As a woman who is responsible for two adorable little humans and as a woman who also has a job, I am part of the demographic known as "working moms." And while I'm always grateful for any genuine verbal encouragement that comes my way, I deal with my fair share of backhanded compliments working moms are tired of hearing, too. If you do double duty as a someone with a career and being someone's Mommy, you undoubtedly know exactly what I'm talking about. There are simply certain people who have a lot of opinions when it comes to the life choices of a woman not devoting 100 percent of her attention to her kids 100 percent of the time.
For that matter, if you're a mom in any way, shape, or form, you're likely no stranger to backhanded compliments in general. Lots of them. Let's be real: From the moment you share the exciting news you will become a parent, opinions begin to filter in about everything from how you plan to potty train your child to whether you should or should not be doing whatever it is you're doing at that very moment to make someone weigh in on your parenting style. Backhanded compliments fall beneath the umbrella of such unsolicited opinions, and working mamas like myself hear them on the daily.
Of course, there's always the argument that people don't realize there is an insult hiding beneath the surface of the "compliment" they think they just paid a working mom. While that's debatable, I'm all for helping clear the air. To that end, here are six choice backhanded compliments many working moms are sick to death of. So, uh, try and avoid 'em, eh? We've got enough on our plates without having to decipher passive aggressive swipes. Read: This mama ain't got time for that drama.
1. "You're So Much Braver Than I Am! I Could Never Trust My Kids To Someone Else."
It's not like we pin a note to our kids' backpacks, drop 'em off at the curb of the child care center, and just hope for the best. To be clear, no one else is raising our kids. Working moms are very invested in the everyday decisions that mold their kids into the humans they'll become. We may not be with our kids every single minute of the day, but we are a guiding presence in their lives. And, for the record, with the exception of parents who choose to homeschool, everyone is exactly this brave — it's not like moms and dads roam the halls with their kids at school or peer over their shoulder to share a textbook during third period. We're all on this crazy ride that is parenthood together, you guys.
2. "It's Amazing You Don't Look More Tired!"
Um, thanks? I love how this "compliment" always comes with the qualifier more. As in, you look tired as hell, but hey, given your circumstances, it could totally be worse. Am I exhausted? Absolutely. Because of the nature of my job (writers work some wild deadlines), I rarely get more than five hours of sleep per night. No bueno, I know. But this is kind of the norm for a lot of working moms, who must juggle long days at work, chauffeuring kids to extracurriculars, keeping some semblance of order in the house, waking up early to get everyone ready for their day and repeating the whole process. So, yeah, we don't need any coded compliments to remind us we probably have bags the size of compact cars under our eyes. Unless you're willing to spot us a day at the spa, zip your lip on this one.
3. "Well, I'm Sure Being Away From Your Kids Makes You Treasure Every Single Minute With Them When You Are Together."
You know what sucks about the implication here? How much undue pressure it places on a working mom. So just because we spend part of our days away from our littles, we aren't allowed to experience the normal range of emotion that comes with motherhood? 'Cause, real talk, being a mom is hard work — it isn't always rainbows and sunshine. There's no question I adore my children with every fiber of my being. Of course I treasure the time I get to spend with my kids! That's not to say, though, the little rascals don't wear on my last nerve every now and then. That doesn't make me any less of a mother than the stay-at-home mom who deals with the exact same frustrations.
4. "I Admire You For Putting Your Career First. I'd Feel Too Guilty Over Everything I Was Missing At Home."
C'mon. Really? It's not as though I work with the active goal of missing out on my children's milestones. Some days are harder than others, and I literally ache to be with them. However, I also truly love what I do and get a tremendous sense of accomplishment from doing it. I'm a firm believer that, despite some of the moments I may be missing along the way, my kids will benefit from having a mom who pursued her passions and worked her ass off every day to support her family. And while I'm often able to work from home with my kiddos camping out in my office, not all working moms have that luxury. So until there is widespread reform where things like flex-time and paid parental leave are concerned, this is how working moms will continue to roll.
5. "I'm Sure It's Hard To Be Away From Your Kids, But I Bet The Extra Spending Money Helps Soften The Blow."
Let me be clear: I am thankful that, as a writer, I am able to make a very good living. Such is not always the case for creatives, and I have busted my proverbial hump to make it happen. Having said that, it's not like I'm fanning my face with a wad of Benjamins while I roll up to the daycare in my Range. On the contrary, like many working moms, most of my dinero goes right back into the household and toward the tiny humans sharing my life. The bit things to bear in mind about working is that, no. 1, it's something that fulfills me and helps my family, and no. 2, you assuming my reasoning for working is purely financial marginalizes any such considerations that go into me making the decision to have a career.
6. "It Must Be Nice To Get A Break From Your Kids Every Day."
I never know how to take this comment. Obviously, the person paying this compliment could very well be away from their kids every day if they wanted to hop into the rat race. Thus, I'm left to infer there is some sort of resentment over the fact that I spend part of my day toiling away at work for some company instead of toiling away at home in the company of my kids. Never mind the fact that I'm constantly plagued by guilt: Guilt when I'm gone for leaving my kids, and guilt when I'm home for neglecting my work. Never mind, you know, the whole working part of going to work. The reality is my responsibilities to my children don't just go away because I go to work — they're all waiting on me when I walk through the door. Some days the only thing keeping me sane is that late night bottle, er, glass of wine and my fancy foot bath from Brookstone.