12 February 2015

PSA: 5 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Working Mom

Yesterday, I was talking with a co-worker of mine about how I love working and having a career and how I feel I’ve grown so much as a person, a mom and a mate by having the opportunity to work outside the home while being fortunate enough to have an excellent day care provider that I trust to leave my child with every day. I thought the conversation was going well; two professional women and mothers talking about why they love to work when out of nowhere, my co-worker says to me, “Well, I think it’s great you feel so comfortable working but when my kids were young, I would have never dreamed of working outside the home while having someone else raise them.”

I’m sure you all know how well that comment went over with me.

It took every ounce of willpower I had to keep my composure and not let Courtnay-nay rear her ugly head. While I understand that this woman raised children in a completely different era than me with different expectations and societal “norms,” I was still so completely offended for women, especially working moms, in general. Haven’t women worked harder to deserve more than this? In the year 2015, have we not yet truly learned that in order to have a society of strong, independent, confident women we should all be uplifting and supporting one another in our decisions, hopes and dreams? I was completely and utterly befuddled and sad all at the same time. 

Let me be clear: I don’t think anyone sets out to be rude or judgmental, but I’m often surprised at what well-meaning and generally thoughtful people say to mothers who are not staying home full-time with their children. It’s not in every case but more than I would like, there is a subtle hostility or judgment that comes from statements like my co-worker that makes me wish more people would be conscientious enough to think before they speak. 

As her comment marinated in my mind for the rest of the day, I couldn’t help but to think of all the other comments and questions regarding my choice to be a working mom that gets thrown onto me more than I like. So here they are – the comments. And before anyone gets their feathers ruffled allow me to be crystal clear: I 110% support SAHM’s. They work hard all day, every day. The choice they make to stay home is both amazing and selfless so please stop giving me the stink eye, okay? This is simply my point of view as a working mom.

ONE. Can’t you afford to stay home with your child? Let’s assume for a minute that I can’t. Let’s say that in order for my child to have the education her father and I want her to have, I work so that she can go to school or have braces or for any other need our family might have. Where exactly does this conversation go now? Awkward, right? Furthermore, I’m then tempted to put you on the spot and ask how much money your husband makes so that you’re able to stay home. Let’s just both agree to not go there, okay?

Having said this, sometimes it’s not all about the money. Sometimes, mothers such as me, work because we actually want to work. We enjoy it. I value my education and the years I’ve put into my career. I also think it’s healthy and beneficial for our daughter to see me working so that she knows there is more to life than being a wife and a mom. Bigger than this, I also know that one day, my child will grow up and leave us. I want to keep a footing in the professional world so that there isn’t a big gaping hole on my resume making it harder for me to find a job. So you see, there are many reasons I choose to work but honestly, it really shouldn’t matter because the question devalues my choices. Simply put, please don’t do that.

TWO. I could never have someone else raising my child.
What I really want to say to you: “I am raising them you stupid, ignorant %*&@#!!!

What I’ll simply say here: Refer back to #1. Loving and raising a child is not incompatible with having support to do that. Yes, my child may be with other people during the day but make no mistake about it – her father and I are deep in the trenches raising her. If the old saying goes, “It takes a village” than let’s all encompass every aspect of what this saying means and stop being just a little less judgmental, thank you very much.

THREE. There’s plenty of time to work later. These early years are so precious. The last time I checked, all the years are precious so your point is…?

FOUR. It must be amazing to get away from your kid every day.
What I really want to say to you: It is! You know, it’s just like a mini-vacation and can you believe they also pay me??!!

What I’ll simply say here: How about we all just STOP polarizing the conversation and debate about who has it worse. There are pros and cons to each. Instead, how about we join forces by saying, “I know you’re at home all day with the kids and I really need a break from work. Want to do a spa day together?”

FIVE. Don’t you have family nearby that can watch your kid when she’s sick? (A pretty standard and famous questions by co-workers)
What I really want to say to you: My child is my responsibility, especially when she is sick. She wants and needs her mother. 

What I’ll simply say here: Regardless If I have family or not nearby to help me, I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for taking care of my child, period.

If you’re a working mom, what challenging conversations or statements have you had to deal with from others? 

Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.


  1. Oh yes, I've definitely heard these lines. I actually lost a friendship over this type of consistent commentary. The "raising them" comment especially pisses me off. My husband and I are raising our kids, even though we aren't with them every waking moment. Maybe we are in that funky generation where we still need to deal with these crappy comments. I hope we will have evolved by the time my daughter is in the workforce.

  2. My other questions would be... would you judge my child's father the same way? Does anyone ask the Dads why they aren't stay-at-home fathers? If you wouldn't ask a man that, then don't ask a woman...

  3. YES. I couldn't have said that any better myself. Michael hardly if ever has these same types of conversations or questions asked of him and it's infuriating. Enough already!

  4. Very well said, Kerry. And I agree - I hope by the time my daughter goes out into the world, both people's minds and perceptions are a little bit more open and accepting. Thanks for reading!

  5. Seriously!! I totally agree! Parenting is a partnership!

  6. Definitely heard all these lines... I really have had to change a couple social circles because of this...

  7. Me too, and it makes me sad. We should all have the ability to just support one another instead of judge and criticize. Have a good weekend, Becky!

  8. Could not agree more. I've been told many of these things too. And I'll be honest with you, we live in CA and honestly, we can't afford me to stay home. So while I make more a month than Mason's preschool costs, I work. Simple as that. BUT, like you said, even if I had a choice, I genuinely do like going to work everyday. I know Mason is safe and taken care of at school and he is learning WAY more than I could ever teach him. And on the weekend, we play and play and I don't feel guilty about that. We fully enjoy and don't take for granted that special time we have together. Mason cries for a second when we drop him off at school and then he has THE TIME OF HIS LIFE. He then cries when we pick him up at night! I could go on and on but I think you did an amazing job explaining everything, so I will simple say. Well said mama!

  9. Thanks, Liz! I'm sorry you've had to deal with this, too. You are an amazing mom!! Don't ever let anyone make you feel differently. Have a great weekend.

  10. Yes yes yes. Being a working mom is so hard - we don't need the extra judgment or negativity.

  11. Exactly. We are all doing our best. Hope you have a great weekend!

  12. Desiree @ Macke MonologuesFebruary 13, 2015 at 6:50 PM

    The spa day, I'll take that one please and thank you.
    Being a mom is a tough gig whether or not your work outside the home, or stay home. The Judgey McJudgersons (whether they realize they realize they are being so, or not) can just beat it.

  13. I heard the "I would never let someone else" raise my child from a dear friend. There's a twist, though. I was working as an Early Childhood Educator (my fancy title for daycare teacher) at the time and didn't have any kids yet. So when my friend said, "I would never let someone else" raise my child, I was offended that *I* as an ECE teacher with a Master's degree wasn't perceived as worthy enough to help, aid, and assist families raising their families. It's stuck with me for over a decade!

  14. I can completely relate to this! Although I am not working at the moment due to childcare issues, I was working full-time with my first by choice. Most of the mums I met in pre-natal classes wouldn't talk to me when I went back to work when siena was 3 months. And I was also asked all of the above questions. Even now, people will say I am lucky to not have to work and stay at home with my children, as they can't afford to do so. For us, we're better off financially for me not working, despite both being qualified lawyers. And that doesn't seem right to me either... Working was always a luxury for me, and I do miss working now. Having been on both sides, I truly wish parents could all just be more supportive towards each other, especially as you never know 100% the reason behind parent's choices. It's so judgmental isn't it? My personal favourite when working was: "It's good you're happy to work but I could neeeeever do that to my child and miss out on my baby growing up". As if by going to work I was not going to notice when they started walking, talking, etc... My kids both adored their nursery, and thrive on social interactions with other adults and children. Siena would also cry when I picked her up from nursery... she truly loved it and I loved the staff there!

    Ultimately, we're all doing the best we can and kids all seem happy whether their parents are at home or work outside. High five to all (the non judgy) parents! :D

    ps aaaaaaaaand breathe!