A friend of mine retired last year from her job of 20 years to become a stay-at-home at the ripe old age of 45. Not so many of us are that lucky, but she’s living the dream now. Young, all the time in the world and kids who still appreciate her being around.
She spends her days volunteering at the school and boy, does she volunteer. She makes me look lazy. That school is lucky to have her.
My friend, however, is in the minority. According to the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of women were stay-at-home moms in 2012. I haven’t decided yet if that number is high. All I know is that the 71 percent of us who go to work every day feel like we are in the minority.
I have never attended a PTA meeting at my daughter’s school. My dad’s retirement celebration happened at 3:30 p.m. My daughter’s softball practice is at 4:30 p.m. My youngest daughter has been asking me for two years to sign her up for dance class, but I can’t. The class is consistently offered at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday.
Teachers and school administrators are always asking for parent volunteers for events, committees and classrooms. But all their coordination meetings are right after school. At least they are at our school. Another friend of mine, who has bent over backward to volunteer at the school, voiced her opinion about the inconvenient parent/teacher meetings.
The response she got?
“Well, a lot of our teachers live out of town and it’s easier for them to meet after school.” I can only speak about our school, but it doesn’t seem that schools are accommodating working families.
Let’s not forget . . . there are 71 percent of us working moms who would still help out if we were chronologically capable of doing so.
I got very lucky that the group of moms who came into my Girl Scout troop were all working when we became a troop. We meet in the evenings, after sports practices and even dinner are done for the night. Most troops meet right after school. My mom reminded me that when I was in Girl Scouts, back in the day, our troop met right after school in Cleo Gordon Elementary School’s gym.
So, even though there are 71 percent of us working moms out there, it will never feel like it. There will always be practices at times that force us to rush home, grab our kids and practically throw them out of the car while stuffing a PB&J sandwich in their hand for dinner. The best classes for our toddlers will take place at times that accommodate those who aren’t in day care.
I will have to read the many colorful fliers that are sent home with my daughter to know what’s going on with the PTA. If I want to suggest a fundraiser or offer to help out with an event, I will send a faceless email to someone I have never met and hope they get back to me and accept my offer.
Times are changing. It’s great that so many women are able to stay home with their kids. I did it for a while. It’s not for me. I don’t, however, want to feel like I am being punished for choosing to work. The word equality is thrown around a lot lately and this is a great time to use it.
Angela Borchert is a freelance writer who lives in Vacaville. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.