This morning when I brought my daughter G to school, a mom of one of G’s classmates asked me to take her daughter during lunch break this coming Thursday. Dutch Elementary schools have an extended lunch break from 11.45 – 13.00 o’clock. In big cities, most children enjoy their lunch at school, in small towns like where I live, parents (90% moms, others are fathers, grand parents or baby sitters) pick up the children so that they can lunch at home. Before 13.00 o’clock children must be back at school for noon lessons till 15.30 o’clock.
The conversation I mention above went like this:
Mom: Hallo, could you take Irene with lunch break with you this Thursday?
Mom: why not?
Me: No, I can’t (still didn’t feel the need to explain the reason why)
Mom: why not?
Me: No can do, cause G stays at school during lunch break, the whole week.
Mom: really? (with great disbelief, duhhh)
Me: Yessss (I began to sound really pissed off). I work full time, I don’t even pick up my own daughter for lunch, let alone yours. Actually, I’m giving you too much information right now, so I just can’t (I started to leave her)
Mom: mm..but I would have a problem then. I have an appointment at the hospital.
Me: It is your own problem, bye.
Now I write down my reasons why I reacted that way:
1. Her daugther is not close with mine. So I thaught, “who the hell was she daring asking me this??”
2. The way she asked this favor, directly. If she asked politely starting with “Can I ask you a favor?” or “Would you like to…please”, I would’ve reacted differently.
3. Her assumption that mothers, if they have a job, they must work part time.
The third reason was the one which pissed me off. This assumption is very much alive among Dutch stay at home moms. Most of working moms have a part time job 20 – 24 hours/week. So if a mom works, she is supposed to work part time. I personally don’t have a problem with part time working moms or home makers, what I do have a problem is with women accusing working moms as not being consequent as mother by saying ‘We don’t take (in Indonesian Culture please read as = have or get) children just to dump them in the daycares’. They give working moms subtle intinuation that working moms are focusing too much on their career. Instead of helping each others, there is an underneath battle going on here.
Don’t get me wrong I admire women who decide to stay at home raising their children. They take care of children of working moms during school activities (driving them to footbaal match, pick nick and many others). What I don’t like is the judgement that as if working moms were ‘less motherly’ than stay at home moms.