The working parent is getting more than a little fed up with the smug stay-at-home parent waving the ladle of parental guilt.
Stay At Home Parent
(SAHP) has a gift. They inspire rage and frustration in the hearts of the working parent. These women (and men) attend every sports match and every practice and think it’s completely fine to organise the [insert important occasion here] party for mid-afternoon on a Friday. They know every event, extra-mural, sport, lesson, teacher’s name, teacher’s husband’s dog’s name and even the reason why the principal looked peaky last Thursday.
Working parents are stressed. Their days are packed full of lovely guilt about saying NO to their kids and being unable to spend as much time with them as they want. They think that school paperwork has been devised by the devil and spend their weekend downtime doing labels and hunting for missing tracksuit bits.
It would be absolutely fine, this divide between the SAHP and the working parent, except for the tiny fact that SAHP’s are smug. They don’t keep it down. They behave as if they are the ones with the most stressful schedules, selflessly putting their needs at the back of the queue as they slave away over yet another fundraiser or homework project
“The SAHPs I’ve known have all entirely fit into the same mould: they parent their kids better, their kids are superior to mine and they are better than me because they mommy full time while I have fun at work,” says Lungelo.
Helen adds, “I often find them to be excruciatingly smug as they arrive at the school gates with immaculately turned out children carrying various projects which I didn’t even read the letter about, let alone dedicate my entire weekend to making.”
The issue goes beyond the SAHP’s hanging about the school 24/7 and doing every last thing that needs to be done: there is also the fact that they don’t seem to understand how difficult it is for the working parent to keep all those balls in the air.What’s the deal with Class Moms?
“There’s the awfulness of the whole Class Mom phenomenon, that sees at least two popular moms nominating themselves to organise social events for parents – apparently we had no social lives before our children went to school,” says Lucy. “To be fair, they do help with communication about events at school but I’m a working mom with loads on her plate already and I can’t be a Class Mom and I can’t show my kids that I am involved in the day-today things at their school.”
“At a recent weekend tennis match I was sitting with a group of mums who don’t work and we were discussing the upcoming camping trip for our kids,” said Khumelo. “The one mum turned to me and asked if I was also going to take the morning off to wave goodbye to my son and when I told her that I couldn’t get the leave, there were these sharp intakes of breath and expressions of horror. What made it even worse was the one mum asking me if my job was more important than my child.”
No, our children are not less important than our jobs. Our jobs pay for our children to go to these schools and wear those school clothes and attend those extra tennis lessons.
“There is a string of expectations from SAHP’s foisted onto working parents that don’t seem to be based in reality,” says Candra. “One of my favourites is a comment I got a few weeks ago – ‘It must be fabulous to get away from the madness of kids all day’. What? I would give anything to be with my kids for five minutes more each day than I get! And there is a deeper, far more annoying, implication that work is some sort of holiday.”
Working parents spend all day sorting things out, fixing crises, managing expectations and dealing with stresses
only to come home and do it all again with the kids. We don’t spend most of the time hanging out by the water cooler discussing sex and the photocopier. Obviously.Going to work is no holiday!
Olivia says, “I was feeling very broken after a particularly bad week at work and when I confided in a SAHP I counted as a friend, she replied with ‘Oh don’t worry about that, it’s just your job, I had to collect the laundry, tidy the lounge and then prepare the school gala timetable, how can you be stressed compared to that?’ I just stared at her and made an appropriate noise of pity. There is just no common ground there.”
Sorry SAHP’s, there is no way that cleaning the lounge or organising the dry cleaning is considered hard work by any working parents
. Stop with the smug and the guilt. We will all get along just fine if SAHP’s can accept the fact that working parents consider it an achievement that they’ve got their kid to school alive in the first place and feel guilty enough all by themselves, thank you very much.
Otherwise the stay at home parents should probably all be relegated to SAHP-only schools where they can battle out the superior parent wars between themselves and leave the rest of us in peace…Do you feel that stay-at-home parents think they're better parents?Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.