Recently Katie had to ask her nanny to step in for her on more personal Mom-matters. With 70% of dual income families today, this might become the norm. But why is guilt still involved?
Recently, I had to send my nanny to my daughter’s 3 year-old doctor’s checkup. I had a last-minute travel demand for work and couldn’t make the appointment. My husband couldn’t go either. But Dads seem to get off the hook for missing stuff. I guess that’s a blog for another time. Anyway, since changing a well-visit is worse than trying to change your privacy settings on Facebook, I kept the appointment and sent our very qualified nanny in my place.
This was on the heels of missing her preschool singing performance (as well as her brother’s). And sending our nanny instead.
Yes, I felt awful about missing these events. The concerts were at 10 and 11 a.m and I had a work event that morning. But I also felt incredibly relieved. I have a back-up “Mom” who can fill in for me when I just. can’t. be. there. She’s my nanny.
This is when my Working Mom-Guilt kicks in to high gear. I work. Regardless of why, the situation is not going to change. I just wish the schools and preschools would stop assuming one parent is home with their kids. Namely, Mom.
But you know what? Mom can’t do it all. The Working Moms. The Stay-at-Home Moms. None of us. So if we need to outsource it to a grandma, nanny or even swap shifts with another parent… so be it. Does it make us bad Moms? No, it makes us smart.
But it doesn’t remove the guilt.
And it doesn’t make the schools change their programming.
Last May, the NYPost revealed that some of the NYC private school moms were sending their nannies to school events, like bake sales, school plays and parent volunteer days. And the school officials (as well as other parents) were getting angry. They quoted one horrified school committee member saying “[These] Parents can’t be bothered two days a year for an hour?!”
The truth is, we can’t. We could lose our jobs. Another truth? It’s never an hour. Factor in commute time (both ways) and the time it takes for the program to start (never on time) and the follow-up conversations as you’re trying to walk out the door. Nope, never 1 hour. And definitely not only 2 days a year if you have more than one child.
The problem is the same throughout America: Schools still assume one parent is home during the day, but dual income families now make up 70% of the U.S. labor force. And most people can’t leave work to attend a bake sale or be on a committee. So the stay at home parents shoulder the responsibility. They run the committees and host the events. And that’s not fair either. In fact, it might just be fueling the Mommy Wars.
Sending a nanny in your place is convenient for me, but it’s also meaningful to my children. During my son’s preschool concert, he looked up and saw his nanny filming him (for me to see later), and ran over to give her a hug. Mid performance. These nannies are part of our families. I’m lucky I have someone who loves my kids – and who my kids love -- and can be my clone at times.
And it only gets worse after preschool. In fact the public school in my town has half-day Tuesdays. Every Tuesday. It’s ridiculous. How is this supposed to work in a dual income household?
Schools and preschools, you have to get with the program. Hold concerts on weeknights or weekends so both parents can attend. Lessen the half-days during the year. Assume both parents are working. Assume that they can’t drop their work obligations – to run back and forth to the school. But also assume that we want to be there. We would be those beaming, applauding audience members and helping hands if your event fit our schedule. We would take pride in being able to do this for our kids. But right now, earning an income that helps put a roof over their heads takes priority.