|Contemplating whether there are different standards for working parents...|
I was on a call yesterday involving several executives in my organization. The person who organized the call was a man who has school aged children. Apparently, he needed to pick up one of his sons early from school today and pick up time was when the call was occurring. There was a little background noise. Then, without fanfare or explanation, he simply disengaged from the call with the simple statement, "Sorry, I had to pick up my kid early from school today." He was off for awhile we all waited for him to return. A few moments later, we hear his kid's voice. He responds to the kid rather casually, "I'm on a call."
I was awestruck by this exchange because the manner in which he handled this was far different than I have in the past.
This past week, I had to get creative with my work schedule because I had two sick children to manage. They were legitimately sick and had the fevers, fatigue, and discomfort to prove it. In a word, they were not faking it and they needed their mama. Still, because this was an unscheduled interruption, like illness always is, I made every attempt to be available for my client. I worked from home also made damn sure that nobody could hear my kids in the background, lest they judge me harshly for being a working mom.
Working dads fulfill their family obligations without question.
My male colleague had no such misgivings. First, I bet he never thought of himself as a "Working Dad". He's just a guy who's married with children. Second, he was completely relaxed about the entire thing. I tend to believe that I should minimize my colleagues' exposure to my kids and their schedule. There are times like this week when they're sick that referencing their needs can't be helped. However, from a day-to-day perspective, I try to communicate one message, I am available to do your work within the hours you assign, especially since that has been emphasized to me that that is the expectation. While I talk about them and show photos at times, I am reluctant to say, "I can't do that because I have to pick up my kid."
Indeed, we've hired help specifically to ensure that I never have to utter that phrase.
After observing what happened with my colleagues I wondered if I'm too sensitive. Perhaps all would understand if I left work at 230 to pick up my kids. Maybe if I were on a call and my kid was overheard people would think he/she were cute and not disruptive. It is possible that I am simply nervous about appearances for no reason. Or maybe, men have a privilege that I don't and the lens with which they are viewed is different.
What do you think?! Is there a different standard for working moms and working dads?