these people for years, and I’m over it.

  3. Meghann

    Guilt-it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

    Even as a stay at home mom, when my kids were still in public school I couldn’t do a lot of stuff, because they had a strict policy that didn’t allow younger siblings at the different functions, which kind of screwed me over.

    Moms pile enough guilt on themselves, they don’t need other people adding to it.

  4. Kelly

    I agree with Barb. It is all about personal insecurities.

  5. Marge

    These battle lines are big and bold at the school my son is just graduating from. I’m a full-time career woman and for the last 5 years I’ve worked more than my share of volunteer time, just in the quieter, less-visible ways. I’ve gotten a lot of condescending attitude from the moms and staff who don’t seem to appreciate how hard it is to juggle so many things. Not everyone in the village contributeds equally or in the same way yet it all balances out at some point. Sad that some people don’t get that.

  6. Andrea

    A teacher started in on her? Wow.

  7. mayberry

    That is both heartbreaking and infuriating!

  8. Tree

    You are right on there, my friend. And it is really good to hear that your school village is a strong one.

  9. monstergirlee

    I just became a SAHM after working full-time for the last 10 of 11 years. Yikes. No matter what you do you get it from all sides.
    Guilt, its all about guilt. grr….

  10. Sarah K

    My motto:
    “Stop me before I volunteer again!”

  11. Burgh Baby

    Do not get me started . . . just thinking about the crap guilt trips people lay on each other about working/not working/being there/not being there is enough to make me crazy.

  12. Gretchen

    Perhaps the teacher didn’t know the mom’s circumstance? Rather than guilt inducing perhaps she was trying to let the mother know she was welcome in the classroom?

    Maybe, just maybe,the “condescending” attitude of the teacher was in the eye of the beholder?

  13. MB

    So timely, your post. I’m the single mom WOHM, so the guilt is even bigger. You can only ask the grandparents to cover the volunteer shifts so many times…and I still get the evil eye from the teacher. So thanks for the props. I needed that.

  14. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

    That makes me angry. A teacher should know better.

    None of us have it easy and at the same time we ALL have it easy if we are sitting here with 5 minutes to read a blog post.

    Why must we act like bitches to other moms?

  15. NaysWay

    I just had this exact same conversation with a colleague of mine. We both work and our kids go to schools with lots of SAHMs. The kids are always complaining about how little Timmy’s mom went with them on a field trip, and how come YOU can’t do that? Then the SAHMs all high and mighty thumbing their noses at us working mothers for not being on the PTA board. Good gravy, it’s a never-ending battle. You’re right.

  16. Anonymous

    that is insane!! -m

  17. Catutes

    It’s not how much time, it’s what is done with the time given. That teacher is waaaaay out of line. I hope your friend can put it into perspective that the time she does give is just as valuable.

    I’m a working Mom, out of the home, and now a Board of Education Member for our school district. I spend quality time with my kid’s and, while a little less sane than before, add value to the schools.

    So, I don’t make it into the classroom regularly, or go on field trips. There are other Mom’s eager to do so, and I absolve myself of any guilt over that.

  18. Angie

    Right on!!!!

  19. Julie @ The Mom Slant

    As I’ve told Tacy, I will not pay for a babysitter so that I may chaperone a field trip. I will find other ways to volunteer.

    Likewise, your friend should not feel compelled to take a sick day or personal day so that she may chaperone a field trip. She already finds other ways to volunteer.

    Teachers deserve much more support and recognition than they usually get, but that teacher deserves a boot in the ass.

  20. J at

    Amen. VERY frustrating. I hate the battles that go on, when what we should ALL be doing is supporting one another.

  21. Anonymous

    At my school the fundraising money does not go “directly” to the teacher salary, it is used to better the school environment….where your child attends for a longer period of time than is home for the duration of the day. Wierd that people don’t respect teachers more.

  22. fruitlady

    She should have told that teacher EXACTLY what was happening. That her time was better spent at the present trying to make sure she still had a job so that her kid still had a house and food and was a healthy productive student in the class even though his mom couldn’t be there. We have seen a huge decline in school volunteers this year and it’s all due to the fact that people are trying to keep their ducks in a row at home so we can stay in the neighborhoods we’re in and keep our kids in the schools they are in. And guess what? The kids are all doing fine at school. This teacher needed to be reminded of these facts. Sometimes we all have to work a little harder at our jobs to keep the village alive. I have often had to tell the teachers that I don’t come into the classroom because I find it too disruptive for my kids. This is my choice. I do lots of other stuff so that the boys know I am an active presence at their school and I do rely on the other parents AND the teachers when I am not around. I feel like calling this teacher and reminding her of this fact! Gah!!!

  23. fruitlady

    I meant to say THESE facts. Woops!

  24. Anonymous

    I am betting the teacher didn’t mean it the way she took it.

  25. Xtian

    To Anonymous RE “I am betting the teacher didn’t mean it the way she took it.” : Actually, Anonymous, as a parent of a fellow student at this school (and one of the SAHDs Greeblemonkey writes about), I can state the Teacher meant her jab *exactly* as Greeblemonkey’s Mom-Friend took it. Although I absolutely love this school, most of its staff, and its diverse, vibrant, and supportive culture, there are definitely certain members of this school’s community who continually draw this line in the sand in precisely the way Greeblemonkey has described, and when you end up on the wrong side (in one or another’s opinion) of the line, the message is quite clear. I too am uncertain exactly why these kinds of tussles still occur in today’s trying times, and think everyone would benefit if people tried a little sensitivity.

  26. Anonymous

    It sounds as if this school is no better than any other when it comes to gossipy parents and second hand accounts of “condescending” behavior. Gossip never helps any situation.

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