Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guest Blogger: Rejecting the Working Mom Guilt Trip

Tattooed Hippie Pirate Momma's first guest blogger is my friend and a hep-kat momma.

This piece was originally written for her friend with a 2-year-old who was upset because she felt guilty about working instead of staying at home. It turned into a piece about public schools & the media pressure. Thank you, Hep-Kat momma, for your inspiring point of view.

How a single mommy rejected the guilt trip served by the media & public school system

Happy mommies have happy babies.  Don't forget to keep yourself happy. :)

Do not let the stay-at-home-moms make you feel bad about working.  We can afford to expose our children to experts & offer them better opportunities not available to those with low income.  And there is nothing wrong with choosing to stay home if you can afford it.  We mommies need to stick together & be supportive of each other.

As long as the time you spend together is quality, that is what her memories are made of.  It's ok if we need a nap after work, because when we are awake we have love together.

You have to learn to recognize & overcome condescending attitudes that are thrown at you.

It starts with the media, Martha Stewart, Mom Brady (who had a maid, by the way), but then they kick it up a notch in church & schools.... they are serious & they make it personal.

I promise you that public schools are terrible about demonizing working parents who can't drop everything at a moments notice to come to the school every week.  I read a great article about it, this myth being fed to teachers that parents don't care about their kids, when in reality they are asking parents to choose between work & being at the school during the day.  They honestly don't realize that this is impossible for working parents & it would be nice if they could prioritize what they need you at school for.
I had to "wait out" a secretary at my kid's school just last week. They wanted to give her a Draconian dress code punishment & I asked them to reschedule it so we could travel last week.  They refused to reschedule, so I demanded to talk to the principal. (You must be super super polite, never openly express anger or say "my kid would never..."  It totally throws off their game; they are used to being on the defense with irate parents, so when you are nice to them they don't know how to handle it).  The secretary refused to let me see him, said he was in a meeting till forever.  I said I'd wait. Then I went to the principal's office next door & asked to make an appointment with him afterwards.  I told them I'd wait in the vice principal's office next door until one of them was ready.  I do the wait-out as an absolute last resort; if you over-use it they will make it ever harder.

School is so different now.  They make it so hard to go to your kid's class.  They never answer their phones if you call.  You literally have to bring an ID & personally ask to get anything done.

The conversation I had with her administrators in junior high about my kid's "behavioral problem" was a great example.  My kid was accused of not staying in her seat during band rehearsals.  Now I already knew that my first chair trombonist sat next to a very very disturbed kid. This kid had been abused & neglected as a child & was adopted into the suburbs.  My daughter had told me stories all year about how the kid would throw things at the first year band teacher & how one day the kid SEWED her own lips together. (We are talking a 7th grader!)

I let the principal vent.  ThenI told them that I agreed with everything.  Anabeth should totally stay in her seat & learn to play her instrument.  I agree.  However, I asked them if they knew so-and-so sat next to my daughter in that class.  I told them I knew so-and-so had discipline problems & that I felt sorry for the kid & didn't want her to get sent to special school.  I also said that I knew it was that teacher's first year of teaching.

Then I laid it down.... told them in order for my child to sit still she would have to be protected and safe.  I told them they need to provide this teacher better tools so she could control her class because she was picking the easier child to discipline out of fear.  I also said that my daughter's glasses had been taken by the bully & destroyed by slamming a case repeatedly shut on them.  I told them that if they were not willing to protect her I only had two choices: contacting the school district or allowing my child to defend herself.

They were shocked & did not like my tactic. They said I could not encourage my daughter to use violence. I reminded them my child had no history of violence but would not lie down & take abuse, but would prevent her own injuries.  If not violence, they would have to allow her to remove herself from the line of fire & get out of the seat when necessary.

They relented & talked to the teacher, who quit giving my daughter a hard time in class.  My daughter was told to tell the bully "You are not allowed to hit me.  I do not give you permission"  repeatedly.  She was bitten once & my daughter bit her back.  The girl never touched her again & actually would tell everyone Ana was her best friend (scary).

This was actually small potatoes compared to the numerous ADD/ADHD recruiting conversations I had every year of her elementary school education.  She is curious & got bored with sitttttttttting all day long.  Her 2nd grade teacher had migraines & didn't really like small children & went on a mission to get my kid sedated; even got the principal in on it.  My kid had no behavior problems, other that wanting more challenges. I honestly think they have good intentions, but drugging kids is a default in schools today. 

The worst part is they tell you that you are failing your child as a parent if you don't take them to a doctor & get "performance enhancing" drugs like the other kids.  Like straight up, "how can you sleep at night if you don't drug your kid" kinda comments.

Stay hard, ladies.  Remember your kid is awesome.  Don't let them get you down.

P.S. please read this wonderful report about how public schools often misunderstand low income kids or assume working parents don’t care because they aren’t able to be in the classroom with their kid every day.  Really powerful article that needs to be shared with parents of young kids.  Ammo for those who are braving the public school system instead of homeschooling

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