I met a new gal recently who, when she learned I worked part-time, said, “Oh, isn’t that cute?” What the what? Oh no she didn’t. Oh yes, she did. Words rarely fail me, but in that moment, they did. My recollection is that I smiled on the outside and seethed on the inside. I’ve been seething ever since.
You see, it’s not cute that I work part-time. It’s a choice. One I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to make. It’s a choice that works for me and doesn’t affect the gal who made the comment or anyone else other than my family. So back off, with your dimunitive comments. Working part-time doesn’t mean I am less able, less serious, less committed to my work. It means I am able, serious and committed for fewer hours. Period.
And I get that I can’t have it all. I learned that a few years ago when I scaled back to help care for my Mom. I harbor no illusions that I can do it all, have it all. Some gals can, but not me. Nope. I suck at it. I know my limitations and I respect them.
I also know that those limitations come with some conseqences. Part-time workers are less likely to be perceived as serious or valuable to the employer. I won’t be fast tracked, despite the fact that I can work rings around most of the working mothers I know. That is what it is. With choice comes responsibility and accountability. More time with my family now means less time with my career, and less time with my career means less opportunities. I get it. I’m okay with it.
Part-time moms are in a bit of a no-moms land, if you will — we’re not SAHMs and we’re not full-time working moms, obviously. For me, it is perfection, as I have a little from column A and a little from column B. I love that. I love that on Monday evening, just as Mary Tyler Son is starting to work on my last nerve, I switch gears a bit and anticipate my work self and her needs for a few days. On Thursday evenings, I sigh and stretch, and look gratefully to a quiet Friday morning of pancakes and Wiggleworms with my boy. Yep, perfection.
My Dad, my Archie Bunker dad, God love him, said it best when I switched to a part-time schedule after my daughter was born, “You’re away from her just enough to appreciate her more when you’re with her.” So if my cranky, old-fashioned, 78 year old father can get it, why is it so hard for other mothers to get it?