Women in Disguise
Undercover working mother: I dress like a SAHM for the doctor
One mother swaps business suits for yoga pants when she takes her children to the doctor, after discovering that a “stay-at-home mom outfit” gets more respect. Have you ever pretended — or let people believe — that you stay at home with your kids when you actually work, or vice versa?
As I was getting dressed this morning, Hubbie and I were discussing the plan for the day. The one that involved a doctor’s appointment, a sick child, one who needed to get to the school bus and then of course ballet after school. When I finally said I had to run, he looked at me and asked why I was wearing jeans. A reasonable question since it’s the middle of the week and my office is notoriously dressy.
But this morning Bugaboo had an appointment at the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. The one whose wife gave up her career to stay at home with their two boys so he could work 80-hour weeks. I know this because the boys went to the same pre-school two days a week that Sugar Plum went to five days a week.
“You may not want to hear this,” I said, “but they treat me differently if they think I work.”
My husband didn’t believe me. How could he? If he rushes into a doctor’s appointment in a suit (or in his case a uniform), he’s considered “Dad of the Year” for taking time out of his busy day to take his children to the doctor.
I have three children. All of whom have seen some form of specialist. I promise you that the days I show up in jeans are the days they listen to me, while the few times I’ve shown up in a business suit, I’ve been questioned about how well I know my child’s daily activities.
As a working mother, I already carry enough guilt in my life, and on more than one occasion I’ve been told:
- My child wouldn’t be as sick as he/she is if they didn’t “have” to go to daycare.
- I couldn’t possibly know all of my child’s symptoms since they aren’t with me during the day.
- That they can’t just prescribe antibiotics so I can drop my child off at daycare and get back to work.
So I lie. Well, actually I don’t really lie, I just don’t dress the part. It’s like being undercover to see how the other half live. I am proud that I am a working mother (if you want to continue to believe that statement don’t read this), but I do realize that in some situations I am clearly labeled before I walk in the door.
In my high heels, black suit and patten leather purse, I am a working mother who drops her children off at daycare. In my jeans, flats and diaper bag I am a mother concerned about her child and willing/able to invest the time in their care.
True, it’s not every doctor. Our family doctor is an inspiring working mother who knows I always put my children first and doesn’t ever care what I’m wearing. But the specialists, who in our case are almost all men, treat me very differently depending on what they perceive me to be.
So I wear jeans or yoga pants. Even if that means changing into my working mommy uniform in my van in the parking lot at work. These are the things I’ve learned. The things I never even considered before I had children. Children who seem to ALWAYS be sick.
I want to be angry. I want to click-clack on the hard hospital floors in high heels and black suits and demand my opinion count as much as the mother’s whose children are home with her all day. But I don’t. I just dress down.
Whether it’s pathetic that this is true or I’m pathetic for giving in is almost indistinguishable.
After explaining this to my husband, he doesn’t question me. I’m not sure he actually believes me, but he knows better than to question. He’s a smart man who is probably sorry he asked the question why I would wear jeans to work.
Re-posted by Liz Steinborn firstname.lastname@example.org