The plight of work­ing moth­ers

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

I look at women at work dif­fer­ently af­ter what hap­pened this morn­ing

I was drop­ping my 2-year-old off at day­care, and even though he has been go­ing for months and has ad­justed well, to­day he did not want any of it. Once we ar­rived, Mr. Carter had a death grip on me, forc­ing me to sit with him for a few min­utes as I tried to as­sure him that it was OK. It was that sad, chin-quiv­er­ing face star­ing back at mine that made me hon­estly want to pluck him up and run right back out and head any­where that would make him happy.

But I knew I was run­ning late to work al­ready, and if I sat any longer it would be no­tice­able to the bosses that I was not where I was sup­posed to be. So I had to make the dif­fi­cult and seem­ingly un­nat­u­ral de­ci­sion to let his teacher try and take him so I could leave. The next few mo­ments were like a scene from an epic Hol­ly­wood tragedy. Tears and snot were stream­ing down Mr. Carter’s pan­icked face, his arms out­stretched. I blew a kiss and walked out, wait­ing un­til I got in the car to cry.

I’m an older mother, wait­ing un­til my 40s to have my son, so I have taken for granted all the po­ten­tial ob­sta­cles a work­ing mother has to face. I heard crit­i­cism in the past by non-par­ent col­leagues that moth­ers seem to get spe­cial priv­i­leges if they leave early to pick up or care for a child. I didn’t have a dog in that fight back then so I never re­ally had an opin­ion. But now I do.

Mind your own busi­ness. By the time I got to work, I had al­ready spent a good three hours tak­ing care of my son’s needs, then spent the day try­ing not to worry about the emo­tional ef­fects the morn­ing had on my son, who likely started play­ing the minute I left. No one at work had any idea I had just been in tears, and spend­ing the en­ergy to come across as nor­mal is ex­haust­ing enough in the work­force, let alone hav­ing to deal with the judg­ment of oth­ers if I do have to show my real emo­tion. It goes back to the old adage “walk a mile in some­one else’s shoes.” You never know what any­one, mother or not, has been through be­fore they walk through the of­fice door.

Busi­ness is not a thing or a brand. More im­por­tantly, it is filled with hu­man be­ings who more than likely have har­ried morn­ings like mine that make them feel in­se­cure about the choices they’ve made in their lives. Bosses should feel hon­ored to have a staff will­ing to go through that for them. More im­por­tantly, col­leagues should just as­sume that the woman sit­ting next to you could use a kind word or a joke, rather than im­pa­tience coated with the typ­i­cal in­au­then­tic smile. Re­mem­ber, we’re in this to­gether.

“No one at work had any idea I had just been in tears, and spend­ing the en­ergy to come across as nor­mal is ex­haust­ing enough in the work­force, let alone hav­ing to deal with the judg­ment of oth­ers if I do have to show my real emo­tion.”

Melissa Carter is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and has been heard over the years on B98.5 and Q100. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @Melis­saCarter.

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