Recently, I’ve been confused by my peers who call themselves stay-at-home parents while they publish essays or even books, and run businesses from home. Is it because they are able to do those things without using childcare? Or is it because they take greater pride in stay-at-home-parenthood than the part-time career activities in which they are engaged, so they prefer to use that label?
It seems that there are no longer two buckets: working parents and stay-at-home parents. There are many hybrids. Folks who work from laptops while their kids are sleeping or doing art projects. Parents who take conference calls while they push their kid on the swing. Parents who travel and work their butts off for four straight days and then spend the next three making every one scrambled eggs before taking them outside to ski. The salary and benefits may be unstable for many of us, but this mishmash of roles can be a beautiful thing.
And thank god for smart phones.
I work between 9 and 3 when my kids are in school, but due to my flexible schedule, I am able to take them to weekday swimming lessons and playdates at the park. If there is a sick day or a doctor’s appointment, my work can wait. (Though it may pile up and keep me occupied when I’d rather be watching TV). I am incredibly lucky this way. Thanks to technology, my husband can also take a work-from-home day when necessary. (His boss and some of his employees are located in other states!) I know doctors, restaurant managers, and teachers cannot “work from home.” I feel more connected to the term “working” than “staying at home”, but perhaps that is driven by a rationale for why my kids have attended preschool nearly every day since age two.
I do wonder if stay-at-home parents find it annoying when folks who earn as much money as they used to call themselves stay at home parents. Or do full-time working parents find it annoying when I say I’m a working mom, but then I am available to go to class parties for my first grader?