I’m a liar. Actually, I’m a serial liar.
I refuse to admit that I’ve been late or absent from work because the kids have chicken pox/flu/a broken collarbone, or the babysitter didn’t show up. I would rather lie to my boss and cite train delays or urgent meetings.
Here’s the harsh truth about why: It is simply not acceptable admit that you are giving anything less than 100% at the office because you happen to be a mother. Any excuse, including chronic flakiness, a borderline drinking problem, or being abducted by aliens, is better than confessing problems on the mommy front.
A research study conducted by UK nursery chain The Family Care Company asked 1,500 women about attitudes towards working mothers and the difficulties of the elusive “work/life balance.” Over half of the respondents admitted that they’d lied about absence or lateness when the root cause was their children. Many reported that they were (and are) worried about employer and colleague attitudes towards childcare difficulties.
Male colleagues actually appeared more sympathetic than childless female colleagues, with 57% of women saying that women without children were much harsher on them than men. Additionally, a whopping 94% said that having children affected their careers, whereas only 31% said that parenthood had affected their husband or partner’s career.
Rosemary Bennett of The London Times says that even women who work extra hours at home will still suffer career damage by simply not being at the office when others are. So apparently, it isn’t about ‘working smart’ – it’s about showing up.
In the London Evening Standard, Rashid Razaq noted that two-thirds of women questioned for the report said that asking for flexible working hours had met with disapproval from their bosses despite efforts to make companies more accommodating.
The UK government introduced the right for parents to request flexible hours in 2003, and so far more than a million requests have been granted, which could be seen as good news. Unfortunately, Razaq comments that even if this is the case, parents who exercise this right are likely to suffer, with fewer opportunities for promotion or pay rises.
I’m not proud of my former fibs. I doubt any working mother would be – but in a professional environment, if you want to stay working and be a mother, sometimes I’ve found that you have to grit your teeth – and lie through them – unless you have a very considerate and progressive boss.