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For Working Parents, Something Has To Give

By Sierra Black |

Working mother

Working parents have to make compromises

None of us can do it all. We can be great moms, have stellar careers, love our partners and even get a little rock-and-roll in around the edges. But we can’t do all of it all the time. We’ll always run into a schedule conflict that can’t be resolved, or just hit the limits of our own abilities to multi-task. Where by “multi-task” I mean “stay awake”.

Mom 101 writes movingly about the things she misses out on doing with her kids, being a working mother. Mostly she’s made her peace with it: missing the playground dates and the music classes. She can’t get over not being at every doctor’s appointment, though.

For me, the big thing is learning to read. I want to be sitting there with my daughter when she cracks that magic code. Learning to read is among my most cherished childhood memories. But someone else is teaching her. She comes home from school each day with some new piece of the puzzle figured out. Today her 1st grade teacher taught her how to write the date.

We read together every day, but it’s clear that I’ve passed the teacher hat. I won’t see her read a sentence aloud for the first time; she’s already done it at school.

What’s the hardest compromise you’ve had to make as a working parent?

Photo: mirimcfly

More by Sierra Black:

I Flunk Being A Girly Mama

Why I Don’t Miss Homeschooling

How Smartphones Made The Playground Fun

Stepmothers: Do You Really Love Your Husband’s Kids?

10 Ways To Squash Sibling Rivalry

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About Sierra Black

sierra

Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “For Working Parents, Something Has To Give

  1. Gretchen Powers says:

    She can’t take time off to take her kids to the doctor? Really? That’s a problem.

  2. Gretchen Powers says:

    In her “about me” section on her site, she says her partner is a “stay at home dad”…why can’t HE take them? Bah.

  3. Canadian says:

    You could do all the reading in the world at home though, and they still could ‘crack the code’ while at school. Cherish the moments you have reading with them, and remember the times where you’ve seen them grasp something entirely new. It would be very difficult to be there for every single instance of it. And probably healthy for them to learn things independently as well! As long as there is a balance and your energy and heart are there when you are, that is what matters and what will be remembered!

  4. DKM says:

    I agree with Gretchen completely. Your babies need their mommy or daddy there with them when they go to the doctor for a well visit. Not only so that you as parents can see their progress and talk to the doctor about it, but also to comfort them when they are scared about their shots and to console them and tell them how proud you are when it is over. I think it is time to find a ped with Saturday or evening hours – they do exist!

    Yes, I am lucky because I only work part-time so I’ve never missed a well-visit, though I have missed a couple of sick visits (dad was able to go though). But I do think this is something that should be a priority!

  5. ChiLaura says:

    What?! Is a babysitter taking the kid to the doctor? Is it even legal to discuss health issues with a non-family member? Okay, okay, I’m sure it is, but, wow. I’m so glad that I can stay home with my kids. I don’t want anyone else to experience their firsts. In the past week, my 4 y/o is starting to read and is so proud of it!, and my baby is crawling fast enough that he wiped out on the floor. These are for mommy and daddy’s eyes only, pardon my posessiveness.

  6. michelle says:

    I was ready to give her a pass, thinking her husband was taking her kids to the doctor and she was just sad because she wanted to be there as well, but no, it was the nanny taking the kids to the doctor. What? This mom is an ad executive, for god’s sake! She is not an hourly worker. She is not going to lose her job for taking a few hours off work! I know because I am also a FT executive-level working mom and I have NEVER missed a ped appointment. My attitude is, “Fine, let them fire me!” Maybe because I just take the time off, say that I’m not going to be available from X time to Y time, and I never apologize, no one has ever actually fired me. I don’t mean to sound judgy; it’s more that I think she doesn’t need to be so afraid. If she’s good at what she does she will actually be promoted even as she takes all the flexibility she needs for her kids.

  7. PlumbLucky says:

    We take turns taking the kids to well-visits because the appointments relegated to “working mothers” at our practice are at 9:15 and between 3:30 and 4. Um…I want those hours please. So I use my rather pitiful vacation time a half day at a time when I need to, and in the field I’m in, there are some appts I just can’t make (bid deadlines do not move for me), so my husband takes them. Her husband, who is a SAHD, isn’t taking them? Um, why?

  8. Tlsae Course says:

    Whatever parents should make time for their kids especially Mom because generally kids are very close to their moms.After all we work hard for the kids future so its worth spending time with them.

    - http://www.tlsae-course.com

  9. anonymom says:

    I totally took the kids to all their dr. appts. when I was a nanny. I also bought their Christmas dresses, took them to have their photos taken, took them trick or treating, went on vacation with them. If you’re rich enough, it’s totally possible to delegate all of parenting.

  10. Manjari says:

    I know plenty of working parents that take their children to every doctor’s visit. Most working parents have kids in school, not with nannies, so they have to take sick, personal, or vacation days to take their kids to the doctor. It’s not like kids have well visits twice a week. Can she seriously not take off once a year for these visits if she finds it so upsetting? And, like everyone else here, I’m wondering why her husband can’t take them. Sending them with a sitter just seems cruel to me. There are times when kids do need their parents.

    anonymom, that is just sad. I guess this makes me judgmental, but I can’t help wondering why someone would choose to have children at all if they are going to delegate all of parenting. If your job is so demanding that you don’t have any time at ALL to be a parent…then don’t become a parent.

  11. KellyK says:

    I am a single mom who works full time. It has never occured to me to even send my child to the Doctor with even his grandma. This lady is clearly missing the mark (as well as her husband).

  12. Amy says:

    I am having trouble with the SAHD with a nanny?! Sorry, not processing well this morning. I hope hubby doesn’t see this, he is a SAHD without a nanny!

  13. Gretchen Powers says:

    Maybe her situation with the SAHD, or his SAH status has changed since she wrote the bio on the website…that’s the only thing I can think of.

  14. Madplanner says:

    Seriously people? Why are you hating on this woman?? She’s talking about the challenges of being a working mom and how she misses out on her child’s activities that she wishes she couldn’t. There are sooo many other factors that could be going on here with her job. It sounds like she’s doing what she can, wishes she could do more, and acknowledges it. Your priorities for what is ok to give up and what isn’t is not the same for everyone. So let’s just show some support and acknowledge that life is tough. Thanks for sharing your story, Mom101.

  15. Rosana says:

    The hardest compromise I had made as a working parent is accepting when my kids get sick at daycare. If they break a fever or vomit I would like to one there but they do not get to see me until after I pick them up and that just breaks my heart.
    Still, I take them to their pediatrician’s appointment and my husband takes my son to the dentist.

  16. JeninCanada says:

    Last fall I moved away for nearly 3 months to go to teacher’s college and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I missed out on my son’s first days at daycare. While I was at work years ago, I missed the first time he rolled over. It’s hard but thankfully his dad is always there and has always been supportive.

  17. LooLoo'sMommy says:

    Being there for my kids is more important to me than the materialistic gains two incomes provided. We downgraded on vacations, eat out a lot less, and traded new cars for ones without car payments, but it was all worth it.

  18. Twintown says:

    This really isn’t just applicable to working parents. Even as a SAHM, I’ve missed moments with my kids just by virtue of not spending every moment with them. My 7 year olds are in school all day so I missed that moment of cracking the code with reading. My dd did her first forward roll in gymnastics class while I was doing something with the baby. My son rolled over for the first time while I was in the shower and my husband was playing with him on the floor. Basically my point is that – with all of the very real issues working parents face (and I’ve been a working parent too) – this one rings a little hollow. Stay at home parents often miss out on things too. That’s just the nature of childhood…they don’t learn or perform only when we’re around.

    And LooLoo’s Mommy, I’m in the same boat. We made a conscious decision to downgrade some things so I could stay home with the baby. I know that doesn’t work for every family, but in our case, we both feel it’s worth it.

  19. Eliz says:

    LooLoo’sMommy, you tell ‘em! Those working moms fretting over rent and groceries really should heed your advice.

  20. foodmomiac says:

    Are you guys serious? I often delegate doctor’s appointments to my nanny. It has never once occurred to me that I was scarring my children for life. If I look back on my childhood, I don’t relish the memories of DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENTS with my mom. Are you kidding me? Try family dinners, holidays, vacations, weekends horsing around,etc. But doctor’s appointments?

  21. Marinka says:

    Eh, some parents work outside the home and some don’t. Mother or father, we all miss milestones, doctors’ appointments and school plays. It doesn’t make us bad parents. (And come on, are people still pulling the old “why did you have children in the first place” nonsense?)

  22. Issa says:

    I love how quick everyone is to judge a situation that they know nothing about. As a single mom, I’ve missed out on many, many things. When I lived in LA in the beginning of my girls lives, I too sent them to well visits with other people. I missed my younger daughter’s first steps, her first words. I missed a lot. I had to support my family, as Mom-101 is hers. When you live in a major metropolitan area, one income often just doesn’t cut it. We do the best we can. Also? It’s a well visit people. Her child wasn’t sick. She didn’t know her daughter was going to get a shot. Sometimes a choice has to be made. As parents, sometimes we then feel guilty about that choice. That was what Mom-101′s post was about.

    I know for a fact that Liz is a great mom. She’s doing the best she can. Slamming her for something she already feels guilty about is just rude.

  23. PlaydateDropout says:

    Mom101 didn’t say she misses ALL the doctor appointments. Frankly, I think she’s fortunate enough to have someone she trusts to take her kids in for well-visits. Its not like she’s abandoning her kids when they’re on death’s door. I grew up with a working mom and my parents traveled a lot for their jobs. My mom hired what she called “a wife”. Theresa did for us what my mom couldn’t because of work. I feel like I got two moms because they both did a great job raising me and my sister by demonstrating two very important jobs: motherhood and professional executive. FWIW my DH has met our pediatrician twice and the first time was when our second child was born. I’m the SAHM but sone day I’ll go back to work. Hopefully we can afford my own “wife” at that time. Why do we have to point fingers between WM vs SAHM? Let. It. Go.

  24. Loralee says:

    My attitude is, “Fine, let them fire me!”. Uh…because that is more responsible than allowing an adult caretaker to take your kids to an appointment?

  25. Brenna says:

    Wow, I am surprised at some of these comments. Is it really your place to be judging other mothers, or fathers, for their choices? I don’t work outside the home, but I am certainly not going to make another mama feel guilty for missing the class party that happens to be in the middle of the day, or tell her she is scarring her child for life by sending her with the sitter to an appointment, or blast someone for working. I have actually had to miss out on things for my oldest because I have two younger children. Many times younger siblings aren’t allowed and I don’t have care for them during the day. I guess that makes me a bad mom too?

  26. RookieMom Heather says:

    Really?! Seriously folks, the doctor appointments are not all that great. We all have to make trade-offs and choices. I see nothing wrong with trading doctor duty with another responsible, caring adult on the parenting team.

  27. Beth says:

    “Those working moms fretting over rent and groceries really should heed your advice”
    Seriously? Ser-i-freaking-ously? I am that mom. That working mom who waits every month for the phone call from the mortgage company to come because the payment is late. That mom whose husband has the job he could get in this economy, but who also has a 1 hour `commute each way. That mom that works part time because our family wouldn’t manage bus stops and meals and homework any other way, but who also sacrifices time with her husband and peace in her financial situation. So don’t get all damn high and mighty and talk about how if I would just sacrifice a few things I could be there for my kids. I do my best, but there are times I can’t be. And if I had to ask my sister or my mom to help out, I would. It is what people do when they are trying to effing survive.

  28. Karen Chatters says:

    I’m glad that we’re all so perfect we can pass judgment on others. I’m sure none of you have never done anything as a parent that someone else would do differently.

  29. Marci says:

    Are you kidding me? Some families need two incomes in order to pay the mortgage and other basic bills. I don’t count those as materialistic gains. There’s no need to make working moms feel guilty for that.

  30. ebs625 says:

    Hey LooLoosMommy, some of us work outside the home for reasons other than money. We do it because we want and need the intellectual stimulation, the ability to be someone other than Mom for a few hours. It makes us better people-and better parents. All parents make hard choices and miss special moments. The least we can do is support one another without judgement.

  31. [...] they see their therapists. Mom 101 was feeling some guilt recently and some commenters on another blog were quite judgmental.  No one is perfect and we are bound to affect our children both positively [...]

  32. m says:

    The lack of compassion in most of these comments is appalling.

  33. Tanya says:

    Ahh, I love the smell of a little mommy war napalm in the morning.

  34. Kacey says:

    Yeah, sorry, my sympathy here goes to the child. Sounds like her parents priorities are completely topsy-turvy.

  35. Grace {formerly gracie} says:

    “Being there for my kids is more important to me than the materialistic gains two incomes provided.”

    Oh please. Aren’t we sanctimonious today? We too have made the necessary sacrifices so I can be a SAHM, but I consider myself LUCKY not a martyr. I’ve never missed a moment of my children’s lives so I have a list of things I wish were someone else’s problem for a few hours each day. Potty training and getting rid of the paci are at the top…

    Also… I have part time nanny. Why? Because my husband works a ba-zillion hours and I still have to do stuff like go to the gynecologist. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to take my son along. He’s four, asks lot of questions, and has an obsessive need to tell strangers every details about our lives. As a blogger, I GET this but there are just some conversations I don’t want to have.

  36. Claire says:

    I find this thread ridiculous. As parents, we all make the decisions that we think are best, overall, for our children. I don’t think anyone has the place to judge Liz for making her own parenting decisions.

  37. Gleemonex says:

    Oh, good! Judgy-Time! Let’s make another mom, another woman, feel bad today! Somebody oughtta call CPS on this horrible she-beast! (was that a good one? I can do better!).

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