This Halloween I dressed up as a working parent.
At the end of a meeting the other day, we were setting up a time to reconvene. When 5pm on October 31 was identified as a time where all other parties were available, I unabashedly piped up that I wouldn’t be attending. I had made Halloween commitments to my kids.
I seriously didn’t feel bad about saying this. First of all, 5pm is a horrible time to have a meeting. Nobody wants to sit down and get started on something at that hour, after working a full day. But that’s a rant for another post.
What changed my unapologetic tune to one of annoyance was when someone at the meeting, a woman, laughingly said: “Oh all the moms in my office told me they’re leaving early that day.”
Really? No dads were leaving early? Because I know several, including my husband, who took off at 3 to be home in time for our neighborhood’s Halloween parade, in which our kids were marching.
And do you have to be a PARENT anyway to partake in Halloween festivities that may cause you to cut your workday short? Because a former colleague, a married guy without children, ALWAYS takes off from work that day. He just loves manning the door and dispensing treats to the wee ones.
No, the meeting wasn’t changed to accommodate my life. Such an expectation is laughable, apparently. And look, it IS hard to find a good meeting time among 5 people in 3 different time zones. I get it.
My family always comes first. And that should be the case for anyone, whether they define family by the spouses, children, pets, church groups, softball teams they hold dear.
So why do I take such offense at being lumped in with a group of moms leaving work early on Halloween?
I guess it’s because the reason I was leaving early wasn’t because I reproduced. It was because I had a life event (that happened to revolve around my offspring). And I twinge at the times when the mom label eclipses all else. Why can’t it co-exist with everything else I am? Why does motherhood have to attach itself to all the other parts of me? “Work-out-of-the-home” mom is what I am. “Stay-at-home” mom is what others are. Can’t we cleave the motherhood from the rest of us in the lexicon of how we describe ourselves?
Yes, I made a choice to be a parent. And I’m not trying to “have it all.” Trust me. But must everything have the “mom” filter when it comes to women of a certain age? Like, does EVERYTHING have to be couched in whether you’ve reproduced or not?
And I’m not just talking about those of us with kids. I’m sure child-free women are annoyed that they need to clarify the definition of themselves in the context of parenthood.
So if all the moms are leaving early, EVERYONE should be allowed to leave early, without having to subscribe to some classification. Life is life. With kids or without.
How has life intersected with your work? And did you feel you had to apologize for it?