I never would have imagined the challenges I would face at work while being a singleton. If you had told me years ago, that I would have faced some unique challenges at work for being childless I would have laughed.
I think the boss saw “jackpot” signs when he hired me because that meant a lot less special treatment for taking kids to school or when they were home sick. Among my office team I am the only spouse-less and childless employee so that definitely became what defined me.
It’s a funny thing. I very much prefer to keep my personal and professional lives separate but this isn’t so easy to do when you’re a parent. The mothers in the office are always coming in late/leaving early/taking off unexpected days because of the demands of their children. And guess who is filling in for them? Moi.
If I were a mother, I’d probably want a flexible job, too. But sometimes the crazy schedules and extra work take their toll on me physically and mentally.I know that my work and my clients tend to suffer because of this office dynamic. In fact I feel less like I can take time off because it always seems like I’m terribly behind as a result of everyone else’s flexibility.
The overall situation is a tough one. Only a monster would begrudge a parent their right to be there for her children and yet we’re all hired to work the same number of hours and complete similar workloads. That last part is the major discrepancy. One month I actually kept track and worked on average five more hours than my parent counterparts for the same salary terms. And that’s the average. I shudder to think what keeping track for an entire year would look like.
I don’t claim to have a solution for this but the next time a working mum tells me I don’t understand, I’ll tell her that I sort of do. We all have our personal struggles and even the single, childless life is no picnic.
Do you find yourself having to work extra to cover for parents at your office?