Editor’s note: This week we handed over the reins to Riyadh-based mummy blogger Ya Mama. As a working mother with four children, ranging in age from three-and-a-half to almost 13, she knows all about juggling career and family life. But while managing a tricky schedule can be tough work, according to this popular Saudi wordsmith, it’s actually the comments from others that really push her buttons. Here’s what she had to say…
There is a social phenomenon that is global and affects all mothers. It is the idea that being a mother immediately gives the people around you the right to call your parenting style into question. As a working mother most of these comments and opinions are around my choice to have a career.
Last week I sent out an email to all my working-mama friends, asking them to send me a list of the most annoying comments they’ve had directed at them over the years. The response was overwhelmingly funny, sad and infuriating all at the same time. Here are some of my favourites. I have included my sarcastic responses (that I have managed to keep to myself) just for fun:
Things you should never say to a working mum: On priorities
“Get your priorities right.” As if I never thought of them… (sigh).
“It’s good you put yourself first. My life is dedicated to my house and kids.” Because I couldn’t possibly care about my house and kids as much as a stay-at-home mum.
“You’re really neglecting your duties as a wife and mother.” Grrr, just grrr…
Things you should never say to a working mum: Independence
“Why do you need to work? Your husband makes enough money.”
“Wouldn’t you rather stay at home and get an allowance from your husband?” Doubly annoying, because this was said by a man…
“How does your husband feel about you working?” Probably the same way I feel about him working… Happy he is doing something productive and contributing to the community and his family. What a fantastic role model we are for our children.
Things you should never say to a working mum: On relationships with her children
“Don’t you worry your kids will be more attached to the nanny than to you?” Thanks. Because this is what every working mother wants on her mind as she drives off to work in the morning.
“Where do you leave your kids?!” On the side of the street. Obviously I leave them in the care of someone capable and caring!
“It makes sense your kid is misbehaving, they probably miss you as you work all day.” Ah I never thought of that! Why is your child misbehaving then? Probably because he’s a child, and they misbehave sometimes!
“Wow… I don’t know how you do it! I could never leave my kids. My heart wouldn’t let me.” Yup, clearly us working mums have hearts of stone.
Things you should never say to a working mum: On maternity leave
“Men should get paternity leave as long as mothers do.” Yes, because men carry a baby in their bodies for nine months, then give birth to them and nourish them. They deserve as much time as we do… (ugh!)
Things you should never say to a working mum: Just plain infuriating
“Oh how nice that you’re working. It’s good to keep yourself occupied.” Yes… Instead of just twiddling my thumbs I decided, on a whim, to have a career. It’s not like what I do is important or difficult… it’s just to pass time.
“You look exhausted! Why do you work so hard?” Well, that made me feel great… So thanks.
All of the above quotes come from women who are CEOs, doctors, teachers, business owners, bankers and more. They work in multinational firms, NGOs and teach in the best schools. They are women who have studied and worked hard to get to their positions. I commend any woman who has the courage and ability to pursue her dreams and ambitions all the while knowing that at the end of her paid job, she will come home to the 24-hour, 365-days-a-week commitment that is motherhood.
Ultimately becoming a mother doesn’t mean giving up any ambitions or passions you have in order to dedicate your life to your children and home. I don’t believe that work-life balance is a myth, but I do believe it doesn’t all solely fall on the mother to find that balance. And to mothers who have chosen to stay at home with their children and be full-time mothers I would like to say more power to you! If that’s the choice you make thank God for the right to make it. But what works for one mother may not work for another… So let’s just commit to not being so judgmental or at least keeping a lid on it when we can’t help but judge.