The photo of a sign from an unnamed daycare has moms on both sides of the work/don't-work divide screaming at each other into the Facebook comment abyss. The issue? When moms show up at the end of the day with a cellphone glued to one ear.
“Your child is happy to see you,” the sign reads. “Are you happy to see them??” It later calls moms who take time to talk on their cellphone during pick-up as “appalling,” ending with the second of two demands that moms “get off your phone.”
Initially posted to Facebook by a woman named Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz, the image has already accumulated more than 379,000 shares and plenty of perfect parents piling on in the comment section to insist they’ve never done something like this.
Are they better parents than those who are weighing in on a conference call while putting on a toddler’s coat? Not according to a few working moms who expressed their distaste for the sign in the 2,000+ comment thread.
“My mom stayed on her phone picking us from school and dropping us off she was always taking care of business while taking care of us and raised us all on her own,” one mom noted.
“Maybe it's a parent who has a business call! Maybe it's a parent dealing with another child's school, so many maybes,” another posted.
Most moms would really prefer not to be juggling a phone, a backpack, a macaroni necklace and their 3-year-old’s hand at 5:30 p.m., but these sort of sacrifices have become an increasing necessity in a society where more moms are working than ever before. In fact, in 40 percent of households with kids, working moms are either the sole or primary breadwinner. And while the number of families with two working parents has increased, in more than half, the mother still pulls the lion’s share of the work when it comes to managing kids’ schedules, discipline and playing with their own kids.
Working mothers are expected to be “on” every time they’re around their kids, but they’re also supposed to be stellar employees who bring home the bacon and perfect homemakers who juggle pediatrician appointments and soccer practice with ease.
The societal pressure is intense. Many find it easy to cast the mom with a cellphone nestled between her ear and her shoulder as a monster who can’t take a few minutes out of her me-me-me focused world to show her kids some love. But consider this possibility:
Did she run out of work early to get to the daycare before it closes, but called back in because she knows that her parenting status made her less desirable as a hire and makes her more likely to be fired than her colleagues who don’t have kids?
Is she trying to make calls about dinner or t-ball or the dozens of other bits of minutiae that her partner hasn’t keyed in on because 64 percent of moms in two-parent households say that they do more than their spouse or partner when it comes to managing their children’s schedule and activities?
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Is she making calls about a sick family member, because some 20 percent of all female workers in the U.S. are also family caregivers?
No one dobuts that kids need their parents’ attention as much as their love. Working moms, it could be argued, need society's assumptions and judgment, well, not at all.